Advanced Photon Source

An Office of Science National User Facility

Chemical and Materials Science: Research Highlights

Research Highlights

Probing He bubbles in naturally aged and annealed δ-Pu alloys using ultra-small-angle x-ray scattering

January 2018

The self-irradiation of Pu alloys generates He that is trapped within the metal matrix in the form of He bubbles. The distribution of these He bubbles in δ-phase Pu-Ga alloys exhibits a peak near a radius of 0.7 nm, and this size is remarkably stable as function of time. When annealed, the He bubbles in δ-Pu alloys grow, coarsening the distribution. However, the magnitude of this coarsening is uncertain, as different experimental methods reveal bubbles that differ by at least one order of magnitude. Small-angle x-ray scattering results, which can probe a wide range of bubble sizes, imply only a mild coarsening of the He bubble distribution for an annealing treatment of 425 ∘C for 24 h, and analysis of the He bubble content suggests that He is actually lost from the bubbles with annealing.

A New Catalyst for Making Fuels from Shale Gas

January 23, 2018

In a new study, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, Tufts University and Oak Ridge National Laboratory teamed up to explore the potential of rhodium-based catalysts for this conversion under milder conditions. “Our work shows the potential of rhodium to enable this conversion under ‘mild conditions’ such as lower temperatures,” said Argonne X-ray scientist Sungsik Lee. “Converting methane to methanol under mild conditions could have significant applications and present a breakthrough in catalysis.”

Making fuel out of thick air

December 7, 2017

In a new study, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, Tufts University and Oak Ridge National Laboratory teamed up to explore the potential of rhodium-based catalysts for this conversion under milder conditions. “Our work shows the potential of rhodium to enable this conversion under ‘mild conditions’ such as lower temperatures,” said Argonne X-ray scientist Sungsik Lee. “Converting methane to methanol under mild conditions could have significant applications and present a breakthrough in catalysis.”

Chemical “dance” of cobalt catalysis could pave way to solar fuels

June 2, 2017

By splitting a water molecule into two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen, scientists can use the boundless energy of the sun to make a clean fuel. In a new study from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory and Harvard University, scientists have for the first time been able to see an especially important step in the water-splitting process, which may bring us closer to abundant solar energy for all.

Tunable Amorphous Photonic Materials with Pigmentary Colloidal Nanostructures

January 31, 2017

Amorphous photonic structures using pigmentary α-Fe2O3/SiO2 core–shell nanoparticles are succesfully fabricated. The resulting non-iridicent brilliant colors can be manipulated by shell thickness, particle concentration, and external electrical stimuli using electrophoretic deposition process. Fully reversible and instantaneous color changes as well as noticeable difference between transmitted and reflected colors is...

Technique improves the efficacy of fuel cells

May 16, 2016

Solid oxide fuel cells, which rely on low-cost ceramic materials, are among the most efficient and promising type of fuel cell. Now, researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, SciEnergy Systems, Purdue University and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory have found a way to harness the quantum behavior of these fuel cells to make them even more efficient and robust. In doing so, they’ve observed a new type of phase transition in an oxide material.

Entropy Stabalized AlloysResearchers create first entropy-stabilized complex oxide alloys

September 29, 2015

Researchers from North Carolina State University and Duke University have created the first entropy-stabilized alloy that incorporates oxides – and demonstrated conclusively that the crystalline structure of the material can be determined by disorder at the atomic scale rather than chemical bonding.

The researchers then used the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory and X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy to determine that the constituent atoms in the entropy-stabilized oxide were evenly distributed and that their placement in the crystalline lattice structure was random.

light DNA nanoparticle crystalsControl of Light with DNA-Nanoparticle Crystals

April 13, 2015

DNA enables one to precisely place nanoparticles into periodic structures (called “superlattices”) in two or three dimensions as either large films or near-perfect single crystals. By constructing the superlattices from gold nanoparticles, a Northwestern University research group, carrying out studies at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source (APS), reported in Nature Nanotechnology that they can precisely control how light flows though and interacts with these materials.

Layered Nanostructure DNALayered 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. A new strategy uses the binding properties of complementary strands of DNA to attach nanoparticles to each other and builds up a layered thin-film nanostructure through a series of controlled steps. Investigation at the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science'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.

water soft nanoparticles suspensionsWater-Like Properties of Soft Nanoparticle Suspensions

November 25, 2013

This discovery, which is the first instance of experimental observation of such behavior in a colloidal suspension, allows for an extension of the toolbox of the experimental physicist interested in employing suspensions to mimic molecular liquids, with the added advantage of readily accessible length and time scales.

A Novel Nanobio Catalyst for BiofuelsA Novel Nanobio Catalyst for Biofuels

August 27, 2012

Researchers working at U.S. Department of Energy facilities at Argonne National Laboratory including the Advanced Photon Source, have synthesized and characterized monodisperse gold-core silver-shell nanoparticles using a bio-template that has potential as a water soluble catalyst for creating fuel from biomass such as dead trees, branches and tree stumps, yard clippings, wood chips, and even municipal solid waste

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.

Velcro for NanoparticlesVelcro for Nanoparticles

November 17, 2010

DNA can do more than direct how bodies are made. It can also direct the composition of many kinds of materials, according to a new study from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne.

Better Switching Through Chemistry in Thin FerroelectricsBetter Switching Through Chemistry in Thin Ferroelectrics

February 24, 2009

Because the atomic structure and polarity of ferroelectric materials respond dramatically to an applied electric field, they have found many applications. But what if there were another way to make ferroelectric materials do their thing—not electrically, but through another mechanism? Experimenters using an x-ray beamline at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source have managed to do just that, proving that not just electricity but also a little bit of chemistry can flip the structure and thus the polarity of a ferroelectric.

Assembling Nanoparticles the Easy DNA-WayAssembling 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.