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.

June 20, 2016
New Understanding of One of Nature’s Best Biocatalysts for Biofuels Production
Lignocellulosic biomass is the largest source of organic matter on Earth, making it a promising renewable feedstock for producing biofuels and
June 20, 2016
Water Gunks Up Biofuels Production from Bio-Oils
Various catalysts can be used in the hydrodeoxygenation process, which removes oxygen-containing compounds or oxygenates, but the best catalysts
June 20, 2016
How Does Your Garden Grow? Study Identifies Instigators of Plant Growth
In this study, researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy BioEnergy Science Center at Oak Ridge National Laboratory identified key enzymes
June 20, 2016
Iron Supplements Help Microbes Working Together to Thrive When Oxygen Is Scarce
Coastal wetland and ocean sediment environments contain unique microbial communities capable of converting methane (CH4) to carbon
June 20, 2016
Heat-Loving Microbe Engineered to Produce Bioalcohols for Fuel
Researchers within the U.S. Department of Energy’s BioEnergy Science Center describe the metabolic engineering of the hyperthermophilic
June 20, 2016
Microbial Community Dynamics Dominate Greenhouse Gas Production in Thawing Permafrost
Understanding of microbial communities that can release greenhouse gases (GHGs) is limited, especially the specific nature of processes that affect
June 20, 2016
Work Together or Go It Alone? Microbes Are Split on the Answer
In an international study led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientists, an experimental evolutionary system was constructed that pairs a
June 20, 2016
A One-Pot Recipe for Making Jet Fuel
Biological production of chemicals and fuels using microbial transformation of sustainable carbon sources, such as pretreated and saccharified
June 10, 2016
Working Better Together: Two Materials Defining the Future of High-Speed Electronics
Towards the development of high-speed electronic devices that are usually constrained to conventional semiconductors, researchers led by Michigan
June 10, 2016
Keeping Cool with a Black Semiconductor
Black phosphorus is a natural layered semiconductor and is a promising candidate for electronic, optical, and optoelectronic applications.
June 9, 2016
Can We Beat Mother Nature at Materials Design?
In the natural world, many of the structural materials (wood, shells, bones, etc.) are hybrid materials made up of simple constituents that are
June 9, 2016
Surf’s Up: Magnetic Waves on the Edge
Electrons have two fundamental properties, charge and spin, generating such phenomena as electricity, magnetism, thermal conductivity, and
June 9, 2016
Bridge to Coveted Electronic Properties
A series of tabletop laser systems are being developed to bridge the materials characterization gap between conventional laser-based systems and
June 9, 2016
Taking on the Heat in Solar Cells: New Calculations Show Atomic Vibrations Hurt Efficiency
When sunlight is absorbed in a solar cell, negatively charged electrons and positively charged holes are created which in turn drive electrical
June 9, 2016
The Gold Standard of Cracking Tests
Corrosive environments, such as those found inside nuclear power plants and other sites, can cause stainless steel, brass, or other metallic alloys
June 9, 2016
Combining Electrons and Lasers to Create Designer Beams for Materials Research
After a material is excited, the first electronic motions are fundamental processes that enable transport of energy and information. Snapshots of
June 9, 2016
Simple Preparation for Affordable Solar Energy Storage
To understand the important interfaces in a solar cell connected to a water-splitting catalyst, researchers from Missouri University of Science
June 9, 2016
New Approach to Room-Temperature Materials Synthesis - Low Cost, Simple, and Controlled Composition
Researchers at the University of Michigan discovered a method for direct conversion, at room temperature, of copper selenide to copper silver
June 9, 2016
Modular Construction - on a Molecular Scale
Formation of a 3-dimensional (3D) porous, crystalline framework material—formed by spherical proteins that assemble via directed interactions
June 9, 2016
Nano-stiltskin: Turning Gold into … See-through Rubber
Next-generation flexible electronics require highly stretchable and transparent electrodes. Fatigue, structural damage due to repeated use, is
June 9, 2016
Towards Eco-friendly Industrial-Scale Hydrogen Production
Molecular hydrogen (H2) is an eco-friendly fuel because only waste water is produced when it is burned in combustion engines or used in
June 9, 2016
Understanding the Properties of High Tech Gels Used in 3-D Printing
When metal oxide nanoparticles are manufactured by reaction of gases at high temperature, they can form aggregates with complex geometric shapes.
June 9, 2016
Nano-Sculptures for Longer-Lasting Battery Electrodes
Some liquid metals have been observed to transform uniform solid alloys into complex structures–-a process that is not well understood. In
June 8, 2016
This Message Will Self-Destruct
Scientist have developed a novel “direct-write” additive lithographic technique that can be used to electronically pattern graphene
June 8, 2016
Laser Manipulates Electronic Properties
A new ultra-thin semiconducting material (tungsten disulfide or WS2) consists of three atomic layers in an “atomic sandwich”