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Automated sorting through metagenomes

September 30, 2014 8:05 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Microbes have an amazing ability to feed on plant biomass and convert it into other chemical products. Tapping into this talent has the potential to revolutionize energy, medicine, environmental remediation and many other fields. The success of this effort hinges in part on metagenomics, the emerging technology that enables researchers to read all the individual genomes of a sample microbial community at once.

Simulations reveal an unusual death for ancient stars

September 29, 2014 11:01 am | by Linda Vu, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Certain primordial stars—those between 55,000 and 56,000 times the mass of our sun, or solar...

On the road to artificial photosynthesis

September 26, 2014 8:04 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

The excessive atmospheric carbon dioxide that is driving global climate change could be...

Report quantifies financial impacts of customer-sited photovoltaics on electric utilities

September 25, 2014 8:39 am | by Allan Chen, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A new report prepared by analysts from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory examines the...

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2-D materials’ crystalline defects key to new properties

September 24, 2014 11:13 am | News | Comments

using an aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscope, researchers have recently understood how defects in 2-D crystals such as tungsten disulphide can move, or dislocate, to other locations in the material. Understanding how atoms "glide" and "climb" on the surface of 2-D crystals may pave the way for researchers to develop materials with unusual or unique characteristics.

Studies find declines in price of rooftop and utility-scale solar

September 18, 2014 7:51 am | by Allen Chen, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

The price of solar energy in the U.S. continues to fall substantially, according to the latest editions of two annual reports produced by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). A third Berkeley Lab report, written in collaboration with researchers at Yale Univ., the Univ. of Texas at Austin and the DOE, shows that local permitting and other regulatory procedures can significantly impact residential photovoltaic prices.

Excitonic dark states shed light on TMDC atomic layers

September 11, 2014 9:50 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A team of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers believes it has uncovered the secret behind the unusual optoelectronic properties of single atomic layers of transition metal dichalcogenide (TMDC) materials, the 2-D semiconductors that hold great promise for nanoelectronic and photonic applications.

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Advanced Light Source sets microscopy record

September 11, 2014 8:11 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A record-setting x-ray microscopy experiment may have ushered in a new era for nanoscale imaging. Working at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), a collaboration of researchers used low energy or “soft” x-rays to image structures only 5 nm in size. This resolution, obtained at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source, is the highest ever achieved with x-ray microscopy.

Berkeley Lab licenses boron nitride nanotube technology

September 5, 2014 9:06 am | by Julie Chao, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Nearly 20 years ago researcher Alex Zettl of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory synthesized in his laboratory a new material never before seen by nature: boron nitride nanotubes, the strongest, lightest, most thermally conducting and most chemically resistant fiber known to exist. Now a startup has licensed this technology with the aim of manufacturing boron nitride nanotubes for commercial use.

Researchers test multi-element, high-entropy alloy with surprising results

September 5, 2014 7:59 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A new concept in metallic alloy design has yielded a multiple-element material that not only tests out as one of the toughest on record, but, unlike most materials, the toughness as well as the strength and ductility of this alloy actually improves at cryogenic temperatures. This multi-element alloy was synthesized and tested through a collaboration of researchers.

Researchers test multi-element, high-entropy alloy with surprising results

September 5, 2014 7:50 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A new concept in metallic alloy design called “high-entropy alloys” has yielded a multiple-element material that tests out as one of the toughest on record. But, unlike most materials, the toughness as well as the strength and ductility of this alloy, which contains five major elements, actually improves at cryogenic temperatures.

Nano-sized synthetic scaffolding technique

September 3, 2014 7:33 am | by Jim Barlow, Director of Science and Research Communications, Univ. of Oregon | News | Comments

Scientists have tapped oil and water to create scaffolds of self-assembling, synthetic proteins called peptoid nanosheets that mimic complex biological mechanisms and processes. The accomplishmentis expected to fuel an alternative design of the 2-D peptoid nanosheets that can be used in a broad range of applications. Among them could be improved chemical sensors and separators, and safer, more effective drug delivery vehicles.

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Going to extremes for enzymes

September 2, 2014 8:08 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

In the age-old nature versus nurture debate, Douglas Clark, a faculty scientist with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Univ. of California, Berkeley, is not taking sides. In the search for enzymes that can break lignocellulose down into biofuel sugars under the extreme conditions of a refinery, he has prospected for extremophilic microbes and engineered his own cellulases.

Cool roofs in China can save energy, reduce emissions

August 28, 2014 8:49 am | by Julie Chao, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Working with Chinese researchers, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has conducted the first comprehensive study of cool roofs in China and concluded that they would be effective in substantially reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in climate zones with hot summers.

Competition for graphene

August 26, 2014 1:56 pm | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A new argument has just been added to the growing case for graphene being bumped off its pedestal as the next big thing in the high-tech world by the 2-D semiconductors known as MX2 materials. An international collaboration of researchers led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has reported the first experimental observation of ultrafast charge transfer in photo-excited MX2 materials.

