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.

November 22, 2016
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Greater than the Sum of Its Parts
One of the most infamous greenhouse gases is carbon dioxide. Because of the widespread awareness of the global warming effects of carbon dioxide, a
November 22, 2016
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Oxygen Takes Elitist Attitude to Sharing Electrons
The electrochemical reactions of oxygen gas are of great interest in many developing technologies such as solar energy conversion and energy
November 22, 2016
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A Natural Fondness for Plutonium
The threat of human exposure to synthetic radioactive elements, such as the actinides, has greatly increased over the last several decades, both
November 22, 2016
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Berkelium’s Unexpected Chemistry Has Been Captured
Scientists often use the Periodic Table to predict the properties of an element based on certain trends. For example, elements in the same column
November 22, 2016
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Improving Catalysis Science with Synchrotrons
X-ray synchrotron spectroscopy offers unique advantages over conventional materials characterization techniques, including higher detection
November 3, 2016
Natural Chemicals Transform Man-Made Particulates
Natural Chemicals Transform Man-Made Particulates
Secondary organic aerosols (SOA) are air pollutants implicated in serious health problems such as lung and heart disease. They are produced through
November 3, 2016
Scientists Rewrite Bacteria’s Genetic Code
Scientists Rewrite Bacteria’s Genetic Code
To construct a completely recoded Escherichia coli genome, the researchers first used computational tools to design a genomic sequence
November 1, 2016
Smaller Is Not Always Better for Radiation Resistance
It was believed that the nanocrystalline materials with more grain boundaries would always have enhanced radiation resistance. These grain
November 1, 2016
New Thin Membranes Can Self-repair Following Damage
Two-dimensional (2D) materials are of increasing interest for use in filtration, sensing, and nanoelectronics because of their unique properties.
September 9, 2016
Busted: Revealing Mismatches in MJO Modeling
Busted: Revealing Mismatches in MJO Modeling
The Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO) is the largest element of the intraseasonal (30–90 day) variability in the tropical atmosphere.
September 7, 2016
Making Sense of Failure in Light-Harvesting Semiconductors
Making Sense of Failure in Light-Harvesting Semiconductors
Artificial photosynthesis, which is the process of conversion of sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water into fuels, relies on chemically stable
September 7, 2016
Electrons Fingerprint the Fastest Laser Pulses
Electrons Fingerprint the Fastest Laser Pulses
When interrogating matter with a laser pulse, the duration of the pulse plays a major role in determining the information that can be acquired. In
September 1, 2016
How to Fix Blinking Light-Emitting Nanoparticles
Blinking, or fluorescence intermittency, limits the usefulness of silicon nanoparticles for optoelectronic applications. Scientists have proposed
September 1, 2016
Stretching a Metal into an Insulator
Stretching or compressing a material creates strain that can be a powerful tool to control oxygen vacancy concentration, as opposed to traditional
September 1, 2016
Inner Workings of Atomically Thin Transistors
The understanding of microscopic properties of atomically thin materials, such as molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), is of fundamental
August 26, 2016
Diverse Fungi Secrete Similar Suite of Decomposition Enzymes
Diverse Fungi Secrete Similar Suite of Decomposition Enzymes
Fungi secrete a diverse repertoire of enzymes that break down tenacious plant material. These powerful enzymes degrade plant cell wall components
August 26, 2016
New Math Captures Fluids in Unprecedented Detail
New Math Captures Fluids in Unprecedented Detail
Navier-Stokes equations, a set of equations that predict how fluids flow, are used everywhere from special effects in movies to industrial research
August 24, 2016
Defects, Electrons, and a Long-Standing Controversy
Defects, Electrons, and a Long-Standing Controversy
Departures from regularity—defects and imperfections—in materials are the key to their novel properties, and control over the type,
August 22, 2016
The Future of Coastal Flooding
Simulating tropical cyclone winds is challenging because they are sensitive to moist atmospheric processes such as cloud microphysics and
August 19, 2016
Improved Tests of the Weak Nuclear Force from Beta Decay
Improved Tests of the Weak Nuclear Force from Beta Decay
For the first time in over half a century, the search for a particular type of interaction, known as a tensor interaction, in nuclear beta decay
August 19, 2016
Breathable and Stretchable Protein Wafers
Breathable and Stretchable Protein Wafers
Two-dimensional (2D) crystalline materials possess unique structural, mechanical, and electronic properties that make them highly attractive in
August 19, 2016
Fast and Furious Bucket Brigade
Fast and Furious Bucket Brigade
Proton transport is important in biology and energy technology. Rapid proton transport is achieved through protons hopping along water molecules
August 17, 2016
Determining Real Molecules in Operating Batteries
Determining Real Molecules in Operating Batteries
For the first time, researchers led by the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research have directly observed structural and chemical information at
August 17, 2016
“High-Occupancy” Vehicle (HOV) Battery
“High-Occupancy” Vehicle (HOV) Battery
Batteries are composed of two electrodes, an anode (positive charge) and a cathode (negative charge), separated by an electrical insulator. As the
August 10, 2016
Sugar Hitches a Ride on Sea Spray
Scientists are interested in the composition of particles tossed into the atmosphere by sea spray, a large source of water vapor that helps to form