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The Lead

Turn the light on

March 25, 2015 8:06 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Videos | Comments

In the on-going search for a better understanding of how the brain and central nervous system develop, a potentially powerful new tool could soon be available. Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have discovered a light-sensitive opsin protein that plays a surprising and possibly critical role in neuron maturation and circuit formation.

In climatic tug of war, carbon released from thawing permafrost wins handily

March 18, 2015 3:55 pm | by Dan Krotz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

There’s a carbon showdown brewing in the Arctic as Earth’s climate changes. On one side, thawing...

A better way of scrubbing carbon dioxide

March 17, 2015 12:46 pm | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A means by which the removal of carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants might one day be...

Using proteomics to profile switchgrass

March 12, 2015 10:43 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

If advanced biofuels are to replace gasoline, diesel and jet fuel on a gallon-for-gallon basis...

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Clues about cancer risk from low-dose radiation

March 11, 2015 9:51 am | by Dan Krotz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have uncovered new clues about the risk of cancer from low-dose radiation, which in this research they define as equivalent to 100 millisieverts or roughly the dose received from ten full-body CT scans. They studied mice and found their risk of mammary cancer from low-dose radiation depends a great deal on their genetic makeup.

Mathematicians model fluids at the mesoscale

March 6, 2015 8:13 am | by Julie Chao, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

When it comes to boiling water, is there anything left for today’s scientists to study? The surprising answer is, yes, quite a bit. How the bubbles form at a surface, how they rise up and join together, what are the surface properties, what happens if the temperature increases slowly versus quickly. While these components might be understood experimentally, the mathematical models for the process of boiling are incomplete.

Metabolic path to improved biofuel production

March 4, 2015 4:27 pm | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Researchers with the Energy Biosciences Institute have found a way to increase the production of fuels and other chemicals from biomass fermented by yeast. By introducing new metabolic pathways into the yeast, they enable the microbes to efficiently ferment cellulose and hemicellulose, the two major families of sugar found in the plant cell wall, without the need of environmentally harsh pre-treatments or expensive enzyme cocktails.

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A new level of earthquake understanding

March 3, 2015 3:07 pm | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

As everyone who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area knows, the Earth moves under our feet. But what about the stresses that cause earthquakes? How much is known about them? Until now, our understanding of these stresses has been based on macroscopic approximations.

Unlocking the key to immunological memory in bacteria

March 2, 2015 11:41 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A powerful genome editing tool may soon become even more powerful. Researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have unlocked the key to how bacteria are able to “steal” genetic information from viruses and other foreign invaders for use in their own immunological memory system.

First detailed microscopy evidence of bacteria at the lower size limit of life

March 2, 2015 8:08 am | by Dan Krotz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists have captured the first detailed microscopy images of ultra-small bacteria that are believed to be about as small as life can get. The existence of ultra-small bacteria has been debated for two decades, but there hasn’t been a comprehensive electron microscopy and DNA-based description of the microbes until now.

Carbon dioxide’s increasing greenhouse effect at Earth’s surface

February 26, 2015 8:12 am | by Dan Krotz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Videos | Comments

Scientists have observed an increase in carbon dioxide’s greenhouse effect at the Earth’s surface for the first time. The researchers, led by scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, measured atmospheric carbon dioxide’s increasing capacity to absorb thermal radiation emitted from the Earth’s surface over an eleven-year period at two locations in North America.

What to expect next from the world’s largest particle accelerator

February 23, 2015 7:56 am | by Kate Greene, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

In March, when researchers flip the switch to the world’s largest, most powerful particle accelerator, scientists from all over the world will be watching. Physicists expect the refurbished, higher-energy Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will build on the 2012 discovery of the Higgs particle and crack open even more mysteries of the universe.

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Researchers develop algorithm to make simulation of ultra-fast processes possible

February 17, 2015 7:17 pm | by Rachel Berkowitz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

When electronic states in materials are excited during dynamic processes, interesting phenomena such as electrical charge transfer can take place on quadrillionth-of-a-second, or femtosecond, timescales. Numerical simulations in real time provide the best way to study these processes, but such simulations can be extremely expensive.

Bacterial armor holds clues for self-assembling nanostructures

February 13, 2015 8:35 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Imagine thousands of copies of a single protein organizing into a coat of chainmail armor that protects the wearer from harsh and ever-changing environmental conditions. That is the case for many microorganisms. In a new study, researchers with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have uncovered key details in this natural process that can be used for the self-assembly of nanomaterials into complex 2- and 3-D structures.

Battery startup promises safe lithium batteries

February 10, 2015 9:53 am | by Julie Chao, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory battery scientist Nitash Balsara has worked for many years trying to find a way to improve the safety of lithium-ion batteries. Now he believes he has found the answer in a most unlikely material: a class of compounds that has mainly been used for industrial lubrication.

