Laboratory Highlights

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February 28, 2019
Carbon and energy balances may prove to be a simplified way to predict microbial functions in soils that are often flooded and how such functions effect climate, soil health, and crop productivity.
A Simplified Way to Predict the Function of Microbial Communities
A pioneering study on how microbes work could advance models of frequently flooded soil’s elements and nutrients.
February 27, 2019
Root nodules, which allow some bacteria to fix nitrogen into soils for greater plant productivity, have a surprisingly complex metabolism, which could be optimized to develop more sustainable agriculture.
Unexpected Complexity: A 3D Look into Plant Root Relationships with Nitrogen-Fixing Bacteria
Scientists develop a molecular map of metabolic products of bacteria in root nodules to aid sustainable agriculture.
February 27, 2019
This map is an example from the global gridded data set that shows the spatial distribution of annual mean water withdrawal in six sectors.
How Much Water Does the World Use?
Global data set shows monthly water use by irrigation, manufacturing, and other uses, helping researchers to analyze water use by region and season.
February 26, 2019
Composite images of 16 radiographs of 11-week-old poplar seedling in sand (top). The intensity indicates water content (bottom).
Get to the Root: Tiny Poplar Roots Extract More Water than Their Larger Counterparts after Drought
Researchers link root water uptake to root traits and assess (poor) performance of common models.
February 26, 2019
The scientists used radiometers, shown here, to isolate the signal of methane’s greenhouse effect. Radiometers are among the many instruments at ARM’s Southern Great Plains observatory the team used as part of this study.
First Observation of Methane’s Increasing Greenhouse Effect at the Earth’s Surface
Predictions of the direct impacts of greenhouse gases must account for local temperature and humidity conditions.
February 25, 2019
In freshwater wetlands of the Great Lakes region, mercury accumulation in plants poses a significant human health concern. In a 2018 study, researchers showed the influence of wetland vegetation in regulating mercury toxicity in a Great Lakes estuary.
Why Toxic Methylmercury Production Increased in a Great Lakes Estuary
Research offers evidence that microbes and organic matter raise toxin levels, potentially helping improve mercury monitoring.
February 25, 2019
In areas with weak surface winds, additional evaporation from the ocean’s surface is a major energy source for driving tropical patterns that create rainfall.
Gust or Bust: Blustery Winds Important for Modeling Tropical Rainfall
Researchers find gusty winds increase surface evaporation that drives summer rainstorms in the Tropical West Pacific.
February 24, 2019
Phytoplankton: the foundation of the oceanic food chain.
Starving the Oceans
Nutrients increasingly moving to the deep ocean with strong climate warming could lead to drastic drops in surface ocean life and fishery yields.
February 21, 2019
Prototype fluidic system for zirconium-89 purification. Image taken through a hot cell window at the Department of Radiology, University of Washington.
Supplying High-Quality Cancer-Imaging Isotopes
New method produces high-purity zirconium-89, a diagnostic radionuclide used to image cancerous tumors.
February 19, 2019
A team working at the DIII-D National Fusion Facility discovered that external 3-D magnetic fields drive strong distortions in high-pressure plasmas that help suppress bursts of heat in fusion reactors.
Steady as She Goes
Scientists tame damaging edge instabilities in steady-state conditions required in a fusion reactor.
February 19, 2019
A new approach collects light emitted by plasma due to interaction with an injected neutral deuterium beam and transmits the light to spectrometers, by tuning the spectrometers to the rest wavelength of a visible deuterium spectral line.
Not All Ions in Tokamaks Go with the Flow
Spectroscopic measurements reveal that main ions flow much faster than impurities at the edge of fusion-relevant plasmas.
February 12, 2019
Adjacent computer-assisted design models of the Pinnacle Engines opposed-piston gasoline engine.
Pinnacle Engines Develops Efficient, Low-Emission Gasoline Engine Using Supercomputing
Researchers modeled design concepts for innovative, opposed-piston engine on Titan supercomputer.
February 11, 2019
X-ray beam induces photo-ejection of an electron from (left) hydrogen and (right) helium.
