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    New Way to Reduce Plant Lignin Could Lead to Cheaper Biofuels

    New Way to Reduce Plant Lignin Could Lead to Cheaper Biofuels

    Berkeley Lab scientists have shown for the first time that an enzyme can be tweaked to reduce lignin in plants. Their technique could help lower the cost of converting biomass into carbon-neutral fuels to power your car and other sustainably developed bio-products.

    A New Recipe for Biofuel: Genetic Diversity Can Lead to More Productive Growth in Switchgrass Crops

    A New Recipe for Biofuel: Genetic Diversity Can Lead to More Productive Growth in Switchgrass Crops

    A team of national laboratory and university researchers led by the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Argonne National Laboratory is growing large test plots of switchgrass crops with the farmer in mind. For the first time, researchers have mixed different genetic varieties of switchgrass on production-size plots, hypothesizing this could increase yield by extending the growing season, varying the size of the switchgrass plants to produce a fuller crop and potentially reducing the crop's vulnerability to weather fluctuations. A seven-year study showed the switchgrass variety mixture was, most consistently, the highest yielding crop, as measured by the harvested dry weight from each plot.

    Physicists Zoom in on Gluons' Contribution to Proton Spin

    Physicists Zoom in on Gluons' Contribution to Proton Spin

    By analyzing the highest-energy proton collisions at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), a particle collider at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory, nuclear physicists have gotten a glimpse of how a multitude of gluons that individually carry very little of the protons' overall momentum contribute to the protons' spin.

    PPPL Researchers Advance Understanding of Plasma Turbulence That Drains Heat From Fusion Reactors

    PPPL Researchers Advance Understanding of Plasma Turbulence That Drains Heat From Fusion Reactors

    Physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) appear to have gained important new insights into what affects turbulence within tokamaks, which can impact the leakage of heat from the fusion plasma. Understanding how fusion plasmas lose heat is crucial because the more a plasma is able to retain its heat the more efficient a fusion reactor can be.

    Biofuel Tech Straight From the Farm

    Biofuel Tech Straight From the Farm

    In the February 18, 2016 issue of Science, researchers from UCSB and including a DOE JGI team report that anaerobic gut fungi perform as well as the best fungi engineered by industry in their ability to convert plant material into sugars that are easily transformed into fuel and other products.

    Titan Probes Depths of Biofuel's Biggest Barrier

    Titan Probes Depths of Biofuel's Biggest Barrier

    To better understand exactly how lignin persists, researchers at the US Department of Energy's (DOE's) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) created one of the largest biomolecular simulations to date--a 23.7-million atom system representing pretreated biomass (cellulose and lignin) in the presence of enzymes. The size of the simulation required Titan, the flagship supercomputer at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF), a DOE Office of Science User Facility, to track and analyze the interaction of millions of atoms.

    Biofuel Researchers Employ Titan to Probe 'Lignin Shield'

    Biofuel Researchers Employ Titan to Probe 'Lignin Shield'

    Recently, a team led by Jeremy Smith, a Governor's Chair at the University of Tennessee (UT) and the director of the UT-ORNL Center for Molecular Biophysics (CMB), used the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility's (OLCF's) Titan supercomputer at ORNL to gain insight into the effectiveness of an experimental pretreatment developed by BESC researchers in California called Cosolvent Enhanced Lignocellulose Fractionation, or CELF. The OLCF is a DOE Office of Science User Facility located at ORNL.

    A New Spin on Quantum Computing: Scientists Train Electrons with Microwaves

    A New Spin on Quantum Computing: Scientists Train Electrons with Microwaves

    In what may provide a potential path to processing information in a quantum computer, researchers have switched an intrinsic property of electrons from an excited state to a relaxed state on demand using a device that served as a microwave "tuning fork."

    Most Precise Measurement of Energy Range for Particles Produced by Nuclear Reactors Reveals Surprises

    Most Precise Measurement of Energy Range for Particles Produced by Nuclear Reactors Reveals Surprises

    An international team that includes researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has captured the most precise--and puzzling--energy measurements yet of ghostly particles called reactor antineutrinos produced at a nuclear power complex in China.

    How True Is Conventional Wisdom About Price Volatility of Tech Metals?

    How True Is Conventional Wisdom About Price Volatility of Tech Metals?

    Preliminary research by the Colorado School of Mines (Mines) and funded by the Critical Materials Institute (CMI) suggests that conventional wisdom about the high price volatility of by-product metals and minerals is generally true, but with several caveats.

    Graphene Leans on Glass to Advance Electronics

    Graphene Leans on Glass to Advance Electronics

    Scientists have developed a simple and powerful method for creating resilient, customized, and high-performing graphene: layering it on top of common glass. This scalable and inexpensive process helps pave the way for a new class of microelectronic and optoelectronic devices--everything from efficient solar cells to touch screens.

    SLAC X-Ray Laser Turns Crystal Imperfections Into Better Images of Important Biomolecules

    SLAC X-Ray Laser Turns Crystal Imperfections Into Better Images of Important Biomolecules

    Often the most difficult step in taking atomic-resolution images of biological molecules is getting them to form high-quality crystals needed for X-ray studies of their structure. Now researchers have shown they can get sharp images even with imperfect crystals using the world's brightest X-ray source at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

    Scientists Take Nanoparticle Snapshots

    Scientists Take Nanoparticle Snapshots

    An international team of researchers led by X-ray scientist Christoph Bostedt of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory and Tais Gorkhover of DOE's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory used two special lasers to observe the dynamics of a small sample of xenon as it was heated to a plasma.

