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.

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
November 9, 2018
Microbes Eat the Same in Labs and the Desert
Scientists can determine the structure and metabolic potential of microbial communities by established metagenomic approaches. However, linking
November 9, 2018
Diverse Biofeedstocks Have High Ethanol Yields and Offer Biorefineries Flexibility
Refineries to convert biomass into fuels often rely on just one feedstock. If the refineries could accept more than one feedstock, it would greatly
November 7, 2018
Opening Access to Explore the Synthetic Chemistry of Neptunium
Neptunium metal is extremely scarce, limiting its use as an entry route into molecular chemical studies. In contrast, aqueous acidic stock
November 7, 2018
Tiny Titanium Barrier Halts Big Problem in Fuel-Producing Solar Cells
Green leafy plants readily convert sunlight into energy-dense fuels. Conventional solar cells don’t. Why not? A key reaction, splitting water
November 7, 2018
Turning Wood Scraps into Tape
Scientists developed a new and robust process that converts components of lignocellulosic biomass into high-performance high-value PSAs that have
November 7, 2018
Very Heavy Elements Deliver More Electrons
When forming bonds with oxygen or participating in reactions involving oxygen atom transfer, the early actinide elements, protactinium through
November 7, 2018
Probing Water’s “No-Man’s Land” Temperature Region
While scientists have studied water for a long time, there’s still much that they don’t know. A particularly interesting aspect is
November 6, 2018
Novel Soil Bacteria with Unusual Genes Synthesize Unique Antibiotic Precursors
As part of a study on carbon cycling in soils, researchers deeply sequenced 60 soil metagenomes across a single grassland meadow at the Angelo
October 31, 2018
Warmer Temperatures Lengthen Growing Season, Increase Plants’ Vulnerability to Frost
The SPRUCE experiment is applying warming (0 to +9 degrees Celsius above ambient) and carbon dioxide (ambient and elevated) treatments to
October 29, 2018
How Plant Cells Decide When to Make Oil
This study builds on the team’s previous research, which established clear links between a protein complex that senses sugar levels in plant
October 17, 2018
Cryocooler Cools an Accelerator Cavity
All SRF particle accelerators to-date use liquid helium to maintain the extremely cold temperatures necessary for sustaining superconductivity.
October 17, 2018
Shining Light on the Separation of Rare Earth Metals
Rare earth element-containing materials are irreplaceable and used widely in technologies such as lighting, displays, biological sensors, lasers,
October 17, 2018
How to Make Soot and Stardust
The chemical reactions behind soot particle formation have long been a mystery. The reactions, which turn gaseous hydrocarbons into a solid that
October 16, 2018
Placing Atoms for Optimum Catalysts
The team began with a flat piece of ruthenium metal. On top of the metal, they grew graphene, which is a one-atom-thick layer of carbon. In this
September 15, 2018
Breaking the Symmetry Between Fundamental Forces
At present, scientists think that at the highest energies and earliest moments in time, all the fundamental forces may have existed as a single
September 15, 2018
Water Plays Unexpected Role in Forming Minerals
Knowing how minerals form is vital for subsurface energy extraction and waste storage, creating tailored catalysts, and more. Minerals can form via