New design tool for metamaterials

February 10, 2015 8:33 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Metamaterials offer tantalizing future prospects such as high-resolution optical microscopes and superfast optical computers. To realize the vast potential of metamaterials, however, scientists will need to hone their understanding of the fundamental physics behind them. This will require accurately predicting nonlinear optical properties.

How oxygen is kryptonite to titanium

February 6, 2015 11:00 am | by Sarah Yang, Media Relations, UC Berkeley | Videos | Comments

Univ. of California, Berkeley scientists have found the mechanism by which titanium, prized for its high strength-to-weight ratio and natural resistance to corrosion, becomes brittle with just a few extra atoms of oxygen. The discovery has the potential to open the door to more practical, cost-effective uses of titanium in a broader range of applications.

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Precision growth of light-emitting nanowires

February 6, 2015 9:12 am | by Kate Greene, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A novel approach to growing nanowires promises a new means of control over their light-emitting and electronic properties. In a recent issue of Nano Letters, scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab demonstrated a new growth technique that uses specially engineered catalysts. These catalysts, which are precursors to growing the nanowires, have given scientists more options than ever in turning the color of light-emitting nanowires.

Rediscovering spontaneous light emission

February 4, 2015 8:06 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers have developed a nano-sized optical antenna that can greatly enhance the spontaneous emission of light from atoms, molecules and semiconductor quantum dots. This advance opens the door to light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that can replace lasers for short-range optical communications, including optical interconnects for microchips, plus a host of other potential applications.

New pathway to valleytronics

January 28, 2015 8:43 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A potential avenue to quantum computing currently generating quite the buzz in the high-tech industry is “valleytronics,” in which information is coded based on the wavelike motion of electrons moving through certain 2-D semiconductors. Now, a promising new pathway to valleytronic technology has been uncovered by researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Solving an organic semiconductor mystery

January 16, 2015 12:07 pm | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Organic semiconductors are prized for light-emitting diodes, field effect transistors and photovoltaic cells. As they can be printed from solution, they provide a highly scalable, cost-effective alternative to silicon-based devices. Uneven performances, however, have been a persistent problem.

Berkley Lab illuminates price premiums for U.S. solar home sales

January 14, 2015 8:14 am | by Allan Chen, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A multi-institutional research team of scientists led by Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, in partnership with Sandia National Laboratories, universities and appraisers, found that home buyers consistently have been willing to pay more for homes with host-owned solar photovoltaic (PV) energy systems—averaging about $4/W of PV installed—across various states, housing and PV markets and home types.

Manipulating nanoribbons at the molecular level

January 12, 2015 12:44 pm | by Rachel Berkowitz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Narrow strips of graphene called nanoribbons exhibit extraordinary properties that make them important candidates for future nanoelectronic technologies. A barrier to exploiting them, however, is the difficulty of controlling their shape at the atomic scale, a prerequisite for many possible applications.

Quantum dots have made quantum leaps

January 9, 2015 8:57 am | by Julie Chao, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Outside his career as a noted nanochemist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) director Paul Alivisatos is an avid photographer. To show off his photos, his preferred device is a Kindle Fire HDX tablet because “the color display is a whole lot better than other tablets,” he says.

Possible avenue to better electrolyte for lithium ion batteries

December 22, 2014 10:04 am | News | Comments

The lithium-ion batteries that mobilize our electronic devices need to be improved if they are to power electric vehicles or store electrical energy for the grid. Berkeley Lab researchers looking for a better understanding of liquid electrolyte may have found a pathway forward.

Switching to spintronics

December 17, 2014 3:18 pm | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

In a development that holds promise for future magnetic memory and logic devices, researchers have successfully used an electric field to reverse the magnetization direction in a multiferroic spintronic device at room temperature. This demonstration, which runs counter to conventional scientific wisdom, points a new way towards spintronics and smaller, faster and cheaper ways of storing and processing data.

Local market conditions, policies strongly influence solar PV pricing

December 15, 2014 2:03 pm | by Allan Chen, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Differences in local market conditions and policies, and other factors, particularly the size of the system, can lead to wide disparities in what consumers across the U.S. pay to install solar energy systems on their homes or small businesses, according to a recent study published by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. This translates into thousands of dollars difference in the price of comparable solar energy systems around the U.S.

World record for compact particle accelerator

December 9, 2014 12:01 pm | by Kate Greene, Berkeley Lab | News | Comments

Using one of the most powerful lasers in the world, researchers have accelerated subatomic particles to the highest energies ever recorded from a compact accelerator.                        

A better look at the chemistry of interfaces

December 2, 2014 4:41 pm | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Researchers have combined key features of two highly acclaimed x-ray spectroscopy techniques into a new technique that offers sub-nanometer resolution of every chemical element to be found at heterogeneous interfaces, such as those in batteries and fuel cells. This new technique is called SWAPPS for Standing Wave Ambient Pressure Photoelectron Spectroscopy.

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