Science snapshots from Berkeley Lab

New Berkeley Lab breakthroughs: engineering chemical-producing microbes; watching enzyme reactions in real time; capturing the first image of ‘electron ice’; revealing how skyrmions really move

Cao receives Young Investigator Award from American Chemical Society

Pengfei Cao, a polymer chemist at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, has been chosen to receive a 2021 Young Investigator Award from the Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering Division of the American Chemical Society.

$1.9M NSF-funded initiative to transform UIC undergraduate chemistry offerings

Supported by a five-year, $1.9 million grant from the National Science Foundation, the University of Illinois Chicago department of chemistry will launch a project consisting of evidence-based research of teaching and learning practices, course and curriculum revisions and faculty development, all with the intention of enhancing STEM education for undergraduate students.

Wayne State researcher awarded $3.3 million from DOE to advance quantum science and technology

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced recently $73 million in funding to advance quantum information science research to aid in better understanding the physical world and harness nature to benefit people and society. Aaron Rury, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry in Wayne State’s College of Liberal Arts and Science, is the recipient of one of 29 projects funded by the DOE.

Department of Energy awards $4.15 million to Argonne to support collaborations with industry

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded $4.15 million to Argonne National Laboratory to support collaborations with industry aimed at commercializing promising energy technologies.

UCI scientists make X-ray vision-like camera to rapidly retrieve 3D images

Irvine, Calif., July 21, 2021 — It’s not exactly X-ray vision, but it’s close. In research published in the journal Optica, University of California, Irvine researchers describe a new type of camera technology that, when aimed at an object, can rapidly retrieve 3D images, displaying its chemical content down to the micrometer scale.

Main Attraction: Scientists Create World’s Thinnest Magnet

Scientists at Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley have created an ultrathin magnet that operates at room temperature. The ultrathin magnet could lead to new applications in computing and electronics – such as spintronic memory devices – and new tools for the study of quantum physics.

Bio-based coating for wood outperforms traditional synthetic options

Researchers have used lignin, a natural polymer abundant in wood and other plant sources, to create a safe, low-cost and high-performing coating for use in construction. The coating is non-toxic, hydrofobic, it retains wood’s breathability and natural roughness while being resistant to colour changes and abrasion.

Scientists obtain magnetic nanopowder for 6G technology

Material scientists have developed a fast method for producing epsilon iron oxide and demonstrated its promise for next-generation communications devices. Its outstanding magnetic properties make it one of the most coveted materials, such as for the upcoming 6G generation of communication devices and for durable magnetic recording. The work was published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry C, a journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Bio-inspired hydrogel protects the heart from post-op adhesions

A hydrogel that forms a barrier to keep heart tissue from adhering to surrounding tissue after surgery was developed and successfully tested in rodents by a team of University of California San Diego researchers. The team of engineers, scientists and physicians also conducted a pilot study on porcine hearts, with promising results.

They describe their work in the June 18, 2021 issue of Nature Communications.

Blavatnik Family Foundation, New York Academy of Sciences Name 31 Finalists for 2021 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists

The 2021 Blavatnik National Awards today named 31 finalists for the world’s largest unrestricted prize honoring early-career scientists. The finalists were culled from 298 nominations by 157 U.S. research institutions across 38 states. They have made trailblazing discoveries in wide-ranging fields, from the neuroscience of addiction to the development of gene-editing technologies, from designing next-generation battery storage to understanding the origins of photosynthesis, from making improvements in computer vision to pioneering new frontiers in polymer chemistry.

Capturing the Chemistry of Light-Activated Cancer Drugs with Ruomei Gao

Ruomei Gao—an associate professor at SUNY College at Old Westbury—has been using facilities at the Center for Functional Nanomaterials at Brookhaven Lab to investigate two primary processes of photosensitization for cancer therapy and prevention.

DOE scientists deploy creativity, speed to disrupt COVID-19

An ORNL-led team comprising researchers from multiple DOE national laboratories is using artificial intelligence and computational screening techniques – in combination with experimental validation – to identify and design five promising drug therapy approaches to target the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Key to Carbon-Free Cars? Look to the Stars

In a decade-long quest, scientists at Berkeley Lab, the University of Hawaii, and Florida International University uncover new clues to the origins of the universe – and land new chemistry for cleaner combustion engines

Are Heavy Metals Toxic? Scientists Find Surprising New Clues in Yeast

Scientists at Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley have compiled the most complete library yet of lanthanide heavy metals and their potential toxicity – by exposing baker’s yeast to lanthanides. Their findings could help researchers uncover hidden pathways between lanthanide metals and disease.

Scientists Discover New Approach to Stabilize Cathode Materials

UPTON, NY—A team of researchers led by chemists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory has studied an elusive property in cathode materials, called a valence gradient, to understand its effect on battery performance. The findings, published in Nature Communications, demonstrated that the valence gradient can serve as a new approach for stabilizing the structure of high-nickel-content cathodes against degradation and safety issues.

NUS researchers develop novel technique to automate production of pharmaceutical compounds

Giving a new spin to conventional chemical synthesis, a team of researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) has developed a way to automate the production of small molecules suitable for pharmaceutical use. The method can potentially be used for molecules that are typically produced via manual processes, thereby reducing the manpower required.

Surge in Nitrogen Has Turned Sargassum into the World’s Largest Harmful Algal Bloom

Scientists have discovered dramatic changes in the chemistry and composition of Sargassum, floating brown seaweed, transforming this vibrant living organism into a toxic “dead zone.” Results suggest that increased nitrogen availability from natural and anthropogenic sources, including sewage, is supporting blooms of Sargassum and turning a critical nursery habitat into harmful algal blooms with catastrophic impacts on coastal ecosystems, economies, and human health. Globally, harmful algal blooms are related to increased nutrient pollution.

Distinguished Electrochemist Marc Koper Receives the ECS Allen J. Bard Award in Electrochemical Science

The Electrochemical Society (ECS) honored Marc Koper, Professor of Surface Chemistry and Catalysis at Universiteit Leiden, Netherlands, with the 2021 ECS Allen J. Bard Award in Electrochemical Science. He will deliver his Award Address, “Electrochemistry of Platinum: New Views on an Old Problem,” at the 239th ECS Meeting with IMCS18. The address can be seen live online at 0900h EDT, Thursday, June 3, after which it will be available through June 26, 2021. There is no cost to participate, however pre-registration is required.

Cancer has ripple effect on distant tissues

A new study with zebrafish shows that a deadly form of skin cancer — melanoma — alters the metabolism of healthy tissues elsewhere in the body. The research from Washington University in St. Louis suggests that these other tissues could potentially be targeted to help treat cancer.“Tumors rely on a constant supply of nutrients to grow.

Clingy Copper Ions Contribute to Catalyst Slowdown

PNNL scientists, working with researchers at Washington State University and Tsinghua University, discovered a mechanism behind the decline in performance of an advanced copper-based catalyst. The team’s findings, featured on the cover of the journal ACS Catalysis, could aid the design of catalysts that work better and last longer during the NOx conversion process.