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.

May 30, 2017
A Catalystic Shock
A Catalystic Shock
Researchers arranged common materials in a catalyst containing nano-spikes of carbon and nitrogen embedded with copper nanoparticles. When this
May 30, 2017
Reusable Sponge for Mitigating Oil Spills
Reusable Sponge for Mitigating Oil Spills
The Exxon Valdez, Deepwater Horizon, and other events highlight the devastating effects of uncontrolled releases of petroleum into oceans and other
May 30, 2017
Well-Aligned and  Densely Packed
Well-Aligned and Densely Packed
Inside an individual carbon nanotube, electrons, phonons and excitons can travel in only one dimension. This property enables the tube to have
May 26, 2017
Changing the Nature of  Optics in One Step
Changing the Nature of Optics in One Step
Scientists demonstrated a self-assembly approach to fabricating nanoscale metamaterials that are built on vertically aligned conducting metallic
May 26, 2017
Tricking Molecules into Creating New Nano-shapes
Tricking Molecules into Creating New Nano-shapes
Self-assembly is a powerful concept for making nanoscale structures where molecules are designed to spontaneously pack themselves into the desired
May 1, 2017
Casting a Wide Net
Casting a Wide Net
The various classes of chelators discovered and developed in the course of this fundamental research serve as tools that act, on the molecular
May 1, 2017
Finding the Correct  Path
Finding the Correct Path
Identifying the correct mechanism of a reaction can still be one of the toughest tasks facing chemists. For example, when designing a catalyst,
April 28, 2017
New Software Tools  Streamline DNA Sequence Design-and-Build Process
New Software Tools Streamline DNA Sequence Design-and-Build Process
The ability to design and manufacture synthetic DNA has opened tremendous possibilities in genomic research. In addition to providing access to
April 28, 2017
Getting the Ice Right  in Global Models
Getting the Ice Right in Global Models
Recent studies showed that the NASA Global Institute for Space Studies GCM produced upper tropospheric ice water contents that exceeded an
April 28, 2017
Unraveling the  Mysteries of Arctic Clouds
Unraveling the Mysteries of Arctic Clouds
Using observational data, scientists derived three-hour averages of surface infrared cloud radiative effect (CRE; a measure of cloud insulating
April 28, 2017
Groundwater Flow Is  Key for Modeling the Global Water Cycle
Groundwater Flow Is Key for Modeling the Global Water Cycle
Using integrated hydrologic simulations that couple vegetation and land energy processes with surface and subsurface hydrology, the researchers
April 27, 2017
Uncrowded Coils
Uncrowded Coils
The improvement in coil shapes was achieved by asking a somewhat different mathematical question compared to the question asked previously. In the
April 27, 2017
Fast Electrons and the  Seeds of Disruption
Fast Electrons and the Seeds of Disruption
Tokamak disruptions are large magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) instabilities that can occur, for example, if there is a rare and unforeseen failure in the
April 27, 2017
Plasma Turbulence  Generates Flow in Fusion Reactors
Plasma Turbulence Generates Flow in Fusion Reactors
New measurements and simulations of plasma rotation in DIII-D National Fusion Facility, a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science user facility
April 24, 2017
The Roadmap to Quark Soup
The Roadmap to Quark Soup
By tracking particles that emerge from nuclear collisions at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), a U.S. Department of Energy Office of
April 20, 2017
Deciphering Material Properties  at the Single-Atom Level
Deciphering Material Properties at the Single-Atom Level
The ability to correlate the 3D arrangements of atoms and defects with a material’s properties and functionality is vital in designing new
April 20, 2017
Smallest Transistor Ever
Smallest Transistor Ever
The next generation of microelectronics will only be realized by finding ways to continue to reduce the size of a transistor. Since the
April 20, 2017
Creation of Artificial Atoms
Creation of Artificial Atoms
Graphene’s remarkable electronic properties have fueled the vision of developing graphene-based devices to enable lighter, faster and smarter
April 20, 2017
Electronic  “Cyclones” at the Nanoscale
Electronic “Cyclones” at the Nanoscale
Recently, scientists discovered that in some magnetic materials, magnetic spirals, called skyrmions, could form on the material’s surface.
April 18, 2017
Developing Tools to Understand  Lithium-Ion Battery Instabilities
Developing Tools to Understand Lithium-Ion Battery Instabilities
This research has developed new techniques for in situ measurements of the growth of solid-electrolyte interphase (SEI) layers on silicon
March 13, 2017
Modeling the “Flicker” of Gluons in Subatomic Smashups
Modeling the “Flicker” of Gluons in Subatomic Smashups
Experimental results from RHIC and the LHC suggest that protons are much more complex than a simple arrangement of three quarks held together by
March 13, 2017
Rare Nickel Atom Has “Doubly  Magic” Structure
Rare Nickel Atom Has “Doubly Magic” Structure
Using the supercomputer Titan at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, scientists performed first-principles computations of the structure of 78
March 3, 2017
Earth’s Viral Diversity  Unveiled
Earth’s Viral Diversity Unveiled
Providing high-quality, publicly accessible sequence data goes hand-in-hand with developing and maintaining the databases and tools that the
March 3, 2017
Microbial Community  Interactions Drive Methane Consumption in Lakes
Microbial Community Interactions Drive Methane Consumption in Lakes
Several decades of research have demonstrated the importance of bacterial methanotrophs in carbon cycling processes of lakes, wetlands, and a
March 3, 2017
New CRISPR-Cas, Gene  Editing Systems, Discovered in Vast DNA Sequence Dataset
New CRISPR-Cas, Gene Editing Systems, Discovered in Vast DNA Sequence Dataset
Microbes heavily influence the planet’s cycles, but only a fraction have been identified. Characterizing the abundant but largely unknown