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.

April 23, 2018
A Game Changer: Protein Clustering Powered by Supercomputers
A Game Changer: Protein Clustering Powered by Supercomputers
Given an arbitrary graph or network, it is difficult to know the most efficient way to visit all of the nodes and links. A random walk gets a sense
April 11, 2018
Getting Magnesium Ions to Pick Up the Pace
Getting Magnesium Ions to Pick Up the Pace
The remarkable mobility of lithium ions in solids has been a key factor in the development of commercial lithium-ion batteries. A generally
April 11, 2018
Seeing How Next-Generation Batteries Power-Up
Seeing How Next-Generation Batteries Power-Up
Batteries based on magnesium metal as the negative electrode (anode) promise much higher energy density compared to lithium-ion systems and are, at
April 11, 2018
Worm-Inspired Tough Materials
Worm-Inspired Tough Materials
Mechanical gradients are often employed in nature to prevent damage from large forces by creating a smooth transition from strong to weak
April 9, 2018
How to Turn Light Into Atomic Vibrations
How to Turn Light Into Atomic Vibrations
Light could induce desirable structural changes in thin sheets of materials. These materials could have applications ranging from data storage
April 6, 2018
Scientists demonstrated that powerful acids heal certain structural defects in synthetic films.
Superacids Are Good Medicine for Super Thin Semiconductors
The atomically thin nature of layered 2-D semiconductors gives rise to a gamut of unique physical properties, which often do not exist in
April 6, 2018
Tubular Science Improves Polymer Solar Cells
Tubular Science Improves Polymer Solar Cells
Low-cost, large-area scalability by solution processing is an important advantage of organic polymer solar cells. Typical organic solar cells,
April 6, 2018
Fast! Hard X-Ray Flash Breaks Speed Record
Fast! Hard X-Ray Flash Breaks Speed Record
To capture the fast motions of electrons that govern many chemical processes, x-ray pulses in the attosecond range are required. Two methods have
March 26, 2018
Rewriting Resistance: Genetic Changes Increase Crops’ Biomass and Sugar Release
Rewriting Resistance: Genetic Changes Increase Crops’ Biomass and Sugar Release
Scientists at the BioEnergy Science Center used targeted engineering of plant cell wall polymers to genetically modify switchgrass and poplar,
March 26, 2018
Measuring the Glow of Plants from Below
Measuring the Glow of Plants from Below
Quantifying gross primary production (GPP) remains a major challenge in global carbon cycle research. Space-borne monitoring of solar-induced
March 26, 2018
Scientists Have Overestimated Meteor Sizes
Scientists Have Overestimated Meteor Sizes
Using the high brightness, short-pulse X-ray free-electron laser at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, the team measured the speed at which
March 20, 2018
Small Poke—Huge Unexpected Response
Small Poke—Huge Unexpected Response
Weyl fermions are novel particles that were predicted to be seen in high-energy physics experiments but have not been observed. However, scientists
March 19, 2018
Scaling Plant Traits Stymied by Uncertainty in Measured Global Photosynthesis
Scaling Plant Traits Stymied by Uncertainty in Measured Global Photosynthesis
An international team of researchers investigated the impact of four trait-scaling hypotheses (plant functional type, nutrient limitation,
March 19, 2018
Turning Up the Heat on Remote Research Plots Without Electricity
Turning Up the Heat on Remote Research Plots Without Electricity
The zero power warming chamber requires no electrical power for fully autonomous operation. It uses a novel system of internal and external heat
March 19, 2018
Engineering Yeast Tolerance to a Promising Biomass Deconstruction Solvent
Engineering Yeast Tolerance to a Promising Biomass Deconstruction Solvent
Biomass deconstruction using the solvent GVL has several advantages over more traditional deconstruction methods; however, biological conversion to
March 19, 2018
Saplings Survive Droughts via Storage
Saplings Survive Droughts via Storage
To test the ability of different species of tropical tree saplings to avoid dehydration during severe droughts, scientists subjected potted
March 14, 2018
Predicting a New Phase of Superionic Ice
Predicting a New Phase of Superionic Ice
Possibly residing on ice-rich planets in our solar system and beyond, superionic ice is an exotic type of ice that exists at high temperature and
March 14, 2018
Unlocking On-Package Memory’s Effects on High-Performance Computing’s Scientific Kernels
Unlocking On-Package Memory’s Effects on High-Performance Computing’s Scientific Kernels
The researchers conducted a thorough experimental evaluation to discern how modern OPMs affected the performance and power efficiency of important
March 14, 2018
The Secret Lives of Cells
The Secret Lives of Cells
This work and the FoldME model provide a comprehensive, genome-scale understanding of how cells adapt under environmental stress, with statistical
March 14, 2018
Chasing Storms through Terabytes of Data
Chasing Storms through Terabytes of Data
Climate simulations create massive amounts of data (“big data”), requiring sophisticated pattern recognition. Simulations that today
March 14, 2018
Data Dive: How Microbes Handle Poor Nutrition in Tropical Soil
Data Dive: How Microbes Handle Poor Nutrition in Tropical Soil
Applying metagenomics and metaproteomics techniques along with high-performance computing at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, the team
March 9, 2018
Not Part of the Problem
It’s Not Part of the Problem, but Part of the Solution
Rationally designed metal-binding ligands, such as bis-triazine phenanthrolines, have shown great promise for separating actinides over other
February 28, 2018
Buckyball Marries Graphene
Buckyball Marries Graphene
Charge transfer at the interface between dissimilar materials is at the heart of almost all electronic technologies such as transistors and
February 28, 2018
Atomic Movies Explain Why Perovskite Solar Cells Are More Efficient
Atomic Movies Explain Why Perovskite Solar Cells Are More Efficient
Although perovskite solar cell efficiencies have climbed above the 20 percent mark, the fundamental mechanism responsible for these efficiencies is
February 28, 2018
Catalysts: High Performance Lies on the Edge
Catalysts: High Performance Lies on the Edge
In fuel cells, promotion of the reaction of oxygen and hydrogenat the cathode (the oxygen reduction reaction) currently requires the use of