Study of Salts in Water Causing Stir

A pair of Argonne scientists uncover fresh insights about the structure of saltwater.

Story Tips From the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, February 2018

* ORNL research says quantum computers will use much less energy than current supercomputers, a potential cost benefit to equipment manufacturers and data centers * ORNL creates supertough renewable plastic with improved manufacturability. * A new ORNL system will help builders and home designers select the best construction materials for long-term moisture durability.

New MXene Materials Could Capture Wasted Frictional Energy From Smartphones, and More

Imagine that every time you tapped out a message on your smartphone, it would create electric power instead of sapping your phone's battery. That scenario could one day be a reality, according to a researcher at Missouri University of Science and Technology.

Magnetic Trick Triples the Power of SLAC's X-Ray Laser

Scientists at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have discovered a way to triple the amount of power generated by the world's most powerful X-ray laser. The new technique, developed at SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), will enable researchers to observe the atomic structure of molecules and ultrafast chemical processes that were previously undetectable at the atomic scale.

Gene Enhancers Are Important Despite Apparent Redundancy

Scientists answered a long-standing question about the role of enhancers. And by better linking the genomic complement of an organism with its expressed characteristics, their work offers new insights that further the growing field of systems biology, which seeks to gain a predictive understanding of living systems.

Columbia Engineers Develop Flexible Lithium Battery for Wearable Electronics

Columbia Engineering researchers have developed a prototype of a high-performance flexible lithium-ion battery that demonstratesconcurrentlyboth good flexibility and high energy density. The battery is shaped like the human spine and allows remarkable flexibility, high energy density, and stable voltage no matter how it is flexed or twisted. The device could help advance applications for wearable electronics. (Advanced Materials.)

Applying Machine Learning to the Universe's Mysteries

Berkeley Lab physicists and their collaborators have demonstrated that computers are ready to tackle the universe's greatest mysteries - they used neural networks to perform a deep dive into data simulating the subatomic particle soup that may have existed just microseconds after the big bang.

Berkeley Lab Researchers Contribute to Making Blockchains Even More Robust

In the last few years, researchers at Berkeley Lab, UC Davis and University of Stavanger in Norway have developed a new protocol, called BChain, which makes private blockchain even more robust. The researchers are also working with colleagues at Berkeley Lab and beyond to adapt this tool to support applications that are of strategic importance to the Department of Energy's Office of Science.

Silencing Is Golden: Scientists Image Molecules Vital for Gene Regulation

Lab scientists use cryo-electron microscopy to gain a deeper understanding of the structure of a regulatory complex. Their research could open up new possibilities for cancer therapies.

Scientists Get Better Numbers on What Happens When Electrons Get Wet

A particular set of chemical reactions governs many of the processes around us--everything from bridges corroding in water to your breakfast breaking down in your gut. One crucial part of that reaction involves electrons striking water, and despite how commonplace this reaction is, scientists still have to use ballpark numbers for certain parts of the equation when they use computers to model them. A study offers a new and better set of numbers, which may help scientists and engineers create better ways to split water for hydrogen fuel and other chemical processes.

Scientists Catch Light Squeezing and Stretching Next-Gen Data Storage Material

Scientists at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have seen for the first time how atoms in iron-platinum nanoparticles - a next-generation material for magnetic data storage devices - respond extremely rapidly to brief laser flashes. Understanding these fundamental motions could potentially lead to new ways of manipulating and controlling such devices with light.

X-Ray Experiments Suggest High Tunability of 2-D Material

Researchers used MAESTRO, an X-ray platform at Berkeley Lab, to zero in on signatures of exotic electronic behavior in a 2-D material. They found that the material may be highly tunable, with potential applications in spintronics and other emerging fields.

Tiny Particles Have Outsize Impact on Storm Clouds, Precipitation

Tiny particles fuel powerful storms and influence weather much more than has been appreciated, according to a study in the Jan. 26 issue of the journal Science. The tiny pollutants - long considered too small to have much impact on droplet formation - are, in effect, diminutive downpour-makers.

Recycling and Reusing Worn Cathodes to Make New Lithium Ion Batteries

Nanoengineers at the University of California San Diego have developed an energy-efficient recycling process that restores used cathodes from spent lithium ion batteries and makes them work just as good as new. The process involves harvesting the degraded cathode particles from a used battery and then boiling and heat treating them. Researchers built new batteries using the regenerated cathodes. Charge storage capacity, charging time and battery lifetime were all restored to their original levels.

New Discovery Could Improve Organic Solar Cell Performance

Scientists who are members of a new energy materials-related science center based at Berkeley Lab have solved a mystery that could lead to gains in efficiency for organic solar cells.

Advances in Lasers Get to the Long and Short of It

Chiral nematic liquid crystals are an emerging class of lasing devices that are poised to shape how lasers are used in the future. New work on how to select band-edge modes in these devices, which determine the lasing energy, may shine light on how lasers of the future will be tuned, and researchers have demonstrated a technique that allows the laser to electrically switch emission between the long- and short-wavelength edges of the photonic bandgap. They report their work this week in Applied Physics Letters.

Rutgers Scientists Discover 'Legos of Life'

Rutgers scientists have found the "Legos of life" - four core chemical structures that can be stacked together to build the myriad proteins inside every organism - after smashing and dissecting nearly 10,000 proteins to understand their component parts. The four building blocks make energy available for humans and all other living organisms, according to a study published online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Small Hydroelectric Dams Increase Globally with Little Research, Regulations

University of Washington researchers have published the first major assessment of small hydropower dams around the world -- including their potential for growth -- and highlight the incredibly variability in how dams of varying sizes are categorized, regulated and studied.

Researchers Reveal How Microbes Cope in Phosphorus-Deficient Tropical Soil

A team led by the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory has uncovered how certain soil microbes cope in a phosphorus-poor environment to survive in a tropical ecosystem. Their novel approach could be applied in other ecosystems to study various nutrient limitations and inform agriculture and terrestrial biosphere modeling.

Scientists Discover Material Ideal for Smart Photovoltaic Windows

Researchers at Berkeley Lab discovered that a form of perovskite, one of the hottest materials in solar research due to its high conversion efficiency, works surprisingly well as a stable and photoactive semiconductor material that can be reversibly switched between a transparent state and a non-transparent state, without degrading its electronic properties.

Biofuels Feedstock Study Supports Billion-Ton Estimate

Can farmers produce at least 1 billion tons of biomass per year that can be used as biofuels feedstock? The answer is yes.

On the Rebound

New research from the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory and Stanford University has found that palladium nanoparticles can repair atomic dislocations in their crystal structure, potentially leading to other advances in material science.

Coupling Experiments to Theory to Build a Better Battery

A Berkeley Lab-led team of researchers has reported that a new lithium-sulfur battery component allows a doubling in capacity compared to a conventional lithium-sulfur battery, even after more than 100 charge cycles.

DRIFTing to Fast, Precise Data

Non-destructive technique identifies key variations in Alaskan soils, quickly providing insights into carbon levels.

A Shortcut to Modeling Sickle Cell Disease

Using Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Titan supercomputer, a team led by Brown University's George Karniadakis devised a multiscale model of sickle cell disease that captures what happens inside a red blood cell affected by the disease.