A proposed upgrade to the Advanced Light Source—which would provide new views of materials and chemistry at the nanoscale with X-ray beams up to 1,000 times brighter than possible now—has cleared the first step in a Department of Energy approval process. The upgrade would enable new explorations of chemical reactions, battery performance, and biological processes.
Scientists have for the first time viewed how bacterial proteins self-assemble into thin sheets and begin to form the walls of the outer shell for nano-sized polyhedral compartments that function as specialized factories. The research provides new clues for scientists seeking to use these 3-D structures as “nanoreactors” to selectively suck in toxins or churn out desired products.
Scientists aspire to build nanostructures that mimic the complexity and function of nature’s proteins, but are made of durable and synthetic materials. These microscopic widgets could be customized into incredibly sensitive chemical detectors or long-lasting catalysts, to name a few possible applications. A discovery by Berkeley Lab scientists is a step in that direction.