Solar Cell Discovery Opens a New Window to Powering Tomorrow's Cities

Windows that generate electricity may have a clearer path to prominent roles in buildings of the future due to an Argonne-led discovery.

How the Earth Stops High-Energy Neutrinos in Their Tracks

A research collaboration including scientists from Berkeley Lab has demonstrated that the Earth stops high-energy neutrinos - particles that only very rarely interact with matter.

Kentucky Researchers First to Produce High Grade Rare Earths From Coal

University of Kentucky researchers have produced nearly pure rare earth concentrates from Kentucky coal using an environmentally-conscious and cost-effective process, a groundbreaking accomplishment in the energy industry.

Watching Atoms Move in Hybrid Perovskite Crystals Reveals Clues to Improving Solar Cells

The discovery of nanoscale changes deep inside hybrid perovskites could shed light on developing low-cost, high-efficiency solar cells. Using X-ray beams and lasers, a team of researchers led by the University of California San Diego discovered how the movement of ions in hybrid perovskites causes certain regions within the material to become better solar cells than other parts.

Quantum Dots Amplify Light with Electrical Pumping

In a breakthrough development, Los Alamos scientists have shown that they can successfully amplify light using electrically excited films of the chemically synthesized semiconductor nanocrystals known as quantum dots.

The Challenge of Estimating Alaska's Soil Carbon Stocks

A geospatial analysis determined the optimal distribution of sites needed to reliably estimate Alaska's vast soil carbon.

Strain-Free Epitaxy of Germanium Film on Mica

Germanium was the material of choice in the early history of electronic devices, and due to its high charge carrier mobility, it's making a comeback. It's generally grown on expensive single-crystal substrates, adding another challenge to making it sustainably viable for most applications. To address this aspect, researchers demonstrate an epitaxy method that incorporates van der Waals' forces to grow germanium on mica. They discuss their work in the Journal of Applied Physics.

Unplugging the Cellulose Biofuel Bottleneck

Molecular-level understanding of cellulose structure reveals why it resists degradation and could lead to cost-effective biofuels.

Detailed View of Immune Proteins Could Lead to New Pathogen-Defense Strategies

Biologists at Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley used cryo-EM to resolve the structure of a ring of proteins used by the immune system to summon support when under attack, providing new insight into potential strategies for protection from pathogens. The researchers captured the high-resolution image of a protein ring, called an inflammasome, as it was bound to flagellin, a protein from the whiplike tail used by bacteria to propel themselves forward.

Unlocking the Secrets of Ebola

Scientists have identified a set of biomarkers that indicate which patients infected with the Ebola virus are most at risk of dying from the disease. The results come from one of the most in-depth studies ever of blood samples from patients with Ebola.

Scientists Make First Observations of How a Meteor-Like Shock Turns Silica Into Glass

Studies at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have made the first real-time observations of how silica - an abundant material in the Earth's crust - easily transforms into a dense glass when hit with a massive shock wave like one generated from a meteor impact.

How Fungal Enzymes Break Down Plant Cell Walls

Lignocellulose-degrading enzyme complexes could improve biofuel production.

Stretching to Perfection of 2-D Semiconductors

Scientists use heat and mismatched surfaces to stretch films that can potentially improve the efficient operation of devices.

Simple is Beautiful in Quantum Computing

Defect spins in diamond were controlled with a simpler, geometric method, leading to faster computing.

Replace or Wait? Study Says Swap All Incandescent Bulbs Now, but Hold on to CFLs, older LEDs

LED light bulbs are getting cheaper and more energy efficient every year. So, does it make sense to replace less-efficient bulbs with the latest light-emitting diodes now, or should you wait for future improvements and even lower costs?

Are Petite Poplars the Future of Biofuels? UW Studies Say Yes

A University of Washington team is trying to make poplar a viable competitor in the biofuels market by testing the production of younger poplar trees that could be harvested more frequently -- after only two or three years -- instead of the usual 10- to 20-year cycle.

UCI Chemists' Solar-Powered Device Generates Electricity Through Ion Transport

By binding photosensitive dyes to common plastic membranes and adding water, chemists at the University of California, Irvine have made a new type of solar power generator. The device is similar to familiar silicon photovoltaic cells but differs in a fundamental way: Instead of being produced via electrons, its electricity comes from the motion of ions.

Volatility Surprises Arise in Removing Excess Hydrogen

Sometimes during catalytic hydrogenation, the partially hydrogenated products become volatile, melting and evaporating away before they can bind to more hydrogen atoms. Now, researchers have explored how and why this volatility varies during hydrogenation, suggesting that a previously underappreciated effect from carbon-hydrogen bonds in the molecule is the main culprit. The new analysis, published in The Journal of Chemical Physics, can help chemists identify the ideal conditions needed for catalytic hydrogenation so they can better remove excess hydrogen.

X-Rays Reveal the Biting Truth About Parrotfish Teeth

A new study has revealed a chain mail-like woven microstructure that gives parrotfish teeth their remarkable ability to chomp on coral all day long - the structure could serve as a blueprint for designing ultra-durable synthetic materials.

Electron Backscatter Diffraction Yields Microstructure Insights

Soft magnetic core engineering plays a key role in high-efficiency electric motors, but for higher-frequency applications, soft magnetic composites are also promising. Each stage of motor construction affects the material's microstructure, and understanding the details of the microstructure is paramount to reaching higher efficiency for electrical motors. In this week's AIP Advances, researchers created an advanced characterization method to closely examine microscale structural characteristics and changes during manufacturing processes using electron backscatter diffraction.

Are Multiple H-Coils Needed to Accurately Measure Magnetic Field Strengths?

Is more always better? Researchers in Kyoto, Japan, sought to find out if that was the case for measuring magnetic field strengths. Their paper, appearing this week in AIP Advances, from AIP Publishing, examines whether a double H-coil method or a single H-coil method is a more accurate way to measure magnetic field strength.

To Find New Biofuel Enzymes, It Can Take a Microbial Village

In search of new plant enzymes? Try looking in compost. Researchers at JBEI have demonstrated the importance of microbial communities as a source of stable enzymes that could be used to convert plants to biofuels. This approach yields robust enzymes that researchers can't easily obtain from isolates.

'Criticality' Experiments Enhance Nuclear Safety

Livermore researchers conducted the first Livermore-designed "criticality" experiment in 40 years. It was one in a series that aims to help ensure plutonium operations - which are key to assessing the U.S. nuclear stockpile without testing - continue to be conducted safely.

Neutrons Probe Oxygen-Generating Enzyme for a Greener Approach to Clean Water

An international researcher team used neutron analysis at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, x-ray crystallography and other techniques to study chlorite dismutase, an enzyme that breaks down the environmental pollutant chlorite into harmless byproducts. The results shed light on the catalytic process and open possibilities for bioremediation.

SLAC X-ray Laser Reveals How Extreme Shocks Deform a Metal's Atomic Structure

When hit by a powerful shock wave, materials can change their shape - a property known as plasticity - yet keep their lattice-like atomic structure. Now scientists have used the X-ray laser at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory to see, for the first time, how a material's atomic structure deforms when shocked by pressures nearly as extreme as the ones at the center of the Earth.