Science and Research Highlights

Finding the Controls of a Go-To Enzyme

Finding the Controls of a Go-To Enzyme

December 16, 2008

Research at three U.S. Department of Energy x-ray light sources, including the Advanced Photon Source, may provide the key to understanding how to better treat a wide array of disorders brought on by one of the body’s workhorse molecular enzymes.
Watching Liquids Separate at White Heat

Watching Liquids Separate at White Heat

October 30, 2008

Using temperatures approaching those found on the surface of the sun and intense x-ray beams from two synchrotron x-ray facilities, including the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory, researchers have observed liquids separating into two different states – one lighter and more perfect than the other – the first time the phenomenon has been seen in any liquid at any temperature. The researchers expect this discovery to have profound implications for gaining a greater understanding of liquids.
A New Spin on Inducing Chirality in Pre-biological Molecules

A New Spin on Inducing Chirality in Pre-biological Molecules

October 23, 2008

Researchers using an x-ray beamline at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source demonstrated that a previously unconsidered mechanism can play a role in chiral-selective chemistry: namely low-energy spin-polarized secondary electrons, produced by irradiation of a magnetic substrate.
How Ancient Rock Got Off to a Hot Start

How Ancient Rock Got Off to a Hot Start

October 22, 2008

A new technique that uses high-brightness x-ray beams at the Argonne Advanced Photon Source has enabled scientists to play “detective” and solve a debate about the origins of a three-billion-year-old fragment of magma, opening the door to the possibility of new discoveries about our planet's past.
A Quantum of Vibration in an Unexpected Place

A Quantum of Vibration in an Unexpected Place

October 21, 2008

Studies carried out at the Argonne Advanced Photon Source have confirmed a link between specific phonon modes in biological proteins and biological function, showing that the physical concept of phonons, when observed at the correct length scale, is useful in biology, too.
A Virus That Can Infect Lung Cancer Cells

A Virus That Can Infect Lung Cancer Cells

October 21, 2008

The structure of a virus that is harmless to normal human cells but an enemy of certain cancer cells has been determined by researchers using the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory. This new knowledge may help drug designers tweak the pathogen enough so that it can attack other tumor subtypes.
Imaging Plant Viruses Could Yield New Ways to Safeguard Crops

Imaging Plant Viruses Could Yield New Ways to Safeguard Crops

October 3, 2008

Flexible filamentous viruses make up a large fraction of known plant viruses and are responsible for more than half the viral damage to crop plants throughout the world. New images of the viruses’ structures have been revealed by scientists using an x-ray beamline at the Advanced Photon Source at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory. The findings could lead to new ways of protecting crop plants from these viruses.
Extreme Pressure Reveals a Volume Expansion Phenomenon

Extreme Pressure Reveals a Volume Expansion Phenomenon

September 26, 2008

Understanding the behavior of materials under extreme conditions is an important area of investigation in materials science and a key to developing new materials with superior qualities. Researchers using an x-ray beamline at the Argonne Advanced Photon Source answered a long-standing question about the electrical properties of an important material subjected to extreme pressure, and showed that a new x-ray technique holds great promise for gaining insights about the properties of materials.
A Nuclear Receptor with Implications for a Host of Diseases

A Nuclear Receptor with Implications for a Host of Diseases

September 25, 2008

The molecular structure of a nuclear receptor that may serve as a drug target for diseases related to heart and blood-vessel development, human embryonic development, and female infertility has been solved by researchers using an x-ray beamline at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory.
Unexpected Materials in Earth’s Lowermost Mantle

Unexpected Materials in Earth’s Lowermost Mantle

September 25, 2008

Materials deep inside the Earth have unexpected atomic properties that might cause scientists to revise their models of Earth’s internal processes, according to a team of researchers carrying out experiments at an x-ray beamline at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne Advanced Photon Source.
Nailing Down the Exciton in LiF

Nailing Down the Exciton in LiF

September 17, 2008

Excitons are a key element in the functioning of semiconductors and insulators. Understanding their structure and behavior is vitally important to the development of new materials and technologies. Research by experimenters using two beamlines at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne Advanced Photon Source could set the stage for improving materials used for alternative energy sources, while settling a 70-year-old controversy.
DNA Editing Tool Flips Its Target

DNA Editing Tool Flips Its Target

September 10, 2008

Imagine having to copy an entire book by hand without missing a comma. Our cells face a similar task every time they divide. They must duplicate both their DNA and a subtle pattern of punctuation-like modifications on the DNA known as methylation. Scientists using an x-ray beamline at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne Advanced Photon Source caughtt in action one of the tools mammalian cells use to maintain their pattern of methylation.
Unraveling a Leukemia Thread

