Nature provides myriad examples of unique materials and structures developed for specialized applications or adaptations. An interdisciplinary group of researchers at the US Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory is trying to unlock the secrets that organisms use to build such complex structures so that power can be used to create materials not found in nature and not capable of being synthesized by conventional means.
30-Jun-2017 Ecological roots
Despite popular conceptions as an offshoot of the environmental movement, much of the field of ecology evolved to meet the needs of the federal government during the Atomic Age. The Department of Energy's national laboratories played a key role, from developing fundamental theories to computer models. The contributions from the institutions that became Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory still influence the field today.
22-Jun-2017 A single electron's tiny leap sets off 'molecular sunscreen' response
In experiments at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, scientists were able to see the first step of a process that protects a DNA building block called thymine from sun damage: When it's hit with ultraviolet light, a single electron jumps into a slightly higher orbit around the nucleus of a single oxygen atom.
20-Jun-2017 SLAC experiment is first to decipher atomic structure of an intact virus with an X-ray laser
An international team of scientists has for the first time used an X-ray free-electron laser to unravel the structure of an intact virus particle on the atomic level. The method dramatically reduces the amount of virus material required, while also allowing the investigations to be carried out several times faster than before. This opens up entirely new research opportunities.
In some of the coldest places in the world, scientists supported by the Department of Energy's Office of Science are studying how permafrost thaws. Using both field and laboratory data, these researchers are collaborating with modelers to improve our understanding of future climate change.
8-Jun-2017 Tackling infectious disease -- one protein at a time
A team of scientists in the Pacific Northwest has solved the 3-D structure of 1,000 proteins from more than 70 organisms that cause infectious disease in people. The proteins the team has studied come from microbes that cause several serious diseases, including tuberculosis, Listeria, Giardia, Ebola, anthrax, C. diff., Legionella, Lyme, chlamydia and the flu.
1-Jun-2017 SLAC X-ray beam helps uncover blueprint for Lassa virus vaccine
A team of scientists from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) has solved the structure of the viral machinery that Lassa virus uses to enter human cells. X-ray beams from the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL) at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory gave the team the final piece in a puzzle they sought to solve for over 10 years.
5-May-2017 Bacterial boost for bio-based fuels
"Electrical" bacteria are the key ingredient in a new process developed by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory that recycles wastewater from biofuel production to generate hydrogen. The hydrogen can then be used to convert bio-oil into higher grade liquid fuels such as gasoline or diesel.
5-May-2017 Brookhaven's John Shanklin named a Battelle 'Inventor of the Year'
John Shanklin, a biochemist investigating the fundamental processes that underlie the production of plant oils at the US Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory, is being honored as an "Inventor of the Year" by Battelle -- the global science and technology organization that, together with Stony Brook University, manages Brookhaven Lab through the company Brookhaven Science Associates.
4-May-2017 New effort by Argonne helps power utilities and others better plan for the future
If you're an electric utility planning a new power plant by a river, it would be nice to know what that river will look like 20 years down the road. Will it be so high that it might flood the new facility? Will the water be so low that it can't be used to cool the plant? A new initiative by Argonne combines climate data and analysis with infrastructure planning and decision support to offer real help.
7-Apr-2017 Scientists watch a molecule protect itself from radiation damage
When DNA is hit with ultraviolet light, it can lose excess energy from radiation by ejecting the core of a hydrogen atom -- a single proton -- to keep other chemical bonds in the system from breaking. To gain insight into this process, researchers used X-ray laser pulses from the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory to investigate how energy from light transforms a relatively simple molecule, 2-thiopyridone.
27-Feb-2017 New droplet-on-tape method assists biochemical research at X-ray lasers
Scientists at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and other institutes designed a new assembly-line system that rapidly replaces exposed biological samples by moving droplets along a miniature conveyor belt, timed to coincide with the arrival of the X-ray pulses. The droplet-on-tape system now allows the team to study the biochemical reactions in real-time from microseconds to seconds, revealing the stages of these complex reactions.
16-Feb-2017 Protein structure solved from smallest crystals yet
An international team of scientists used an X-ray laser at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory to determine the structure of an insect virus's crystalline protein 'cocoon.'
13-Jan-2017 Study of microbes reveals new insight about Earth's geology and carbon cycles
Tiny microbes play a big role in cycling carbon and other key elements through our air, water, soil and sediment. Researchers who study these processes at Argonne National Laboratory have discovered that these microbial communities are significantly affected by the types of carbon 'food' sources available. Their findings reveal that the type of carbon source affects not only the composition and activity of natural microbial communities, but also in turn the types of mineral products that form in their environment.
22-Dec-2016 For critical marine low clouds, a research and observation plan
Marine low clouds hover in the lowest couple of kilometers above the world's oceans. They produce little but drizzle, and could never match their deeper mid-continent cousin clouds for dramatic weather and severe storms. But marine low clouds are vastly important to the world's climate and energy balance.
Scientists have witnessed the birth of atmospheric ice clouds, creating ice cloud crystals in the laboratory and then taking images of the process through a microscope, essentially documenting the very first steps of cloud formation. The team took time-lapse movies of the first few seconds when a particle attracts water vapor, forming ice crystals that become the core of icy cirrus clouds - the high, wispy clouds that act much like a blanket for our planet.
15-Dec-2016 Data storage upgrades future-proof ARM field sites -- for now
Throughout 2016, Cory Stuart, ARM's Site Data System (SDS) and Cyber Security Manager, and his team at Argonne National Laboratory have been methodically visiting all ARM sites to upgrade the data systems, especially storage capacity.
The Department of Energy's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.