    'Lasers Rewired': Scientists Find a New Way to Make Nanowire Lasers

    'Lasers Rewired': Scientists Find a New Way to Make Nanowire Lasers

    Scientists at Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley have found a simple new way to produce nanoscale wires that can serve as bright, stable and tunable lasers--an advance toward using light to transmit data.

    Chiral Magnetic Effect Generates Quantum Current

    Chiral Magnetic Effect Generates Quantum Current

    Scientists at the U.S Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory and Stony Brook University have discovered a new way to generate very low-resistance electric current in a new class of materials. The discovery, which relies on the separation of right- and left-"handed" particles, points to a range of potential applications in energy, quantum computing, and medical imaging, and possibly even a new mechanism for inducing superconductivity--the ability of some materials to carry current with no energy loss.

    Scientists Propose "Pumpjack" Mechanism for Splitting and Copying DNA

    Scientists Propose "Pumpjack" Mechanism for Splitting and Copying DNA

    New close-up images of the proteins that copy DNA inside the nucleus of a cell have led a team of scientists to propose a brand new mechanism for how this molecular machinery works. The scientists studied proteins from yeast cells, which share many features with the cells of complex organisms such as humans, and could offer new insight into ways that DNA replication can go awry.

    Graphene Is Strong, but Is It Tough?

    Graphene Is Strong, but Is It Tough?

    Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have developed the first known statistical theory for the toughness of polycrystalline graphene, which is made with chemical vapor deposition, and found that it is indeed strong, but more importantly, its toughness--or resistance to fracture--is quite low.

    Scientists Guide Gold Nanoparticles to Form "Diamond" Superlattices

    Scientists Guide Gold Nanoparticles to Form "Diamond" Superlattices

    Using bundled strands of DNA to build Tinkertoy-like tetrahedral cages, scientists have devised a way to trap and arrange nanoparticles in a way that mimics the crystalline structure of diamond. The achievement of this complex yet elegant arrangement may open a path to new materials that take advantage of the optical and mechanical properties of this crystalline structure for applications such as optical transistors, color-changing materials, and lightweight yet tough materials.

    Scientists Take Key Step Toward Custom-Made Nanoscale Chemical Factories

    Scientists Take Key Step Toward Custom-Made Nanoscale Chemical Factories

    Scientists have for the first time reengineered a building block of a geometric nanocompartment that occurs naturally in bacteria. The new design provides an entirely new functionality that greatly expands the potential for these compartments to serve as custom-made chemical factories.

    Story Tips From the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, February 2016

    Story Tips From the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, February 2016

    Batteries for grid, stationary uses get a boost with new technology; ORNL hosting neuromorphic computing workshop; ORNL part of team developing cleaner biomass cookstove; ORNL has key role in Critical Materials Institute work; Study of nanocrystal growth key to developing new materials; U.S. coastal populations face potential risks with climate change.

    New Galaxy-hunting Sky Camera Sees Redder Better

    New Galaxy-hunting Sky Camera Sees Redder Better

    A newly upgraded camera that incorporates light sensors developed at Berkeley Lab is now one of the best cameras on the planet for studying outer space at red wavelengths that are too red for the human eye to see.

    Coupling 2 'Tabletop' Laser-Plasma Accelerators, a Decisive First Step Toward Tomorrow's Ultrapowerful Compact Machines

    Coupling 2 'Tabletop' Laser-Plasma Accelerators, a Decisive First Step Toward Tomorrow's Ultrapowerful Compact Machines

    In an experiment packed with scientific firsts, researchers at Berkeley Lab's BELLA Center demonstrated that a laser pulse can accelerate an electron beam and couple it to a second laser plasma accelerator, where another laser pulse accelerates the beam to higher energy.

    Tiniest Particles Shrink Before Exploding When Hit with SLAC's X-Ray Laser

    Tiniest Particles Shrink Before Exploding When Hit with SLAC's X-Ray Laser

    Researchers assumed that tiny objects would instantly blow up when hit by extremely intense light from the world's most powerful X-ray laser at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. But to their astonishment, these nanoparticles initially shrank instead - a finding that provides a glimpse of the unusual world of superheated nanomaterials that could eventually also help scientists further develop X-ray techniques for taking atomic images of individual molecules.

    Putting Silicon 'Sawdust' in a Graphene Cage Boosts Battery Performance

    Putting Silicon 'Sawdust' in a Graphene Cage Boosts Battery Performance

    Scientists have been trying for years to make a practical lithium-ion battery anode out of silicon, which could store 10 times more energy per charge than today's commercial anodes and make high-performance batteries a lot smaller and lighter. But two major problems have stood in the way: Silicon particles swell, crack and shatter during battery charging, and they react with the battery electrolyte to form a coating that saps their performance.

    You'll Never Be-Leaf What Makes Up This Battery

    Scientists at the University of Maryland have a new recipe for batteries: Bake a leaf, and add sodium. They used a carbonized oak leaf, pumped full of sodium, as a demonstration battery's negative terminal, or anode, according to a paper published yesterday in the journal ACS Applied Materials Interfaces.