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.

February 11, 2019
Early “Fossils” Formed by Tectonics, not Life
Scientists re-evaluated evidence of life in 3.7-billion-year-old rock structures and found that the structures were of geological origin and not
February 11, 2019
Taking Diamond Qubits for a Spin
Solid-state quantum bits, or qubits, offer scalability in a quantum network. Such networks could change how computations are done and how data is
February 11, 2019
How Sunlight Energizes Electrons to Break Nitrogen and Form Ammonia
Ammonia in fertilizer is vital to growing crops. Producing ammonia for fertilizer is an energy-demanding process that requires natural gas to
February 11, 2019
Newly Discovered Design Rules Lead to Better Fuel Cell Catalyst
Creating efficient metal-air batteries, fuel cells, and other energy conversion and storage systems depends, in part, on how quickly oxygen
February 11, 2019
Atomic Snapshots of Photosynthesis
More than 2 billion years ago, tiny organisms on Earth started photosynthesizing. Nearly all life on Earth now depends on photosynthesis but it
February 10, 2019
Chemicals Can Change Their Identity, Thanks to the Liquids Where They Reside
Although solvents are carefully selected in some cases, the liquids are often simply considered a medium to allow the reactants to encounter each
February 10, 2019
How to Best Predict Chemical Reactions of Contaminants in Water
The availability of fresh water is a global issue that’s driving interest in ways to turn wastewater into clean water. Purifying wastewater
February 5, 2019
Hydrogels Change Water and Solute Dynamics
With potential uses ranging from wound dressings to energy storage devices, hydrogels are a promising material. Hydrogels consist of trapped water
February 5, 2019
Controlling Charge Flow by Managing Electron Holes
Detailed knowledge of real-time motion of charge in solar-cell materials could help scientists and engineers design better solar cells. Here,
February 5, 2019
The Subtle, but Significant, Role of Surfaces in Ion Stickiness
In many areas of science and technology, the adsorption of ions to aqueous interfaces plays a key role. For a long time, chemistry and physics
February 4, 2019
Controls on Nitrogen Nutrient Availability in the Arctic Tundra
In the Arctic, the amount of nitrogen available strongly influences plant productivity and distribution. In permafrost systems with patterned
February 4, 2019
Coupling Computer Models Shows Interactions among River Water, Groundwater, and Land Surfaces
The research community increasingly recognizes that rivers, despite their relatively small imprints on the landscape, play big roles in watershed
February 1, 2019
New Approach Gets Better View of Carbon Deeper Underground
The soils you find underfoot are typically 5 to 10 percent organic carbon. However, 3 feet and more below the surface, the organic carbon levels
February 1, 2019
Near-Term Ocean Warming Around Antarctica Affects Long-Term Rate of Sea Level Rise
The rapid change now underway on Thwaites Glacier, located in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, raises concern that a threshold for unstoppable
February 1, 2019
Viruses Must Overcome Challenges to Infect Bacteria in Nature
Building on previous research, scientists from The Ohio State University, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Environmental Molecular
January 30, 2019
MicroBooNE, Machine Learning, and Liquid Argon
Researchers on the MicroBooNE neutrino experiment at Fermilab designed a type of machine learning algorithm, convolutional neural networks, to
January 30, 2019
CSI: Neutrinos Cast No Shadows
Neutrinos usually sail through matter without bumping into it. But once in a while, it does shake hands with a nucleus, and sometimes the handshake
January 30, 2019
ArgoNeuT Hits a Home Run with Measurements of Neutrinos in Liquid Argon
All baseball fans know that probability is a huge component of their favorite sport. In baseball, each batter has a certain probability of hitting
January 22, 2019
Optimizing Electric Fields Yields Better Catalysts
In catalytic reactions, an electric field affects chemical bonds and, therefore, reaction mechanisms, rates, and selectivity. Electric fields,
January 22, 2019
Revealed: Structure of Proton in Liquid Water
Water is the universal solvent, important in biology, geology, and industrial processes. For some time, computational simulations suggested that
January 21, 2019
New Probe for the Secrets of Complex Interfaces
Understanding the detailed nature of complex interfaces has become a quest of profound significance, as it underlies urgently needed advances in
January 20, 2019
Community Matters When Using Algae to Produce Energy
The researchers observed mutualistic interactions between heterotrophic bacteria and two species of biofuels-relevant microalgae,
January 20, 2019
Uncovering the Microbial Food Web in Thawing Permafrost
Large amounts of soil carbon sequestered in permafrost are becoming available for microbial degradation as permafrost thaws. Its fate is unclear;
January 20, 2019
Getting To Know the Microbes that Drive Climate Change
Over the last two decades, scientists have learned a great deal about the impacts of ocean viruses on microbial mortality, carbon and nutrient
January 18, 2019
A Challenging Future for Tropical Forests
Tropical forests absorb a significant amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Tree death reverses this process by shutting off photosynthesis and