Science and Research Highlights

Structural Snapshots of Tankyrase, a Protein Involved in a Rare Genetic Disorder and Potential Cancer Target

Structural Snapshots of Tankyrase, a Protein Involved in a Rare Genetic Disorder and Potential Cancer Target

December 15, 2011

A discovery made with the help of x-rays from the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory provides researchers with a greater understanding of the protein Tankyrase, which is linked to the bone development disorder cherubism and involved in a myriad of cellular processes, and may also lead to the development of new designer drugs to treat cancer.
The Road to Ultrahigh-Resolution X-ray Spectrometers

The Road to Ultrahigh-Resolution X-ray Spectrometers

November 22, 2011

Two recent developments at the Advanced Photon Source explore paths to routine use of sub-meV x-rays to probe low-energy excitations in matter. The first is a remarkable experimental demonstration of an x-ray optical scheme that produces x-ray beams with sub-meV linewidths (FWHM) and elimination of the normal Lorentzian tails. The second is a proposal for an alternate optical scheme that may achieve comparable x-ray bandwidths with less demanding optics.
How Atoms Behave: Characteristics of Microstructural Avalanches

How Atoms Behave: Characteristics of Microstructural Avalanches

November 17, 2011

Investigating how atoms move and rearrange themselves is fundamental to our understanding of the behavior of materials, in particular efforts aimed at engineering materials with enhanced functionality. Researchers using the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory have obtained new information about the phenomenon known as microstructural “avalanches” that is revealing important spatial characteristics.
Iodate Refuses to Intimidate

Iodate Refuses to Intimidate

November 11, 2011

Whether creating a catalyst for petroleum-free fuel or designing better drug therapies, scientists must accurately characterize and ions' actions in water in order to control it. A new study by researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Pacific Northwest and Argonne national laboratories, aided by the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne, answers a fundamental question about the behavior of large, negatively charged ions with multiple atoms, called polyoxyanions.
Creating the Heart of a Planet in the Heart of a Gem

Creating the Heart of a Planet in the Heart of a Gem

October 27, 2011

Although materials scientists have theorized for years that a form of super-dense aluminum exists under the extreme pressures found inside a planet’s core, no one had ever actually seen it. Until now, that is. Using a new table-top laser device in Japan and x-rays from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory, an international team of researchers has found a novel form of aluminum.
Hard as Diamond: A New Form of Carbon Created under Ultrahigh Pressure

Hard as Diamond: A New Form of Carbon Created under Ultrahigh Pressure

October 26, 2011

An amorphous diamond—one that lacks the crystalline structure that makes diamonds cleavable, but is every bit as hard—has been created by a team of researchers using a High Pressure Collaborative Access Team x-ray beamline at the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source. The uniform super-hardness of an amorphous diamond, and its light weight, could open up whole new areas of application.
Taking a Page from Nature to Build Better Nanomaterials

Taking a Page from Nature to Build Better Nanomaterials

October 26, 2011

A group of researchers has devised a unique experiment to mimic the natural process of biomineralization in order to create oriented gold nanocrystals and examine their formation at the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory.
How a Powerful Antibody Neutralizes HIV

How a Powerful Antibody Neutralizes HIV

October 26, 2011

Surprising details of how a powerful human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) antibody grabs hold of the virus have been uncovered by researchers using two U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science facilities including the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory. The findings highlight a major vulnerability of HIV and suggest a new target for vaccine development.
How Algae Use a “Sulfate Trap” to Selectively Biomineralize Strontium

How Algae Use a “Sulfate Trap” to Selectively Biomineralize Strontium

October 20, 2011

The radioactive isotope strontium-90 is known to pose serious health risks incuding cancer. Science has known for some time that certain organisms, such as a common form of algae, can selectively sequester strontium. But how this feat was achieved has remained a mystery. Now, researchers have uncovered the secrets of the algae thanks to studies carried out at the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory.
Emulating—and Surpassing—Nature

Emulating—and Surpassing—Nature

October 18, 2011

Northwestern University scientists, with help from an x-ray beamline at the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source, have learned how to top nature by building crystalline materials from nanoparticles and DNA.
Reducing Stress in Multilayer Laue Lenses

