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 9, 2016
Taking on the Heat in Solar Cells: New Calculations Show Atomic Vibrations Hurt Efficiency
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 9, 2016
Can We Beat Mother Nature at Materials Design?
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
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 8, 2016
This Message Will Self-Destruct
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
Laser Manipulates Electronic Properties
A new ultra-thin semiconducting material (tungsten disulfide or WS2) consists of three atomic layers in an “atomic sandwich”
June 8, 2016
Patterning Smaller Junctions for Ultrathin Devices
Patterning Smaller Junctions for Ultrathin Devices
Junctions of two-dimensional (2D) semiconductors could enable next-generation photovoltaics, lighting, and electronics. For example, current
June 8, 2016
Keep it Simple: Low-Cost Solar Power
Keep it Simple: Low-Cost Solar Power
In this simplified architecture, sunlight passes through the top layer (metal oxide) and creates electron-hole pairs in the silicon. The holes are
June 8, 2016
Hydrogen Production from a Relative of Fool’s Gold
Hydrogen Production from a Relative of Fool’s Gold
Scientists discovered that a close relative of a well-known iron-based mineral called fool’s gold (iron pyrite, FeS2) is an
June 7, 2016
Tiny Droplets… Lead to Exotic Properties
Tiny Droplets… Lead to Exotic Properties
Biology uses stress, defects, molecular configuration (for example, handedness), and hierarchical design strategies to assemble and/or create a
June 7, 2016
World’s Most Efficient Nanowire Lasers
World’s Most Efficient Nanowire Lasers
Semiconductor nanowire lasers, due to their ultra-compact physical sizes, highly localized coherent output, and efficiency, are promising
June 7, 2016
Saturday Night at the Movies: 3D Sneak Preview of Dancing Platinum Particles at Atomic Resolution
Saturday Night at the Movies: 3D Sneak Preview of Dancing Platinum Particles at Atomic Resolution
Understanding the synthesis, growth, and physical properties of nanoparticles is important for the development of next-generation materials. This
June 7, 2016
Growing Graphene Ribbons in One Direction
Growing Graphene Ribbons in One Direction
Graphene nanoribbons are predicted to transport electricity and dissipate heat more efficiently than traditional electronic materials such as
June 7, 2016
Atomic Sculpting with a Microscope
Atomic Sculpting with a Microscope
3D printing has revolutionized the way we can make and design materials. Now a team led by scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory has added
June 7, 2016
Finding a Needle in a Crystalline Haystack
Finding a Needle in a Crystalline Haystack
Conventional transmission electron microscopy and metallography techniques survey a limited amount of material in samples. Consequently, these
June 7, 2016
New See-Through Material for Electronics
New See-Through Material for Electronics
Numerous applications from flat panel displays to solar cells require high-performance transparent conducting oxides. Commercial applications
June 6, 2016
Bacteria Hairs Make Excellent Electrical Wires
Bacteria Hairs Make Excellent Electrical Wires
Direct measurement of multiple physical properties of Geobacter sulfurreducens pili have demonstrated that they possess metallic-like