Science and Research Highlights

New Materials for Capturing Carbon Dioxide from Combustion Gases

New Materials for Capturing Carbon Dioxide from Combustion Gases

April 9, 2014

The demand for energy, especially cleaner energy, motivated work at the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science′s Advanced Photon Source that characterized new porous metal-organic materials, which hold great promise for decreasing power-plant greenhouse gas emissions by removing carbon dioxide from post-combustion chamber gases.
Building Better Catalysts for Splitting Water

Building Better Catalysts for Splitting Water

April 1, 2014

The dream of a hydrogen economy may depend on developing an energy-efficient strategy for splitting water into oxygen and hydrogen. The problem is that water bonds are very stable, requiring hefty energy inputs to break. Using measurements from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science′s Advanced Photon Source and Center for Nanoscale Materials, researchers analyzed the stability and composition of three small clusters of palladium that are under investigation as potential water-splitting catalysts and identified bonds that appear to be essential for catalytic function, allowing scientists to design better water-splitting catalysts.
Catalysts Caught in the Act Undergo Radical Rearrangements During Reactions

Catalysts Caught in the Act Undergo Radical Rearrangements During Reactions

March 27, 2014

The atomic-scale structure and chemical properties of catalysts remain surprisingly mysterious, despite the critical roles that catalysts play in a variety of industrial and environmental applications. Researchers working at the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science′s Advanced Photon Source teased out structural and chemical information about a single layer of vanadium oxide, a catalyst, supported on the surface of a titanium oxide crystal, making it possible for scientists to improve catalysts by strategically altering their structures.
A Layered Nanostructure Held Together By DNA

A Layered Nanostructure Held Together By DNA

March 18, 2014

Dreaming up nanostructures that have desirable optical, electronic, or magnetic properties is one thing. Figuring out how to make them is another. Investigation by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy′s Advanced Photon Source has revealed the precise form that the structures adopted, and points to ways of exercising still greater control over the final arrangement.
Fishing for Viral RNA

Fishing for Viral RNA

March 7, 2014

Retroviruses like HIV-1, which causes AIDS, go to a lot of trouble to replicate themselves and further their infectious cycles. While the molecular details of this process are known, one mystery is how HIV-1 recognizes and fishes out its own RNA from among all the other RNAs in the nucleus, an essential step in viral replication. New research at the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science′s Advanced Photon Source has defined the protein-structural basis for this process and may also help in the design of drugs that target HIV-1 infection for treatment of patients with AIDS.
Squeezing Out the Hidden Lives of Electrons

Squeezing Out the Hidden Lives of Electrons

February 26, 2014

The key to understanding what causes changes in material conductivity lies in teasing out contributions from structural atomic arrangements and electron interactions. Researchers using high-energy x-rays from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science′s Advanced Photon Source disentangled these components in vanadium sesquioxide. By decoupling the effects of spin, charge, and lattice variables, they uncovered a mechanism that has eluded researchers for six decades.
Cooking Up New Nanoribbons to Make Better White LEDs

Cooking Up New Nanoribbons to Make Better White LEDs

February 24, 2014

Light-emitting diodes use significantly less energy and have far longer lifetimes than do traditional incandescent bulbs. Scientists are using high-brightness x-rays from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science′s Advanced Photon Source to help explore and fine-tune new compounds in the form of nanoribbons that luminesce brightly in different colors and make more appealing white lights based on light-emitting diodes.
PbTiO<sub>3</sub>/SrTiO<sub>3</sub> Superlattice Components Respond Differently in an Electric Field

PbTiO3/SrTiO3 Superlattice Components Respond Differently in an Electric Field

February 17, 2014

Experiments at the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science′s Advanced Photon Source studied the changes occurring in the domain pattern and atomic structure of a superlattice. These insights have the potential to extend the functionalities of complex oxides by providing the means to tune the field and time dependences of a material′s electronic properties, perhaps paving the way for their use in new, multifunctional microelectronic devices.
Imaging Ferroelectric Domains

Imaging Ferroelectric Domains

January 29, 2014

When thin films of ferroelectric materials are grown on single-crystal substrates, they can develop domains with complex patterns. Changing the properties of the substrate and interfaces of the materials can control the size and shape of the domains and influence the material′s behavior, so to understand details of local polarization, it is important to accurately image the domains. At the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science′s Advanced Photon Source, researchers utilized Bragg projection ptychography for ferroelectric domain imaging, potentially improving critical technologies such as memory storage.
Improved Low-Temperature Performance of Catalytic Converters

Improved Low-Temperature Performance of Catalytic Converters

January 27, 2014

Toxic vehicle emissions, such as carbon monoxide and unburned hydrocarbons, are chemically converted to benign compounds by catalytic converters, which are valuable but expensive. To reduce costs, experiments are being done to lessen the amount of platinum and substitute palladium in the converters. Research at the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science′s Advanced Photon Source indicates that a palladium/lanthanum-alumina catalyst may result in a reduced-cost catalytic converter with improved low-temperature carbon monoxide oxidation reactivity.
Earth's Core Reveals an Inner Weakness

Earth's Core Reveals an Inner Weakness

January 23, 2014

Contrary to popular opinion, the iron found in the Earth's core is relatively weak. That is the finding from experiments carried out using x-rays from two U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science light sources including the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory show that. This weakness may explain how the crystal structure in the Earth's core has transformed over geological time scales.
How Do Bacteria Repair Damage from the Sun?

How Do Bacteria Repair Damage from the Sun?

January 22, 2014

All organisms have mechanisms that they use to repair DNA damaged by ultraviolet light. New research shows that the current model for how UV repair functions must be reworked. Researchers from Harvard University utilizing the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source provide new insights into the fundamental mechanisms of DNA repair and into diseases that are caused by mutations in these genes.