Science Highlights

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Each year, scientists with the Office of Science, at our national laboratories, and supported by the Office of Science at the nation’s colleges and universities, publish thousands of research findings in the scientific literature. About 200 of these are selected annually by their respective program areas in the Office of Science as publication highlights of special note.

For the archive of past publication highlights, click here.

March 8, 2019
Unique Interface and Unexpected Behavior Help Explain How Heavy Metals Act
Solvent extraction, the go-to technology for reprocessing nuclear waste or refining rare earths and precious metals, involves the preferential
March 4, 2019
To Grow or Not to Grow? That Is the Question for Plants
Regardless of what crops they are growing, farmers want to increase the yields and reduce the use of costly pesticides. Using less of such
March 4, 2019
Forming the Ion that Made the Universe
Scientists have figured out additional ways that the trihydrogen cation, H3+, the most abundant ion in the universe, is
March 1, 2019
Water: Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way
The association or dissociation of ion pairs in water is present in chemical reactions in fuel cells, batteries, and human cells. Scientists have
March 1, 2019
Seeing Coherent Patterns at the Microscopic Scale
In the world around us, it’s easy to see orders and patterns, such as the collective movement of a flock of birds. These patterns, or
March 1, 2019
Squeezed Quantum Dots Produce More Stable Light
Modern synthesis techniques produce nearly ideal quantum-dot light emitters, which are used in quantum-dot displays and TV sets. But what if a
March 1, 2019
Ions on the Edge
Although working with ionic solutions is common in synthesis, separations, and subsurface science, how the ions change their environment and, in
February 28, 2019
A Simplified Way to Predict the Function of Microbial Communities
To know how microbial activity varied in response to flooding, the team studied three types of organic matter that are commonly found in three
February 27, 2019
Unexpected Complexity: A 3D Look into Plant Root Relationships with Nitrogen-Fixing Bacteria
Previous studies led scientists to believe the distribution of bacterially derived metabolic by-products within the nodules was uniform. Scientists
February 27, 2019
Maximizing Ozone Signals
Working with simulated and observed surface ozone data within the United States covering a 25-year period, the researchers analyzed how the
February 27, 2019
How Much Water Does the World Use?
Information on human water use is often available only on large space and time scales. To better inform Earth system models and global hydrologic
February 26, 2019
Get to the Root: Tiny Poplar Roots Extract More Water than Their Larger Counterparts after Drought
Knowledge of plant root function under stress is largely based on indirect measurements of bulk soil water or nutrient extraction, which limits
February 26, 2019
First Observation of Methane’s Increasing Greenhouse Effect at the Earth’s Surface
While atmospheric methane concentrations plateaued between 1995 and 2006, they have since increased and are expected to impact the surface energy
February 26, 2019
Who Can Sort the Rain?
The team analyzed twelve disdrometer data sets (including four from the Department of Energy’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement user
February 25, 2019
Why Toxic Methylmercury Production Increased in a Great Lakes Estuary
In this study, the team used anoxic microcosms with sediments from nearshore areas of Lake Superior’s St. Louis River Estuary. The sediments
February 25, 2019
Gust or Bust: Blustery Winds Important for Modeling Tropical Rainfall
Earth system models struggle to represent some aspects of tropical circulations, leading to offsets from observations in tropical rainfall. In
February 24, 2019
Starving the Oceans
The primary pathway for nutrient-rich, deep ocean waters to return to the surface is in the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica, at the Antarctic
February 21, 2019
Supplying High-Quality Cancer-Imaging Isotopes
Ideal for cancer tumor imaging, zirconium-89 lasts long enough in the body to find tumors and be imaged using positron emission tomography (PET)
February 21, 2019
Do Alpha Particle Condensates Exist in Oxygen Nuclei?
The identification and the study of states analogous to the Hoyle state in heavier nuclei can provide a test for the existence of alpha condensates
February 19, 2019
Steady as She Goes
Fusion reactors need to run in a steady state and must reduce or eliminate ELMs, intense bursts of heat and particles that collide with the walls
February 19, 2019
Silicon and a State of Shock
In addition to being a key material in the semi-conductor industry, and one of the most studied materials at high pressure, silicon as a ceramic
February 19, 2019
Not All Ions in Tokamaks Go with the Flow
Scientists from the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory working on the DIII-D National Fusion Facility, in cooperation with scientists at General
February 17, 2019
New Model Sheds Light on Key Physics of Magnetic Islands that Can Halt Fusion Reactions
Magnetic islands can grow and thereby degrade and potentially disrupt the plasma confinement and damage the doughnut-shaped tokamak facilities that
February 17, 2019
High-Energy X-Ray Bursts from Low-Energy Plasma
Scientists observed a burst of X-rays from a laboratory plasma jet. This burst was unexpected because the plasma jet was relatively cold and thus
February 12, 2019
Pinnacle Engines Develops Efficient, Low-Emission Gasoline Engine Using Supercomputing
For over a decade, California-based small business Pinnacle Engines has developed opposed-piston engines for a range of small, single-cylinder