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.

December 4, 2017
How Grasslands Regulate Their Productivity in Response to Droughts
How Grasslands Regulate Their Productivity in Response to Droughts
Plants open and close stomata (tiny openings on plant leaves) to balance carbon dioxide uptake and water losses, while avoiding desiccation of
December 4, 2017
Building Confidence in Hydrologic Models
Building Confidence in Hydrologic Models
Following up on a first integrated hydrologic model intercomparison project several years ago, seven teams of modelers, including two teams
December 1, 2017
El Niño and Liquid Water Clouds Contribute to Antarctic Melt in 2015-2016
El Niño and Liquid Water Clouds Contribute to Antarctic Melt in 2015-2016
A large-scale and prolonged surface melt event occurred in January 2016 over the Ross Ice Shelf region of West Antarctica. Analysis of passive
November 29, 2017
Making Polymer Chemistry Click
Making Polymer Chemistry Click
Users from the Scripps Research Institute, including 2001 Nobel Prize laureate K. Barry Sharpless, teamed with scientists at the Molecular Foundry
November 24, 2017
Photosynthesis without Cells: Turning Light into Fuel
Photosynthesis without Cells: Turning Light into Fuel
At Argonne National Laboratory’s Center for Nanoscale Materials, a U.S. Department of Energy user facility, researchers employed artificial
November 24, 2017
A Molecular Zipper for Efficient Gas Separation
A Molecular Zipper for Efficient Gas Separation
Efficient adsorption-based gas separation requires maximizing both the adsorbent’s selectivity for the gas of interest and its recyclability
November 21, 2017
Craters on Graphene: Electrons Impact
Craters on Graphene: Electrons Impact
Normally, electrons moving in a conductor are reflected by potential energy barriers. However, electrons moving in graphene travel at relativistic
November 14, 2017
Stover_Jastrow_Alaskan soil carbon stocks
The Challenge of Estimating Alaska’s Soil Carbon Stocks
Representing land surface spatial heterogeneity is a scientific challenge that is critical for designing observation schemes to reliably estimate
November 14, 2017
Bayer_Yang_Unplugging the Cellulose Bottleneck
Unplugging the Cellulose Biofuel Bottleneck
A molecular-level understanding of the resistance of cellulose to degradation is a key step toward overcoming the fundamental barrier to making
November 14, 2017
_Bayer_O’Malley_Unlocking the Potential of Fungal
How Fungal Enzymes Break Down Plant Cell Walls
Gut microbes play a major role in helping ruminants such as cows, goats, and sheep break down lignocellulose-rich plant matter in their diet.
November 14, 2017
Powell_Clemson_Fitzsimmons
Moving from Protecting Health to Protecting the Environment
Existing techniques for understanding radionuclide transport in the environment do not fully capture the 3-D complexity of transport in soil and
November 14, 2017
Javey-LBNL_Kortan
Stretching to Perfection of 2-D Semiconductors
The electronic and optical properties of materials are directly related to their atomic crystal structure. By bringing atoms closer to each other
November 14, 2017
Awschalom_ANL-UCh_Kortan
Simple is Beautiful in Quantum Computing
Classical computers are number crunching machines, performing basic arithmetical operations on numbers. In computer language, these numbers are
November 13, 2017
Lee_UVA_Thiyaga_2017
Twisting Molecule Wrings More Power from Solar Cells
Upon exposure to sunlight, electrons in a semiconducting material are excited from their normal to higher energy states, forming photo-excited
November 13, 2017
 Shifts in Biomass and Productivity
The Effect of Hurricanes on Puerto Rico’s Dry Forests
While there is evidence that hurricane intensity has been increasing in the Atlantic Basin over the past 30 years, the research shows that the long
November 13, 2017
Monoterpene ‘Themometer’ of Tropical Forest
A Chemical Thermometer for Tropical Forests
Tropical forests are increasingly threatened by increased temperatures that can lead to oxidative stress, but the physiological mechanisms plants
November 13, 2017
Long term decomposition
Where a Leaf Lands and Lies Influences Carbon Levels in Soil for Years to Come
A team led by scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that the type of plant inputs (that is, root or needle litter) affected
October 31, 2017
Rules Are Only Suggestions in Heavy Elements
Rules Are Only Suggestions in Heavy Elements
The synthesis and characterization of two berkelium compounds creates rare opportunities to probe the electronic structure of some of the last
October 31, 2017
Let There Be (White) Light: New Materials Shine Out
Let There Be (White) Light: New Materials Shine Out
White-light–emitting 2-D perovskites are attractive because of their low cost and tunability. Using different lengths of di-functional
October 31, 2017
Exotic Nucleus Exhibits Curious Shape
Exotic Nucleus Exhibits Curious Shape
The research team devised a new way to study the shape of atomic nuclei using a particle accelerator and pure electromagnetic interactions. At
October 26, 2017
Mission Not So Impossible Now: Control Complex Molecular Organization
Mission Not So Impossible Now: Control Complex Molecular Organization
Traditional methods using “top-down” solution-based processing typically only allow modest control over the molecular organization and
October 26, 2017
Honey, I Shrunk the Features for Low-Cost, Flexible, Large-Area Electronics
Honey, I Shrunk the Features for Low-Cost, Flexible, Large-Area Electronics
A team of scientists at the University of California, Davis, studying the effects of chemical dopants on the solubility of semiconducting polymers
October 25, 2017
Flavins Perform Electron Magic
Flavins Perform Electron Magic
There are currently only three known ways that living things can capture energy from their environment to enable life to exist. The most recently
October 25, 2017
Spin-Polarized Surface States in Superconductors
Spin-Polarized Surface States in Superconductors
Given their considerable application potential, from quantum computing to information technologies, noncentrosymmetric (NCS) superconductors have
October 25, 2017
Imaging Probe Printed onto Tip of Optical Fiber
Imaging Probe Printed onto Tip of Optical Fiber
Nano-optics have the potential to be used for imaging, sensing, and spectroscopy, and could help scientists improve solar cells, design better