Efficient Bioengineering

August 22, 2014 2:50 pm | Award Winners

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Tissue-Specific Cell-Wall Engineering is a powerful new method for rapidly transforming crops into biological factories. The technology, a suite of high-precision genetic tools and procedures, makes it possible to change plant traits in a highly selective, tissue-specific fashion.

A Closer Look at 3-D Cell Cultures

August 22, 2014 2:14 pm | Award Winners

It’s well known that compared with 2-D cell culture models, 3-D cell culture models have different patterns of development, respond differently to therapeutic targets and have different patterns of gene expression. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s BioSig3D is the only computational platform that provides Web-based delivery of image-based bioinformatics technology from 3-D cell culture models that are imaged in full 3-D using either confocal or deconvolution microscopy.

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Shaping the future of nanocrystals

August 22, 2014 8:55 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Videos | Comments

The first direct observations of how facets form and develop on platinum nanocubes point the way towards more sophisticated and effective nanocrystal design and reveal that a nearly 150 year-old scientific law describing crystal growth breaks down at the nanoscale.

Researchers map quantum vortices inside superfluid helium nanodroplets

August 22, 2014 7:41 am | by Kate Greene, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists have, for the first time, characterized so-called quantum vortices that swirl within tiny droplets of liquid helium. The research, led by scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Univ. of Southern California and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, confirms that helium nanodroplets are in fact the smallest possible superfluidic objects and opens new avenues for studying quantum rotation.

Microarray for Complex Chemotyping

August 21, 2014 4:05 pm | Award Winners

Whether the application is biofuels, microbial ecological investigation or medical research, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Berkeley Lab Multiplex Chemotyping Microarray (MCM) has proven to be the most powerful and precise system for investigations of biomass at the molecular level. MCM performs rapid chemical analyses of prospective biofuel crops and microbial communities by combining high-throughput micro-contact printing technology with high-fidelity vibrational spectroscopy and mass spectrometry.

NMR using Earth’s magnetic field

August 20, 2014 8:19 am | by Rachel Berkowitz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Earth’s magnetic field, a familiar directional indicator over long distances, is routinely probed in applications ranging from geology to archaeology. Now it has provided the basis for a technique which might, one day, be used to characterize the chemical composition of fluid mixtures in their native environments.

Study: Price of wind energy in U.S. at all-time low

August 19, 2014 9:42 am | by Allen Chen, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Wind energy pricing is at an all-time low, according to a new report released by the U.S. Dept. of Energy and prepared by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The prices offered by wind projects to utility purchasers averaged just $25/MWh for projects negotiating contracts in 2013, spurring demand for wind energy.

Bionic liquids from lignin

August 19, 2014 7:44 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

While the powerful solvents known as ionic liquids show great promise for liberating fermentable sugars from lignocellulose and improving the economics of advanced biofuels, an even more promising candidate is on the horizon—bionic liquids. Researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute have developed “bionic liquids” from lignin and hemicellulose, two by-products of biofuel production from biorefineries.

Researchers develop molecular probes for the study of metals in brain

August 18, 2014 8:59 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

The human brain harbors far more copper, iron and zinc than anywhere else in the body. Abnormally high levels of these metals can lead to disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Chris Chang, a faculty chemist with Berkeley Lab’s Chemical Sciences Div., has spent the past several years developing new probes and techniques for imaging the molecular activity of these metals in the brain.

Mysteries of space dust revealed

August 18, 2014 8:03 am | by Kate Greene, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

The first analysis of space dust collected by a special collector onboard NASA’s Stardust mission and sent back to Earth for study in 2006 suggests the tiny specks, which likely originated from beyond our solar system, are more complex in composition and structure than previously imagined. The analysis opens a door to studying the origins of the solar system and possibly the origin of life itself.

Bottling up sound waves

August 4, 2014 3:23 pm | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

There’s a new wave of sound on the horizon carrying with it a broad scope of tantalizing potential applications, including advanced ultrasonic imaging and therapy, and acoustic cloaking, levitation and particle manipulation. Researchers with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have developed a technique for generating acoustic bottles in open air that can bend the paths of sound waves along prescribed convex trajectories.

New tool for characterizing plant sugar transporters

July 29, 2014 8:28 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A powerful new tool that can help advance the genetic engineering of “fuel” crops for clean, green and renewable bioenergy, has been developed by researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute, a multi-institutional partnership led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The researchers have developed an assay that enables scientists to identify and characterize the function of nucleotide sugar transporters.

New assay tool characterizes plant sugar transporters

July 28, 2014 4:54 pm | News | Comments

A powerful new tool that could help advance the genetic engineering of “fuel” crops bioenergy, has been developed by researchers with the Joint BioEnergy Institute. Their new, unique assay enabled them to analyze nucleotide sugar transporter activities in Arabidopsis, a promising source of plant biomass, and characterize a family of six nucleotide sugar transporters that has never before been described.

Cagey material acts as alcohol factory

July 28, 2014 2:37 pm | by Kate Greene, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Some chemical conversions are harder than others. Refining natural gas into an easy-to-transport, easy-to-store liquid alcohol has so far been a logistic and economic challenge. But now, a new material, designed and patented by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is making this process a little easier.

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