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 13, 2017
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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
October 23, 2017
Tree Mortality and Droughts: A Global Perspective
Tree Mortality and Droughts: A Global Perspective
About half of carbon dioxide emissions are absorbed by plants, but this service is threatened by the increasing frequency of hot droughts. One of
October 23, 2017
Plenty of Room at the Top: Breaking through the Sunlight-to-Electricity Conversion Limit
Plenty of Room at the Top: Breaking through the Sunlight-to-Electricity Conversion Limit
Hybrid organic-inorganic lead halide perovskites (HOIP) are promising new materials for use in low-cost solar cells. HOIPs have already been
October 23, 2017
Imperfections Show “Swimming”  Particles the Way to Self-Healing and Shape-Changing
Imperfections Show “Swimming” Particles the Way to Self-Healing and Shape-Changing
Bird flocks, fish schools and self-propelling fluid mixtures that cooperatively organize and move in response to internal or external cues are all
October 23, 2017
Bending the Laws of Thermodynamics for Enhanced Material Design
Bending the Laws of Thermodynamics for Enhanced Material Design
Structure and composition control the properties of materials. For semiconductors, the historically successful approach for such control has been
October 19, 2017
Designer Binders Protect Silicon Battery Electrodes
Designer Binders Protect Silicon Battery Electrodes
Lithium-ion batteries with silicon anodes have a theoretical capacity 10 times higher than the most commonly used anodes. However, silicon
October 19, 2017
Nanoribbons Enable “On–Off” Switch for Graphene
Nanoribbons Enable “On–Off” Switch for Graphene
A new way to grow narrow ribbons of graphene, a lightweight and strong structure made of a layer — just a single atom thick — of carbon
October 19, 2017
On-Demand 3-D Printing of Tiny Magic Wands
On-Demand 3-D Printing of Tiny Magic Wands
Structures on the scale of nanometers—much smaller than wavelengths of light—may improve transmission of plasmons, or small waves of
October 19, 2017
Watching Catalysts Evolve in 3-D
Watching Catalysts Evolve in 3-D
Because bimetallic catalysts are widely employed in batteries and fuel cells, a full understanding of their oxidation (electron loss) mechanisms is
October 19, 2017
Hybrid Material Glows Like Jellyfish
Hybrid Material Glows Like Jellyfish
Improving the efficiency of nanoscale energy transfer in quantum dot or quantum rod based systems requires the ability to fine tune variables
October 18, 2017
Tiny Tornados at the Dawn of the Universe
Tiny Tornados at the Dawn of the Universe
Up until now, the big story in characterizing the quark-gluon plasma is that it’s a hot fluid that expands explosively and flows easily. But
October 18, 2017
Heavy Quarks Probe the Early Universe
Heavy Quarks Probe the Early Universe
Quarks are the fundamental building blocks of matter and have family members with different masses. The up and down quarks, which make up neutrons
October 8, 2017
Discovering the Genetic Timekeepers in Bioenergy Crops
Discovering the Genetic Timekeepers in Bioenergy Crops
The timing of flowering is a key trait for biomass yield. A requirement for vernalization, the process by which prolonged cold exposure provides
October 8, 2017
New Technology Illuminates Microbial Dark Matter
New Technology Illuminates Microbial Dark Matter
There are more than 50,000 microbial genome sequences in the DOE JGI’s Integrated Microbial Genomes publicly accessible database, and many of