Measuring the Impossible: X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy of Hydrogen and Helium
Two most abundant elements in the universe, hydrogen & helium, were previously thought to be impossible to measure by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy
February 11, 2019
A scanning electron microscope image of a single-crystal diamond cantilever. This tiny device allows scientists to exert control over a quantum system (μm = micrometers).
Taking Diamond Qubits for a Spin
Scientists use implanted silicon ions & electricity to increase the spin time of quantum bits, moving closer to the tech needed for quantum networks.
February 11, 2019
New pictures of Photosystem II show different ways the protein complex shifts and stretches as it splits water. This image shows the water-oxidizing complex in the last stable state before the water splits.
Atomic Snapshots of Photosynthesis
Scientists catch details with atomic resolution, potentially helping design systems to use sunlight and water to produce fuels.
February 5, 2019
In water (red and white structures), the direct interaction between graphene (gray) and an ion (yellow) causes the ion to adsorb to the surface. The green and blue lines represent the reflected light pulses during ultraviolet spectroscopy.
The Subtle, but Significant, Role of Surfaces in Ion Stickiness
Direct interactions dominate ion adsorption to aqueous graphene, a process central to vital processes in energy technology.
February 4, 2019
Productivity of vegetation is linked to spatial position across the tundra landscape.
Controls on Nitrogen Nutrient Availability in the Arctic Tundra
Soil moisture is key to determining plant growth and nutrient cycling in complex tundra landscapes.
February 4, 2019
Computer model offers detailed view of water cycling and complex Earth system dynamics.
Coupling Computer Models Shows Interactions among River Water, Groundwater, and Land Surfaces
Computer model offers detailed view of water cycling and complex Earth system dynamics.
February 1, 2019
The Thwaites Ice Shelf in West Antarctica is one of the largest regional contributors to sea level rise.
Near-Term Ocean Warming Around Antarctica Affects Long-Term Rate of Sea Level Rise
Scientists investigate a threshold for rapid ice-sheet degradation in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.
February 1, 2019
Researchers studied molecular data on phages to discover how the viruses affect environmentally important bacteria in nature.
Viruses Must Overcome Challenges to Infect Bacteria in Nature
Molecular studies show phage-host interactions are more complicated than most laboratory studies suggest.
January 30, 2019
This event display shows the result of a muon neutrino candidate interacting inside the MicroBooNE detector at Fermilab. Cyan shows the energy deposited in electromagnetic shower-like topologies. Yellow shows energy deposited in other line-like topologies
MicroBooNE, Machine Learning, and Liquid Argon
The MicroBooNE experiment demonstrates the use of machine learning to interpret images made by a liquid-argon particle detector.
January 30, 2019
Neutrinos entering the MINERvA detector interact with the detector's atoms, generating new particles before fleeing the scene. The MINERvA experiment used a new investigative technique to better trace those fleeing neutrinos that kicked everything off.
CSI: Neutrinos Cast No Shadows
New crime scene investigation technique offers a hard look at the traces that particles leave before fleeing the scene.
January 30, 2019
The ArgoNeuT detector at Fermilab used liquid argon to detect mysterious particles called neutrinos.
ArgoNeuT Hits a Home Run with Measurements of Neutrinos in Liquid Argon
Scientists developed a method to better distinguish the tracks that particles leave behind in liquid argon.
January 22, 2019
Enhancing the electric field in a molecule can make it a better catalyst. Wrapping a gold-based catalyst (left, center) in a larger complex (blue) provides the catalyst with electric fields. The fields help the catalyst break key bonds (right, arrows).
Optimizing Electric Fields Yields Better Catalysts
A careful consideration of electric fields could lead to faster industrial processes that use less energy and release less waste.
January 21, 2019
Scientists have devised a spectroscopy method—based on soft X-ray second-harmonic generation—that probes buried graphene layers inside graphite.
New Probe for the Secrets of Complex Interfaces
Element-selective method reveals interfacial properties of materials used for water purification, catalysis, energy conversion, and more.