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.

September 7, 2017
Clay Minerals and Metal Oxides Change How Uranium Travels Through Sediments
Uranium mobility in the subsurface depends strongly on its oxidation state, with uranium(IV) being significantly less soluble than uranium(VI).
September 7, 2017
Tundra Loses Carbon with Rapid Permafrost Thaw
Seven years of experimental air and soil warming in tundra show that soil warming and permafrost thaw had a much stronger effect on carbon balance
August 31, 2017
Crystals Grow by Twisting, Aligning and Snapping Together
Scientists who study crystal formation and growth have long known that nanosize crystals suspended in a liquid medium often aggregate to form large
August 31, 2017
Vitamin B12 Fuels Microbial Growth
Vitamin B12 is used by all domains of life to control the production of DNA and a variety of proteins that support cellular function, but this
August 31, 2017
Carbon in Floodplain Unlikely to Cycle into the Atmosphere
Large amounts of carbon are stored in soils and terrestrial subsurface sediments, particularly in oxygen-limited environments such as wetlands and
August 31, 2017
Bacterial Cell Wall Changes Produce More Fatty Molecules
Microbial lipids are potential replacements for petroleum-based fuels and chemicals; however, their production often falls short of theoretical
August 29, 2017
Two for the Price of One: Exceeding 100 Percent Efficiency in Solar Fuel Production
In conventional semiconductor-based energy harvesting of photons from the sun, excess photon energy above the semiconductor bandgap is wasted.
August 29, 2017
The Tricky Trifecta of Solar Cells
Three-dimensional (3-D) organic–inorganic perovskites have emerged as one of the most promising thin-film solar cell materials owing to a
August 18, 2017
Avoiding Disruptions that Halt Fusion Reactions
The tokamak is an efficient design for confining superheated plasmas with magnetic fields because much of the magnetic field is produced by
August 18, 2017
Extreme-Scale Code Models Extremely Hot Plasma to Explain Spontaneous Transition
To achieve its goal, ITER’s core ion temperature must be around 15 keV, or over 10 times hotter than in the core of the sun. At the same time
August 18, 2017
A New Oxidation State for Plutonium
The researchers synthesized a Pu(III) starting material, PuCp”3 (Cp” = the substituted anionic cyclopentadienyl ring [C
August 18, 2017
A Traffic Cop for Molecules
Materials with rigid ultra small micropores provide selectivity that controls the motion of individual molecules to improve separation between
August 18, 2017
Creating a Molecular Super Sponge, from the Ground Up
The structure of NU-1301 represents a new three-dimensional net, named Northwestern University Net (nun), which has been added to the reticular
August 14, 2017
Physicists Move Closer to Listening In on Sub-Atomic Conversation
Much like two friendly neighbors getting together to chat over a cup of coffee, the minuscule particles in our subatomic world also come together
August 3, 2017
Making an Ultra-small Silicon “Chip”
Rational synthesis is the strategic choice of a sequence of chemical reactions leading to a desired chemical target. The application of rational
August 3, 2017
When Strontium is Away, Iridium Comes Out to Play
Water splitting, which generates hydrogen and oxygen gas, plays a key role in renewable energy technologies by producing molecules that can be used
August 3, 2017
How to Keep a Vital Diagnostic Isotope in Stock
Positron emission tomography (PET) typically relies on relatively short-lived positron emitters, i.e., radioisotopes that decay with the emission
July 21, 2017
Quantum Computing Building Blocks
Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology created a wholly suitable pathway for the large-scale production of quantum logic gates.
July 21, 2017
On Track towards a Zika Virus Vaccine
The research team from the Rockefeller University and Caltech, along with collaborators working in Pau da Lima, Brazil and Santa Maria Mixtequilla,
July 12, 2017
Seedlings Face Uphill Battle with Climate Change
Climate warming is expected to promote upslope shifts in forests. However, researchers working with common gardens sown with seeds collected from
July 12, 2017
Soils Could Release Much More Carbon than Expected as Climate Warms
Soil organic carbon harbors three times as much carbon as Earth’s atmosphere, more than half of that below the 20-centimeter (0.66-foot)
July 12, 2017
Scientists Program Yeast to Turn Plant Sugars into Biodiesel
The researchers used a mathematical model to identify the bottlenecks in the production of oil in the industrial yeast Yarrowia lipolytica
July 12, 2017
Weaving a Fermented Path to Nylons
Millions of tons of nylon is produced annually requiring harsh conditions. Manufacturing nylon involves making five- and six-member ring compound
July 12, 2017
Loosening of Lignocellulose: Switchgrass and Success in Sugar Release
The plant cell wall is primarily made up of three biopolymers: lignin, hemicellulose and cellulose. Lignin’s complex architecture provides
July 11, 2017
Unraveling the Molecular Complexity of Cellular Machines and Environmental Processes
As the highest performance mass spectrometry technique, the FTICR MS has become increasingly valuable in recent years for research applications.