Reducing Stress in Multilayer Laue Lenses

September 16, 2011

Multilayer Laue lenses developed at the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source focus high-energy x-rays so tightly they can detect objects as small as 16 nanometers in size, and are in principle capable of focusing well below 10 nanometers. Now, studies carried out by researchers at the APS reveal a simple means to reduce stress in MLLs, removing a possible obstacle to maximizing the potential of these lenses.
Novel Magnetic Material Operates under Extreme Stress Conditions

Novel Magnetic Material Operates under Extreme Stress Conditions

September 15, 2011

Ferromagnetic materials are key ingredients in vast arrays of technologies, but exposing them to high heat or compressive stress usually destroys their magnetism, limiting their applications. Scientists utilizing the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory have found superb stability of ferromagnetism against compressive stress in an unconventional magnet.
Ringing the Hemoglobin Bell

Ringing the Hemoglobin Bell

September 6, 2011

Knowing the structure of a molecule is an important part of understanding it. That’s particularly true of proteins, the enormously complex molecular structures found at the heart of many important life processes. Researchers using the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory investigated the iron-based heme molecules at the reactive core of a multitude of proteins, and found new information about the vibrational dynamics of hemes.
Bragg Reflectivity of X-rays: At the Limit of the Possible

Bragg Reflectivity of X-rays: At the Limit of the Possible

August 22, 2011

Researchers utilizing the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory have demonstrated that synthetic, nearly defect-free diamond crystals can reflect more than 99% of hard x-ray photons backward in Bragg diffraction, with a remarkably small variation in the magnitude of reflectivity across the sample. This is a quantum leap to the largest reflectivity measured, at the limit of the theoretically possible.
Coherent Diffractive Imaging in Living Color

Coherent Diffractive Imaging in Living Color

August 9, 2011

Exactly 150 years after the first color photograph was produced, scientists have found a way to employ the full spectrum of colors from synchrotron and free-electron laser x radiation to image nanometer-sized subjects with unprecedented clarity and speed, and in three dimensions. This new research technique, developed at the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source, is expected to improve imaging on the nanoscale in the quest for advances in pharmaceuticals and materials for next-generation technologies.
Sending a Message: How Receptors Talk to G Proteins

Sending a Message: How Receptors Talk to G Proteins

August 9, 2011

The mechanism by which cells respond to stimuli and trigger hormonal responses, as well the senses of sight, smell, and taste, has for the first time been brought into focus with the help of high-brightness x-rays provided by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory, paving the way to new research avenues in drug discovery, cell signaling, and cellular regulation.
An Understanding of Elastin’s Properties Springs Forth

An Understanding of Elastin’s Properties Springs Forth

July 29, 2011

It’s not stretching the truth to say that flexibility is an important and desirable human physiological trait. Researchers using the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory have identified how a particular set of building-block molecules work together to confer elastic properties in tissues throughout the body.
Visualizing the Flow of Molten Rock through Seabed Mantle

Visualizing the Flow of Molten Rock through Seabed Mantle

July 27, 2011

New information about how most of the Earth’s crust formed has been uncovered by investigators who utilized the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne to obtain unprecedented, three-dimensional x-ray images of melted rock. Their results offer a more sophisticated picture of rock porosity and a resolution of the discrepancy between permeability and melt velocity.
How Dinosaurs Put Proteins into Long-Term Storage

How Dinosaurs Put Proteins into Long-Term Storage

July 19, 2011

How to prove that the protein isolated from a 68-million-year-old dinosaur bone is not a contamination? Researchers using x-rays from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory gathered important evidence supporting the ancient origin of putative dinosaur peptides and the mechanism by which they were preserved. These results could be used in the design of highly stable collagenous scaffolds to promote bone and tissue regeneration in humans.
Plutonium Tricks Cells by "Pretending" to be Iron

Plutonium Tricks Cells by "Pretending" to be Iron

July 14, 2011

A new biological pathway by which plutonium finds its way into mammalian cells has been revealed by researchers utilizing the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory.
A Chemical Detour to Quantum Criticality

