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 1, 2017
Ultrafast Imaging Reveals the Electron’s New Clothes
When an electron, which is negatively charged, travels through the atomic lattice, just like the attraction between opposite ends of a magnet, the
February 27, 2017
The Brown Rot Two-Step
Wood-decomposing fungi are essential players in breaking down plant biomass in forest ecosystems and could provide important clues on how to more
February 23, 2017
Controlling the Stiffness of a Material at the Nanoscale
When a material undergoes a phase change, its atomic structure is re-oriented, and many fundamental material properties can be altered including
February 17, 2017
Hydraulic Fluids Hospitable for Microbes
Hydraulic fracturing uses high-pressure injection of fresh water and chemical additives deep into the earth to generate extensive fractures in the
February 16, 2017
Unlocking Peptide Potential
Most drugs currently approved for humans are either large proteins or small molecules. Between these two size categories are peptides. Peptides are
February 16, 2017
Soil Will Absorb Less Atmospheric Carbon than Expected This Century
Soil is the largest terrestrial carbon reservoir and may influence the sign and magnitude of carbon cycle–climate feedbacks. Many Earth
February 16, 2017
Mighty Microbes Roil Oceans
Oxygen minimum zones are widespread areas in the ocean. In these zones, oxygen is depleted due to the metabolic activity of microbes. Rising
February 13, 2017
ARM Data Is for the Birds
The ARM Southern Great Plains site in Oklahoma is located in the “central flyway," one of the three main North American routes for seasonal
February 1, 2017
Chemistry for the Bottom of the Periodic Table
The distribution of indium and thallium between the aqueous and organic phases is the key to understanding the separation of these elements. An
February 1, 2017
First Light Shines in Instrument Designed to Solve the Neutrino Controversy
The KArlsruhe TRItium Neutrino mass (KATRIN) project can measure neutrino mass by a very careful determination of the electron spectrum emitted by
February 1, 2017
Unobservable No More
The transition state is where reactants become products in a chemical reaction. Defined as the highest energy point on the minimum energy path
February 1, 2017
One Small Change Makes Solar Cells More Efficient
In the quest to replace more traditional solar materials, such as silicon, with more efficient and high-performing options, scientists have been
February 1, 2017
Ultrafast Molecular Manipulations
New capabilities at x-ray free-electron lasers (XFELs), such as the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory,
January 27, 2017
Meeting the Challenge of Diagnostics for Super-Hot Plasmas in Fusion Reactors
Controlled thermonuclear fusion is the process of fusing light elements into heavier elements to release energy for non-weapons applications.
January 27, 2017
High-Energy Electrons Probe Ultrafast Atomic Motion
The interactions of electrons and the atoms they reside in are important for a range of phenomena, from fundamental electron and spin transport, to
January 26, 2017
Keep ’Em Separated
Second-generation bioethanol is derived from cellulose-based feedstocks. Production of such bioethanol is expected to grow significantly worldwide
January 26, 2017
Creating Bionic Enzymes
Enzymes that contain metal ions—that is, metalloenzymes—possess the reactivity of a transition metal center and the molecular evolution
January 26, 2017
More Steps, Faster Results
For semi-rigid molecules at low energies, the well-established normal mode approximation gives a basic understanding of molecular vibrations and
January 26, 2017
Pure as the Driven X-Ray
Modern x-ray free-electron lasers use high-energy electrons to produce intense x-ray pulses to study the structure and behavior of matter. However,
January 23, 2017
Supercomputers for Quantum Computers
One of the leading methods for creating qubits involves exploiting specific structural atomic defects in diamonds. Using diamonds is both
January 23, 2017
Bacteria’s Secret Weapon
Microbes such as fungi and bacteria produce enzymes, called glycoside hydrolases, to acquire nutrients through the degradation of cellulose&mdash
January 23, 2017
Methylmercury Sleuths Armed with New Spotlight
Two genes, hgcA and hgcB, are essential for microbial mercury methylation. Detecting and estimating their abundance in microbes
January 23, 2017
A New World Discovered Underground
The subterranean world hosts up to one fifth of all biomass, including microbial communities that drive transformations central to Earth’s
January 23, 2017
Extending the Life of Lithium-Ion Batteries
Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are common in portable electronics and in today’s plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. One of the most
January 9, 2017
Seashell Formation Provides Understanding of Historic Oceanographic Conditions
Foraminifera are a group of marine protozoans with a fossil record that extends back to the earliest Cambrian period, offering one of the most