SLAC and Stanford scientists home in on pairs of atoms that boost a catalyst’s activity

A study identified which pairs of atoms in a catalyst nanoparticle are most active in a reaction that breaks down a harmful exhaust gas in catalytic converters. The results are a step toward engineering cheaper, more efficient catalysts.

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Scientists marry two powerful techniques to pinpoint locations of individual molecules in their cellular neighborhoods

Developed in the lab of Stanford University Nobelist W.E. Moerner, the technique combines cryoelectron tomography and low temperature single-molecule microscopy. It has potential to answer fundamental questions about the molecular machinery of viruses, parasites, and processes like photosynthesis.

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In a step forward for orbitronics, scientists break the link between a quantum material’s spin and orbital states

Until now, electron spins and orbitals were thought to go hand in hand in a class of materials that’s the cornerstone of modern information technology; you couldn’t quickly change one without changing the other. This study raises the possibility of controlling them separately.

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First direct look at how light excites electrons to kick off a chemical reaction

The first step in many light-driven chemical reactions, like the ones that power photosynthesis and human vision, is a shift in the arrangement of a molecule’s electrons as they absorb the light’s energy. Now scientists have directly observed this first step.

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A new way to fine-tune exotic materials: Thin, stretch and clamp

Turning a brittle oxide into a flexible membrane and stretching it on a tiny apparatus flipped it from a conducting to an insulating state and changed its magnetic properties. The technique can be used to study and design a broad range of materials for use in things like sensors and detectors.

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