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 19, 2019
Silicon and a State of Shock
In addition to being a key material in the semi-conductor industry, and one of the most studied materials at high pressure, silicon as a ceramic
February 19, 2019
Not All Ions in Tokamaks Go with the Flow
Scientists from the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory working on the DIII-D National Fusion Facility, in cooperation with scientists at General
February 17, 2019
New Model Sheds Light on Key Physics of Magnetic Islands that Can Halt Fusion Reactions
Magnetic islands can grow and thereby degrade and potentially disrupt the plasma confinement and damage the doughnut-shaped tokamak facilities that
February 17, 2019
High-Energy X-Ray Bursts from Low-Energy Plasma
Scientists observed a burst of X-rays from a laboratory plasma jet. This burst was unexpected because the plasma jet was relatively cold and thus
February 12, 2019
Pinnacle Engines Develops Efficient, Low-Emission Gasoline Engine Using Supercomputing
For over a decade, California-based small business Pinnacle Engines has developed opposed-piston engines for a range of small, single-cylinder
February 11, 2019
X-ray beam induces photo-ejection of an electron from (left) hydrogen and (right) helium.
Measuring the Impossible: X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy of Hydrogen and Helium
Two most abundant elements in the universe, hydrogen & helium, were previously thought to be impossible to measure by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy
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,