Researchers Build Bacteria's Photosynthetic Engine

A team led by Klaus Schulten of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign used the OLCF's Titan to achieve a milestone in the field of biomolecular simulation, modeling a complete photosynthetic organelle of the bacteria Rhodobacter sphaeroides in atomic detail. The project, a 100-million atom spherical chromatophore, is the first of its kind, giving scientists a system-level understanding of a fundamental biological process based on all-atom precision.

New Computer Model Could Explain how Simple Molecules Took First Step Toward Life

Sergei Maslov, a computational biologist at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory and adjunct professor at Stony Brook University, and Alexei Tkachenko, a scientist at Brookhaven's Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN), have developed a model that explains how simple monomers could rapidly make the jump to more complex self-replicating polymers. What their model points to could have intriguing implications for the origins of life on Earth and CFN's work in engineering artificial self-assembly at the nanoscale.

Unlocking the Rice Immune System

JBEI, UC Davis and Berkeley Lab researchers have identified a bacterial signaling molecule that triggers an immunity response in rice plants, enabling the plants to resist a devastating blight disease.

Young Scientist Discovers Magnetic Material Unnecessary to Create Spin Current

Research at Argonne indicates that you don't need a magnetic material to create spin current from insulators--with important implications for the field of spintronics and the development of high-speed, low-power electronics that use electron spin rather than charge to carry information.

ORNL Researchers Make Scalable Arrays of 'Building Blocks' for Ultrathin Electronics

For the first time, researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have produced arrays of semiconductor junctions in arbitrary patterns within a single, nanometer-thick semiconductor crystal.

How Clouds Get Their Brightness

How clouds form and how they help set the temperature of the earth are two of the big remaining questions in climate research. Now, a study of clouds over the world's remotest ocean shows that ocean life is responsible for up to half the cloud droplets that pop in and out of existence during summer.

A Most Singular Nano-Imaging Technique

"SINGLE" is a new imaging technique that provides the first atomic-scale 3D structures of individual nanoparticles in solution. This is an important step for improving the design of colloidal nanoparticles for catalysis and energy research applications.

Unearthing Cornerstones in Root Microbiomes

In a study published online July 16, 2015 in Science Express, scientists looked at roles of three phytohormones, regulatory chemicals produced by a plant's immune system, in controlling the composition of the root microbiome in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana.

Story Tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, July 2015

ORNL study demonstrates economic value of variable flow heat pumps; New catalyst provides potential solution to meet emissions challenges; ORNL, UK researchers working to develop cleaner crude oil; New climate data easily accessed at

Closer Look at Microorganism Provides Insight on Carbon Cycling

An Argonne/University of Tennessee research team reconstructed the crystal structure of BAP, a protein involved in the process by which marine archaea release carbon, to determine how it functioned, as well as its larger role in carbon cycling in marine sediments.

Mass Map Shines Light on Dark Matter

An international team of researchers has developed a new map of the distribution of dark matter in the universe using data from the Dark Energy Survey.

Gut Microbes Enable Coffee Pest to Withstand Extremely Toxic Concentrations of Caffeine

Scientists discovered that coffee berry borers worldwide share 14 bacterial species in their digestive tracts that degrade and detoxify caffeine. They also found the most prevalent of these bacteria has a gene that helps break down caffeine. Their research sheds light on the ecology of the destructive bug and could lead to new ways to fight it.

New Design Could Dramatically Boost Efficiency of Low-Cost Solar Panels

A new material design tested in experiments at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory could make low-cost solar panels far more efficient by greatly enhancing their ability to collect the sun's energy and release it as electricity.

Neutrons Find "Missing" Magnetism of Plutonium

Groundbreaking work at two Department of Energy national laboratories has confirmed plutonium's magnetism, which scientists have long theorized but have never been able to experimentally observe.

The MiSIng Piece Revealed: Classifying Microbial Species in the Genomics Era

A team from the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI) and their collaborators developed and evaluated the MiSI method for classifying microbial species that could be supplemented - as needed - by traditional approaches relied on by microbiologists for decades.

Smart Stuff: IQ of Northwest Power Grid Raised, Energy Saved

Smart grid technologies and approaches can improve energy efficiency and possibly reduce power costs, according to the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project's final report.

Berkeley Lab Study Finds that Future Deployment of Distributed Solar Hinges on Electricity Rate Design

Future distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) deployment levels are highly sensitive to retail electricity rate design, according to a newly released report by researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). The study also explores the feedback effects between retail electricity rates and PV deployment, and suggests that increased solar deployment can lead to changes in PV compensation levels that either accelerate or dampen further deployment.

Scientists Study Ways to Integrate Biofuels and Food Crops on Farms

Planting bioenergy crops like willows or switchgrass in rows where commodity crops are having difficulty growing could both provide biomass feedstock and also limit the runoff of nitrogen fertilizer into waterways -- all without hurting a farmer's profits. This is what a group of Argonne National Laboratory scientists has discovered through careful data collection and modeling at a cornfield in Fairbury, Illinois.

Scientists Drive Tiny Shock Waves Through Diamond

Researchers have used an X-ray laser to record, in detail never possible before, the microscopic motion and effects of shock waves rippling across diamond. The technique, developed at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, allows scientists to precisely explore the complex physics driving massive star explosions, which are critical for understanding fusion energy, and to improve scientific models used to study these phenomena.

Autonomous Taxis Would Deliver Significant Environmental and Economic Benefits

Imagine a fleet of driverless taxis roaming your city, ready to pick you up and take you to your destination at a moment's notice. While this may seem fantastical, it may be only a matter of time before it becomes reality. And according to a new study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, such a system would both be cost-effective and greatly reduce per-mile emissions of greenhouse gases.

Aluminum Clusters Shut Down Molecular Fuel Factory

When aluminum atoms bunch up, porous materials called zeolites lose their ability to convert oil to gasoline. An international team of scientists created the first 3-D atomic map of a zeolite in order to find out how to improve catalysts used to produce fuel, biofuel and other chemicals.

New CMI Process Recycles Magnets From Factory Floor

A new recycling method developed by scientists at the Critical Materials Institute, a U.S. Department of Energy Innovation Hub led by the Ames Laboratory, recovers valuable rare-earth magnetic material from manufacturing waste.

Homegrown Solution for Synchrotron Light Source

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory advanced ngle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (ARPES) to help study the electronic properties of new materials.

Scientists Propose New Model of the Source of a Mysterious Barrier to Fusion Known as the "Density Limit"

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have developed a detailed model of the source of a puzzling limitation on fusion reactions. The findings, published this month in Physics of Plasmas, complete and confirm previous PPPL research and could lead to steps to overcome the barrier if the model proves consistent with experimental data.

Magnetic Attraction

Researchers studying a broad spectrum of science, including biofuel production processes, climate effects on carbon cycling in the soil and carbon transformations in the atmosphere will soon have access to EMSL's new 21 Tesla Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometer. Scientists are eager to start getting molecular-level information for their research, and six inaugural studies were selected to use the new instrument through a Special Science Call.