Today at Berkeley Lab

Light-Emitting Nanoparticles Could Provide Safer Way to Image Living Cells

A research team has demonstrated how light-emitting nanoparticles, developed at Berkeley Lab, can be used to see deep in living tissue. Researchers hope they can be made to attach to specific components of cells to serve in an advanced imaging system that can pinpoint even single cancer cells. More>

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Long-Sought Carbon Structure Joins Graphene, Fullerene Family

The discovery of buckyballs delighted chemists in the 1980s, nanotubes jazzed physicists in the 1990s, and graphene charged materials scientists in the 2000s, but one nanoscale carbon structure – a negatively curved surface called a schwarzite – has eluded everyone. Until now, thanks to work by Berend Smit. Schwarzites are predicted to have unique electrical and storage properties for use as battery electrodes and catalysts. More>

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Scientists Discover How to Protect Yeast From Damage in Biofuel Production

Some chemicals used to speed up the breakdown of plants for the production of biofuels are poison to the yeasts that turn the plant sugars into fuel. A group of researchers, including scientists from JBEI and Berkeley Lab, have identified two changes to a single gene that can make yeast tolerate the pretreatment chemicals. They published their findings recently in the journal Genetics. More>

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Algorithm Provides Early Warning for Tracking Groundwater Contamination

Haruko Wainwright and colleagues have devised a technique for low-cost, real-time monitoring of pollutants in groundwater using commonly available sensors and an algorithm known as a Kalman filter. They verified their system by tracking plumes of tritium and uranium-238 at the Savannah River Site. Their study was published recently in the journal, Environmental Science & Technology. More>

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Video Highlights ‘Smart Farm’ Consortium

Lab scientists, working with the University of Arkansas and Glennoe Farms, are bringing together molecular biology, biogeochemistry, environmental sensing technologies, and machine learning to help revolutionize agriculture and create sustainable farming practices that benefit both the environment and farms. Watch video here. More>

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Materials Project Connects Computational, Experimental Materials Science

Thomas Edison tested thousands of materials before discovering the right one for his electric lightbulb. Materials scientists today are only recently transitioning from the “Edisonian” way of discovery to data-driven “materials by design.” Using supercomputing, Materials Project researcher Shyam Dwaraknath and other Lab scientists are helping to bridge the gap from computer simulations to real-world applications. More>

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Tying Electrons Down With Nanoribbons

Scientists cut a strip of graphene – less than one ten-thousandth the width of a human hair – and found it had new properties. This strip, known as a nanoribbon, could be a potential alternative to silicon semiconductors. The researchers in this study are with the Lab’s Materials Sciences Division. More>

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Scientists ‘Squeeze’ Nanocrystals Into a Solid-Like State – Then Reverse the Process

A team led by scientists at Berkeley Lab found a way to make a liquid-like state behave more like a solid – then reverse it. A droplet of a liquid containing iron oxide nanocrystals, put into an oily liquid containing tiny polymer strands, results in a tiny tug of war on nanoparticles at the intersection of the liquids. More>

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Open and Shut: Pain Signals in Nerve Cells

Researchers collected X-ray data at the Advanced Light Source to define the structure of a closed protein gate important for neuronal signaling. This protein gate, ASIC1a, is important in sensing pain and forming memories of fear. Comparing the closed gate with previously known structures of the same gate when open, researchers now have a comprehensive picture of proton-dependent channels in neurons. More>

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A Designed Material Untangles Long-Standing Puzzle

The origin of the metal-to-insulator transition in a key quantum material was revealed by nanostructures designed to untangle simultaneous phase transitions. A key assist was provided by X-ray probes at the Advanced Light Source. This approach to decoupling simultaneous phase transitions could lead to new materials with emergent physics and unique electronic properties. More>

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