The Advanced Photon Source
a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility

A series of diagrams of shapes representing the HIV glycoprotein, showing the steps between the closed and open states.

Research with Impact:

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) has a remarkable ability to evade our immune system. Efforts to understand the structural basis for this immune evasion have been challenged by the envelope glycoprotein’s (ENV) poor solubility and instability that have made it difficult to purify and crystallize. Research from a team at Duke University and the University of Chicago has provided new findings on the microsecond dynamics of the ENV structure that could jumpstart the next round of vaccine development.

An image of a plant, X-ray structures of proteins and charts of molecules showcase the new protein discovered by researchers.

Research with Impact:

Scientists have identified a plant protein with an unexpected mechanism for producing a class of molecules that have therapeutic potential in various diseases, including cancer. Once better understood with further research, it might be possible to harness the chemical processes of the protein to bioengineer new medicines.

Two sets of colored graphics, one showing a singe peptide and the second showing two interleaved peptides.

Research with Impact:

Rippled β-sheet structures may be useful tools for the creation of improved biomaterials, such as more stable hydrogels for drug delivery, and may have therapeutic uses in understanding or perhaps treating diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and type 2 diabetes. Recent research has extended our understanding of rippled β sheet structures at the atomic level.

Three schematics that show with increasing detail triangles forming star shapes and 3D patterns followed by a blue graph with a red spot denoting electron energy.

Research with Impact:

Quantum materials are increasingly being explored for their exotic properties. One phenomenon called an electronic flat band can occur in quantum materials with just the right geometric structure. These bands enhance electron-electron interactions that produce unusual and technologically important behavior. 

Illustrations of structures of proteins captured by X-rays.

Research with Impact:

Scientists have long wondered how the initial chemical reactions of life began and why some reactions, like that for DNA polymerization, persisted while others did not. Recent work conducted at the APS found some answers to these questions that improve our understanding of the origins of life.

A microscopy image of gray fibers inerweaved with one another next to a graph showing results of X-ray observations depicted in blue, pink, green and yellow lines.

Research with Impact:

Three-dimensional carbon superstructures are useful in a wide variety of applications, including batteries, catalysis and gas storage. Now scientists have come up with an easy and inexpensive way to make one- and two-dimensional versions of the same material.  


Four cloud-shaped illustrations showing the antigen bound to four different, smaller cloud-like shapes representing antibodies, colored in green, orange, pink and blue.

Research with Impact:

An international research team dedicated to eliminating malaria used the Advanced Photon Source to study monoclonal antibodies bound to antigen peptides. They discovered that one of the four binding modes leads to inhibitory antibody activity. 

A graph showing data points on a sloping line, an illustration of two diamonds with a sample of material between them, and an image taken at the APS beamline of a sample under pressure.

Research with Impact:

A team of investigators explored the phase diagram of iron oxide up to the pressures it would encounter at Earth’s core-mantle boundary for the first time. Their goal was to discover whether ultralow-velocity zones beneath the surface could be enriched with iron oxide, accounting for their effect on seismic waves. 

A colorful series of circles connected by lines, signifying atoms. A magnified view of one section of the illustration shows more exact detail.

Research with Impact:

Converting hydrocarbon gases into more valuable forms can help fight the buildup of atmospheric carbon that causes global warming. A group of scientists using the Advanced Photon Source have demonstrated a catalyst that uses a ready source of oxygen and operates at near-ambient temperatures.

Graphic representation of an X-ray beam striking a sample and sending data to a detector at an APS beamline.

Research with Impact:

Methods aimed at identifying defects in cathodes must be able to assess their crystal structures during active charging/discharging, and in three dimensions. Researchers used the APS to track the evolution of defects in two different sodium-ion battery cathode materials. Their results showed a unique pattern of transient defects in these materials, results that could eventually help scientists engineer longer lasting and better performing cathodes.


Advanced Photon Source Research with Positive Impacts on Our Health

Escape Artist:  Research at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source sheds light on the ways in which compromised immunity may render SARS-CoV-2 fitter and capable of evading the immune system.


The Advanced Photon Source is undergoing a comprehensive upgrade to replace its original electron storage ring with a new, state-of-the-art accelerator. This will increase the brightness of APS X-ray beams by up to 500 times, and new beamlines will be constructed to take advantage of these improved capabilities. The facility will be closed for operations during this time.

Visit the APS Upgrade webpage for information about the project’s progress and future science at the facility. We look forward to completing the project and welcoming our users back to the APS this year.