Unraveling a Leukemia Thread

August 13, 2008

A potentially important step in the treatment of leukemia has been taken by researchers who used an x-ray beamline at the Argonne Advanced Photon Source to determine the structure of a receptor in the blood control system that, when damaged, is responsible for a variety of diseases, including certain types of leukemia and some inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and asthma. This discovery helps to explain, for the first time, how this receptor is activated and could form a springboard for the development of new treatments.
Quantum Physics Makes Water Different

Quantum Physics Makes Water Different

August 11, 2008

The lengths of bonds connecting water molecules demonstrate quantum effects and help explain some of water’s weirdness, according to research carried out at the Argonne Advanced Photon Source, combined with neutron data from Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Didcot, England, and a computer simulation. (Reprinted with permission from ScienceNews, copyright 2008)
Weird Oxygen Bonding under Pressure

Weird Oxygen Bonding under Pressure

August 8, 2008

Oxygen, the third most abundant element in the cosmos and essential to life on Earth, changes its form dramatically under pressure. Researchers using two x-ray beamlines at the Argonne Advanced Photon Source have gained new insights into the molecular interactions that occur as oxygen undergoes transitions, in particular the origin of a particular (and important) molecular cluster in the red-colored dense solid oxygen.
A Breakthrough in Improving Osteoporosis Drug Design

A Breakthrough in Improving Osteoporosis Drug Design

August 8, 2008

Current drug therapies for osteoporosis carry a variety of undesirable side effects. But relief may be closer now that researchers using an x-ray beamline at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne Advanced Photon Source have determined how a hormone that is used to treat osteoporosis precisely binds to its receptor. Drug developers can use this information to aid in the design of more potent therapies that lack side effects.
Allaying Structural-Alloy Corrosion

Allaying Structural-Alloy Corrosion

July 30, 2008

The search for ways to conserve energy is leading scientists to explore unexpected but important avenues. Argonne researchers using three U.S. Department of Energy facilities have developed a new alloy that could save over $1 billion per year in lost energy for the U.S. hydrogen industry alone. Read the Chicago Tribune article.
Putting the Pressure on MOFs

Putting the Pressure on MOFs

July 30, 2008

Metal-organic framework (MOF) materials have a wide range of possible applications, from filtering, capturing, or detecting molecules such as carbon dioxide, to storing large amounts of hydrogen in a very small space for use in fuel cells for cars. But a better understanding of how MOFs react to real-world conditions outside of the controlled conditions of the laboratory is needed before such practical uses can be fully realized. Research at the Advanced Photon Source by scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory has important implications for the ways MOFs might be utilized.
Hearing the Highest Pitches

Hearing the Highest Pitches

July 16, 2008

Sound waves in a solid with wavelengths not much longer than the distance between atoms can potentially probe material properties almost on atomic scales. But detecting such vibrations is no easy feat. Two research teams offer new ways to detect these vibrations, paving the way for studies of nanostructures, thin films, and interfaces between materials with high resolution in both space and time. (From “Physical Review Focus”)
Newly Described “Dragon” Protein Could Be Key to Bird Flu Cure

Newly Described “Dragon” Protein Could Be Key to Bird Flu Cure

July 16, 2008

Scientists and researchers using x-ray crystallography at the Argonne Advanced Photon Source have taken a big step closer to a cure for the most common strain of avian influenza, or “bird flu,” the potential pandemic that has claimed more than 200 lives and infected nearly 400 people in 14 countries since it was identified in 2003.
Unveiling the Secrets of Nanoparticle Haloing

Unveiling the Secrets of Nanoparticle Haloing

June 9, 2008

A new colloidal stabilization method characterized by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Photon Source may give scientists a new way to control the stability of some colloidal suspensions, a process that could open pathways to new materials.
A Fruit-Fly Protein that Captures Tumor Growth Factors

A Fruit-Fly Protein that Captures Tumor Growth Factors

May 30, 2008

Researchers using the Argonne Advanced Photon Source have shown how Argos, a fruit fly protein, acts as a “decoy” receptor, binding growth factors that promote the progression of cancer, information that may lead to new drug designs.
An X-ray Vortex on the Horizon?

An X-ray Vortex on the Horizon?