A Chemical Detour to Quantum Criticality

July 7, 2011

Researchers working at the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory have gained new insight into a superconducting-type crystal structure that offers a different perspective on the structural possibilities that can control superconductivity.
Metallic Glass: A Crystal at Heart

Metallic Glass: A Crystal at Heart

June 17, 2011

The atoms in glass lack order and are arranged every which way. But when scientists used the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne to study tiny samples of a metallic glass squeezed under high pressure, they found that the atoms lined up in a regular pattern to form a single crystal. It’s the first glimpse of this hidden property in a glass and offers a new window into the atomic structure and behavior of metallic glasses. The more scientists learn about the structure of these commercially important materials, the more effectively they can design new metallic glasses and tinker with old ones to improve their performance.
Brain Iron as an Early Predictor of Alzheimer’s Disease

Brain Iron as an Early Predictor of Alzheimer’s Disease

June 15, 2011

Early and correct diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is important for reasons that go beyond treatment. New scientific information relevant this pernicious disease has been obtained by researchers utilizing the U. S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory and National Synchrotron Light Source at Brookhaven National Laboratory.
Osmosis in Colloidal Suspensions

Osmosis in Colloidal Suspensions

May 10, 2011

Colloidal suspensions are an integral part of our everyday life and they also serve as an excellent model system for basic science. Gaining insight into the mechanism governing the structure and the dynamics of colloidal suspensions known as bimodal mixtures would be valuable for fundamental understanding as well as for industrial applications. Scientists using the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory have gained a clearer picture of the relationship between the composition and the equilibrium dynamics in highly asymmetric bimodal colloidal suspensions.
Building a Better Battery

Building a Better Battery

April 23, 2011

Using a suite of advanced techniques, including the resources of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne, researchers have pieced together both the long-range and local structure of a lithium-rich compound, devising a model that could explain how such materials operate on the electrochemical level — and how to use them to build a better battery.
A New Method for Measuring X-ray Optics Aberrations

A New Method for Measuring X-ray Optics Aberrations

March 31, 2011

Research at national laboratories including the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne has produced an accurate and easy-to-implement technique for measuring aberrations in hard x-ray optics. This allows both optimized positioning of existing optics and quantitative feedback that can guide improved fabrication procedures for future optics.
New Clues for Asthma Treatment

New Clues for Asthma Treatment

March 17, 2011

New information that could help in the fight against asthma has been obtained by an international collaboration of scientists utilizing the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory. Their results show how an important human transmembrane protein functions at a molecular level and have the potential of leading to the development of improved drug therapies.
Extending Resonant Diffraction to Very High Energies for Structural Studies of Complex Materials

Extending Resonant Diffraction to Very High Energies for Structural Studies of Complex Materials

March 15, 2011

Researchers utilizing the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne Advanced Photon Source have added a twist to the high-energy x-ray pair-distribution-function technique by conducting measurements near heavy-element K absorption edges. This approach can be used to gain structural insight into the intrinsic disorder in complex materials, and has been applied to microelectronics applications and to PtPd core-shell nanoparticles relevant to fuel cell catalysis.
Tuning the Collective Properties of Artificial Nanoparticle Supercrystals

Tuning the Collective Properties of Artificial Nanoparticle Supercrystals

February 15, 2011

Precise ordering in two-dimensional and three-dimensional superlattices formed by the self-assembly of individual nanocrystals (NCs) allows for control of the magnetic, optical, and electronic coupling between the individual NCs. This control can lead to useful collective properties that have many potential applications in solar cells, field-effect transistors, light-emitting devices, photodetectors, and photoconductors.
The Workings of a Key Staph Enzyme and How to Block It

The Workings of a Key Staph Enzyme and How to Block It

January 28, 2011

Researchers utilizing a high-energy x-ray beamline at the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory have determined the structure and mechanism of an enzyme that performs the crucial first step in the formation of cholesterol and is a key virulence factor in staph bacteria.
Simple Lithium Is Good For Many Surprises

Simple Lithium Is Good For Many Surprises

January 13, 2011

Scientists using the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne have shown that under high pressure, lithium “prefers” the liquid state, and that it turns out to be the elemental metal with by far the lowest melting point. At high pressure, lithium also undergoes a series of phase changes into surprisingly complex structures.