Latest Berkeley Lab Stories

2010-07-07 07:21:23

Powerful new microscopes able to resolve DNA molecules with visible light, superfast computers that use light rather than electronic signals to process information, and Harry Potteresque invisibility cloaks are just some of the many thrilling promises of transformation optics. In this burgeoning field of science, light waves can be controlled at all lengths of scale through the unique structuring of metamaterials, composites typically made from metals and dielectrics "“ insulators that...

2010-06-29 07:41:15

When it comes to metal catalysts, the platinum standard is, well, platinum! However, at about $2,000 an ounce, platinum is more expensive than gold. The high cost of the raw material presents major challenges for the future wide scale use of platinum in fuel cells. Research at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) suggests that one possible way to meet these challenges is to think small "“ really small. A study led by Gabor Somorjai...

2010-05-31 07:32:46

Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC), Berkeley, have successfully attached imaging probes to glycans "“ the sugar molecules that are abundant on the surfaces of living cells "“ in the embryos of zebrafish less than seven hours after fertilization. Glycans are key regulators of the processes that guide cell development, and zebrafish are a top vertebrate model organism of...

2010-05-28 08:40:00

Jeffrey Long's lab will soon host a round-the-clock, robotically choreographed hunt for carbon-hungry materials. The Berkeley Lab chemist leads a diverse team of scientists whose goal is to quickly discover materials that can efficiently strip carbon dioxide from a power plant's exhaust, before it leaves the smokestack and contributes to climate change. They're betting on a recently discovered class of materials called metal-organic frameworks that boast a record-shattering internal surface...

2010-05-11 07:40:45

The future of clean green solar power may well hinge on scientists being able to unravel the mysteries of photosynthesis, the process by which green plants convert sunlight into electrochemical energy. To this end, researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC), Berkeley have recorded  the first observation and characterization of a critical physical phenomenon behind photosynthesis known...

2010-05-01 09:01:50

Hydrogen would command a key role in future renewable energy technologies, experts agree, if a relatively cheap, efficient and carbon-neutral means of producing it can be developed. An important step towards this elusive goal has been taken by a team of researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California, Berkeley. The team has discovered an inexpensive metal catalyst that can effectively generate...

2010-04-21 08:35:06

Atomic force microscopy, a tactile-based probe technique, provides a three-dimensional nanoscale image of a material by gliding a needle-like arm across the material's surface. The core of AFM imaging workhorse is a cantilever with a sharp tip that deflects as it encounters undulations across a surface.  Due to a minimum force required for imaging, conventional AFM cantilevers can  deform or even tear apart living cells and other biological materials. While scientists have made...

2010-04-15 08:10:00

Two-dimensional, "sheet-like" nanostructures are commonly employed in biological systems such as cell membranes, and their unique properties have inspired interest in materials such as graphene. Now, Berkeley Lab scientists have made the largest two-dimensional polymer crystal self-assembled in water to date. This entirely new material mirrors the structural complexity of biological systems with the durable architecture needed for membranes or integration into functional devices. These...

2010-04-08 13:58:42

Graphene, the two-dimensional crystalline form of carbon, is a potential superstar for the electronics industry. With freakishly mobile electrons that can blaze through the material at nearly the speed of light "“ 100 times faster than electrons can move through silicon "“ graphene could be used to make superfast transistors or computer memory chips. Graphene's unique "chicken wire" atomic structure exhibits incredible flexibility and mechanical strength, as well as unusual...

2010-03-31 10:09:36

A newly discovered path for the conversion of sunlight to electricity could brighten the future for photovoltaic technology. Researchers with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have found a new mechanism by which the photovoltaic effect can take place in semiconductor thin-films. This new route to energy production overcomes the bandgap voltage limitation that continues to plague conventional solid-state solar cells. Working with bismuth ferrite, a ceramic made from bismuth,...

Word of the Day
  • The unit of magnetic flux density in the International System of Units, equal to the magnitude of the magnetic field vector necessary to produce a force of one newton on a charge of one coulomb moving perpendicular to the direction of the magnetic field vector with a velocity of one meter per second. It is equivalent to one weber per square meter.
This word is named for Nikola Tesla, the inventor, engineer, and futurist.