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Chemistry on the Edge: Study Pinpoints Most Active Areas of Reactions on Nanoscale Particles

Illustration - This illustration shows the setup for an experiment at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source that used infrared light (shown in red) and an atomic force microscope (middle and top) to study the local surface chemistry on coated platinum particles (yellow) measuring about 100 nanometers in length. (Credit: Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Defects and jagged surfaces at the edges of nanosized platinum and gold particles are key hot spots for chemical reactivity, researchers confirmed using a unique infrared probe.

Scientists Trace ‘Poisoning’ in Chemical Reactions to the Atomic Scale

Image - A scanning electron microscopy (SEM) image showing a type of catalyst called a zeolite that is used to convert ethanol to high-value fuels. The particles measure about 15 microns in length. (Credit: PNNL)

A combination of experiments, including X-ray studies at Berkeley Lab, revealed new details about pesky deposits that can stop chemical reactions vital to fuel production and other processes.

Solar Cells Get Boost with Integration of Water-Splitting Catalyst onto Semiconductor

Schematic of the multi-functional water splitting catalyst layer engineered using atomic layer deposition for integration with a high-efficiency silicon cell. (Credit: Ian Sharp/Berkeley Lab)

Berkeley Lab scientists have found a way to engineer the atomic-scale chemical properties of a water-splitting catalyst for integration with a solar cell, and the result is a big boost to the stability and efficiency of artificial photosynthesis. The research comes out of the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP), established to develop a cost-effective method of turning sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide into fuel.

Scientists Rev Up Speed of Bionic Enzyme Reactions

The natural enzyme CYP119 (gray ribbon) was modified both by incorporation of a metal site not found in nature (iridium porphyrin, pink) and by evolution (at sites shown in yellow).  The resulting bionic enzyme not only catalyzed reactions not possible with natural enzymes (left), but did so at high speed, making this bionic enzyme the first of it class to be comparably fast to a natural counterpart. (Credit: Hanna Key/Berkeley Lab)

Bionic enzymes got a needed boost in speed thanks to new research at Berkeley Lab. By pairing a noble metal with a natural enzyme, scientists created a hybrid capable of churning out molecules at a rate comparable to biological counterparts.

New Discovery Could Better Predict How Semiconductors Weather Abuse

Shown is a photoelectrochemical cell illuminated by a solar simulator. A bismuth vanadate thin-film electrode is being tested in an electrolyte solution to mimic conditions in an artificial photosynthesis device. (Credit: Paul Mueller/Berkeley Lab)

Berkeley Lab scientists at DOE’s Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis have found a way to better predict how thin-film semiconductors weather the harsh conditions in systems that convert sunlight, water and carbon dioxide into fuel.

Five Berkeley Lab Researchers Receive DOE Early Career Research Awards

DOE logo

Five researchers at Berkeley Lab were named today as recipients of the Early Career Research Program managed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. The program is designed to bolster the nation’s scientific workforce by providing support to exceptional researchers during the crucial early career years, when many scientists do their most formative work.

Soaking Up Carbon Dioxide and Turning it into Valuable Products

Structural model showing a covalent organic framework (COF)  embedded with a cobalt porphyrin.

Berkeley Lab researchers have incorporated molecules of porphyrin CO2 catalysts into the sponge-like crystals of covalent organic frameworks (COFs) to create a molecular system that not only absorbs CO2, but also selectively reduces it to CO, a primary building block for a wide range of chemical products.

Another Milestone in Hybrid Artificial Photosynthesis

Peidong Yang CJC Bioinorganic Solar to Chemical Text

Berkeley Lab researchers using a bioinorganic hybrid approach to artificial photosynthesis have combined semiconducting nanowires with select microbes to create a system that produces renewable molecular hydrogen and uses it to synthesize carbon dioxide into methane, the primary constituent of natural gas.

A Robot Chemist, at Your Service

Symphony X is an automated molecular synthesizer used at Berkeley Lab. Credit: Ron Zuckermann

Earlier this year, Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry got a new suite of robotic synthesis tools called the Overture and the Symphony X (pictured above), automated chemical synthesizers that assemble custom molecular structures called peptoids. Peptoid nanostructures, pioneered at Berkeley Lab, have molecular shapes similar to biological molecules like proteins, but are made with synthetic building

Making a Good Thing Better: Berkeley Lab Researchers Open a Possible Avenue to Better Electrolyte for Lithium Ion Batteries

X-ray absorption spectra, interpreted using first-principles electronic structure calculations, provide insight into the solvation of the lithium ion in propylene carbonate. (Image courtesy of Rich Saykally, Berkeley)

Berkeley Lab researchers carried out the first X-ray absorption spectroscopy study of a model electrolyte for lithium-ion batteries and may have found a pathway forward to improving LIBs for electric vehicles and large-scale electrical energy storage.