May 5, 2008

Argonne physicists have shown theoretically that the harmonics of the x-ray radiation from a helical undulator have the twisted-phase front and singular core characteristic of an optical vortex, a tornado-like state of light that carries orbital angular momentum. An "x-ray vortex" beam has the capability to make tiny particles swirl in its field and may be useful for the exploration of previously inaccessible quadrupole and other electronic transitions. Until now, production of x-ray vortices has required inefficient optics that must be tuned to the x-ray beam energy.
A Protein that Repairs Damage to Cancer Cells

A Protein that Repairs Damage to Cancer Cells

May 5, 2008

University of Chicago scientists using two x-ray beamlines at the Argonne Advanced Photon Source have shown how a protein detects and repairs damage in human cells; the study raises the possibility of designing a molecule that could interfere with the repair process, making a certain type of cancer treatment more effective.
Scientists Discover How Nanocluster Contaminants Increase Risk of Spreading

Scientists Discover How Nanocluster Contaminants Increase Risk of Spreading

April 24, 2008

Scientists have known that nanometer-size clusters of plutonium oxide are responsible for plutonium contamination spreading further in groundwater than expected, increasing the risk of sickness in humans and animals. But the nature of the clusters remained a mystery until researchers using x-ray beams from the Argonne Advanced Photon Source were able to solve the structure of the clusters and begin to unlock their secrets.
How Two Drops Become One

How Two Drops Become One

April 24, 2008

Scientists from Argonne National Laboratory, using an x-ray beamline at the Argonne Advanced Photon Source, have found a window into the process of water drop coalescence, employing ultrafast pulses of full-spectrum, high-intensity x-rays to capture with unprecedented clarity and definition the moment of two water droplets becoming one.
Mobile RNA is Poised and Ready

Mobile RNA is Poised and Ready

April 10, 2008

Research at two Advanced Photon Source x-ray beamlines has produced a new picture of a genetic parasite isolated from a deep-sea bacterium that is helping researchers see how certain specialized segments of RNA escape from their positions in the genome and invade new RNA or DNA. The mobility of these genetic elements has had a profound influence on evolution, promoting diversity among the world's most ancient organisms.
Glass Does a Double-Take

Glass Does a Double-Take

April 4, 2008

How and why glass forms remains a scientific mystery. But experiments by scientists from Yale University and Argonne using the Advanced Photon Source have shown that, sometimes, heating a liquid can also turn it into a glass. By confirming predictions from recent theories about the transition of liquids to glass, their work might make glass a bit less mysterious.
Welcoming a New Family of Superconductors

Welcoming a New Family of Superconductors

April 3, 2008

A new family of superconductors has been discovered by an international research team using the Argonne Advanced Photon Source. This research could eventually lead to the design of better superconducting materials for a wide variety of industrial uses.
Assembling Nanoparticles the Easy DNA-Way

Assembling Nanoparticles the Easy DNA-Way

February 26, 2008

Researchers from Northwestern University and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory have produced a system that can be used to guide the assembly of colloidal crystals—a material widely used in photonics and electronics among other areas. Their results appeared as the cover article in Nature magazine.
The Collagen Protein Viewed at Unprecedented Detail

The Collagen Protein Viewed at Unprecedented Detail

February 26, 2008

The structure and behavior of one of the most common proteins in our bodies has been resolved at a level of detail never before seen, thanks to new research performed at the Advanced Photon Source at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory.
A Lensless X-ray Camera for Nanoscale Materials and Biological Specimens

A Lensless X-ray Camera for Nanoscale Materials and Biological Specimens

February 26, 2008

A lensless x-ray technique that can take images of ultra-small structures buried in nanoparticles and nanomaterials, and features within whole biological cells such as cellular nuclei, has been developed by researchers using the Argonne Advanced Photon Source.
Better, cleaner fuel injectors for automobiles?

Better, cleaner fuel injectors for automobiles?

February 20, 2008

Scientists are getting a better look inside high-speed, dense liquid jets thanks to a new experimental technique and the extreme-brightness x-ray beams from the Argonne Advanced Photon Source.
Poxvirus Potency Uncovered in New Atomic Map

Poxvirus Potency Uncovered in New Atomic Map

February 11, 2008

New details about the infectious potency of poxviruses have been uncovered by researchers using a South East Regional Collaborative Access Team x-ray beamline at the Argonne Advanced Photon Source, furthering our understanding of how one protein in viral infections can subvert the body’s immune system and potentially speeding the discovery of drugs to combat inflammation and immune diseases such as atherosclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Striking Nano Gold

Striking Nano Gold

February 6, 2008

Researchers using the General Medicine and Cancer Institutes Collaborative Access Team facility at the Argonne Advanced Photon Source have acquired new information that will accelerate the development of practical applications for monolayer-protected gold nanoparticles, an area of intense research activity.
Oldest Known Magnet’s Secrets Revealed Under High Pressures

Oldest Known Magnet’s Secrets Revealed Under High Pressures

February 1, 2008

Researchers using two high-brightness x-ray beamlines at the Argonne Advanced Photon Source have uncovered new information about the coupling between magnetic and electrical properties of the venerable and highly useful material magnetite.
Shedding Light on Protein Drug Interactions

Shedding Light on Protein Drug Interactions

January 23, 2008

Proteins, the biological molecules that are involved in virtually every action of every organism, may themselves move in surprising ways, according to a recent study carried out at the Argonne Advanced Photon Source. This work may shed new light on how proteins interact with drugs and other small molecules.