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.

January 11, 2019
Peering into the Mist: How Water Vapor Changes Metal at the Atomic Level
Scientists studied the effect of water vapor and elevated temperatures on a nickel-chromium alloy. They directly observed oxide growth on the alloy
January 11, 2019
Microbial Types May Prove Key to Gas Releases from Thawing Permafrost
Scientists collected soil samples from Stordalen Mire in northern Sweden, an Arctic peatland ecosystem that is undergoing permafrost thaw, to
January 11, 2019
New Method Knocks Out Yeast Genes with Single-Point Precision
Researchers developed a method called CRISPRCas9- and homology-directed-repair-assisted genome-scale engineering (CHAnGE) using libraries of
January 9, 2019
How Plants Regulate Sugar Deposition in Cell Walls
Mixed-linkage glucan (MLG) is an energy-rich polysaccharide found at high levels in some grass endosperm cell walls and at lower amounts in other
January 9, 2019
Scientists Identify Gene Cluster in Budding Yeasts with Major Implications for Renewable Energy
Despite the discovery of an iron-binding pigment known as pulcherrimin 65 years ago, the genes responsible for its biosynthesis remained
December 26, 2018
More Designer Peptides, More Possibilities
Scientists from the University of Washington, Stanford University, and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) created a computational
December 23, 2018
Deep Learning for Electron Microscopy
MENNDL, an artificial intelligence system, automatically designed an optimal deep learning network to extract structural information from raw
December 18, 2018
Clarifying Rates of Methylmercury Production
Mercury is a toxic element that occurs naturally and as an anthropogenic pollutant in the environment. The neurotoxin monomethylmercury (MMHg) is a
December 18, 2018
Small Particles Play Large Role in Tropical Thunderstorms
The biggest challenge in unraveling the effect of aerosols on clouds and climate is isolating their effects from changes due to other environmental
December 18, 2018
Drought Stress Changes Microbes Living at Sorghum’s Roots
Drought stress can greatly reduce the health and productivity of plants, including candidate bioenergy feedstocks such as sorghum. Microbial
December 12, 2018
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
December 12, 2018
How to Get Nuanced Details at the Top of the World
Researchers designed a novel strategy that exploits measurements obtained four ways: 1) electrical resistivity tomography to monitor soil
December 12, 2018
Ice Formed by Contact Freezing: Pressure Matters, Not Just Temperature
In the atmosphere, droplets of liquid water are frequently found at temperatures below the freezing point of water (0 degrees Celsius) down to
December 12, 2018
Future Loss of Arctic Sea-Ice Cover Could Contribute to the Substantial Decrease in California’s Rainfall
The dramatic Arctic sea-ice loss observed over the satellite era has intensified debate into whether these high-latitude changes are affecting
December 11, 2018
During Droughts, Bacteria Help Sorghum Continue Growing
Researchers from the University of California at Berkeley, University of California at Davis, Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department
December 6, 2018
The Biermann Battery Effect: Spontaneous Generation of Magnetic Fields and Their Severing
Magnetic reconnection occurs when oppositely directed magnetic fields are forced together in plasmas, which are excellent electrical conductors. A
December 6, 2018
Drawn into a Whirlpool: A New Way to Stop Dangerous Fast Electrons in a Fusion Device
Just like when pushing a playground swing, energy is only transferred from the electron beam to the whistler wave when the “pushing”
December 6, 2018
Subtlety and the Selective Art of Separating Lanthanides
Fundamental understanding of selective recognition and separation of lanthanide ions by chelating agents is of crucial importance for advancing
November 28, 2018
Quickly Capture Tiny Particles Reacting
Easily tuned nanometer-sized crystals that absorb and react with light with extreme sensitivity would aid both petrochemical and solar energy
November 28, 2018
Newly Discovered Bacteria Breaks Down Biomass
Using detailed information about the molecular biology of switchgrass and corn stover—both widely used to create biofuels—scientists
November 26, 2018
Review Examines the Science and Needs of Nitrogen-Based Transformations
Since 1913, ammonia has been produced via the Haber-Bosch process. The process transforms nitrogen gas into ammonia, which is packed into
November 26, 2018
New Technology Consistently Identifies Proteins from a Dozen Cells
Scientists at EMSL, the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, developed the nanoPOTS platform to minimize sample losses and expand the
November 26, 2018
Optimal Foraging: How Soil Microbes Adapt to Nutrient Constraints
A team of scientists set out to determine whether the theory of optimal foraging, which suggests any ecological community will adjust its
November 21, 2018
How a Bacterium Uses Multiple Enzymes to Degrade Plant Biomass
Lignocellulosic biomass represents nearly 90 percent of the dry weight of total plant biomass material and is composed of cellulose and lignin.
November 21, 2018
More Designer Peptides, More Possibilities
Scientists from the University of Washington, Stanford University, and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) created a computational