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On the Path Toward Bionic Enzymes

This graphic depicts a view into the bionic enzyme, an artificial metalloenzyme created by Berkeley Lab scientists. Within the protein (grey) is a porphyrin (red), a component of natural heme proteins, with iridium as the active site (purple). The enzyme converts the molecules at the top left and right to those at the bottom left and right by reaction at a carbon-hydrogen bond and carbon-carbon double bond, respectively. (Credit: John Hartwig Lab/Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley)

Berkeley Lab chemists have successfully married chemistry and biology to create reactions never before possible. They did this by replacing the iron normally found in the muscle protein myoglobin with iridium, a noble metal not known to be used by living systems.

Copper is Key in Burning Fat

Chris Chang and UC Berkeley graduate student Sumin Lee carry out experiments to find proteins that bind to copper and potentially influence the storage and burning of fat. (Credit: Peg Skorpinski/UC Berkeley)

A new study led by a Berkeley Lab scientist and UC Berkeley professor establishes for the first time copper’s role in fat metabolism, further burnishing the metal’s reputation as an essential nutrient for human physiology.

New Path Forward for Next-Generation Lithium-Ion Batteries

A new study by Berkeley Lab researchers Dong-Hwa Seo, Alex Urban, Jinhyuk Lee, and Gerd Ceder (from left) sheds light on how lithium-rich cathodes work, opening the door to higher capacity batteries.

A team led by Gerbrand Ceder has made a major advance in understanding the chemical processes in “lithium-rich cathodes,” which hold promise for a higher energy lithium-ion battery.

‘Disruptive Device’ Brings Xenon-NMR to Fragile Materials

This illustration shows how the new method works. Hyperpolarized xenon-129, which can sense molecular ordering within the samples, diffuses through hollow membrane fibers containing viscous liquids. Different chemical environments, including phases (gas, liquid or solid) and types of molecular order, correspond to highly resolved xenon-129 chemical shifts, represented here by different colors of xenon atoms. (Image credit: Ashley Truxal)

A new device will enable nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, coupled with a powerful molecular sensor, to analyze molecular interactions in viscous solutions and fragile materials such as liquid crystals.

Weaving a New Story for COFS and MOFs

Omar Weaving art illustation feature

An international collaboration led by Berkeley Lab scientists
has woven the first 3D covalent organic frameworks (COFs) from helical organic threads. The woven COFs display significant advantages in structural flexibility, resiliency and reversibility over previous COFs.

Seeing the Big Picture in Photosynthetic Light Harvesting

Through the miracle of photosynthesis, plants absorb sunlight in their leaves and convert the photonic energy into chemical energy that is stored as sugars in the plants’ biomass. (Photo by Roy Kaltschmidt)

Berkeley Lab scientists have created the first computational model that simulates the light-harvesting activity of thousands of antenna proteins that would interact in the chloroplast of an actual leaf. The results point the way to improving the yields of food and fuel crops, and developing artificial photosynthesis technologies for next generation solar energy systems.

A Most Singular Nano-Imaging Technique

SINGLE uses in situ TEM imaging of platinum nanocrystals freely rotating in a graphene liquid cell to determine the 3D structures of individual colloidal nanoparticles.

“SINGLE” is a new imaging technique that provides the first atomic-scale 3D structures of individual nanoparticles in solution. This is an important step for improving the design of colloidal nanoparticles for catalysis and energy research applications.

A New Look at Surface Chemistry

Jim Ciston feature image

A multi-institutional team of researchers, including scientists from Berkeley Lab, have used a new scanning electron microscopy technique to resolve the unique atomic structure at the surface of a material. This new technique holds promise for the study of catalysis, corrosion and other critical chemical reactions.

A Hot Start to the Origin of Life?

Composite image of an energetic star explosion taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in March of 1997. Credit: NASA

Researchers from Berkeley Lab and the University of Hawaii at Manoa have shown for the first time that cosmic hot spots, such as those near stars, could be excellent environments for the creation of molecular precursors to DNA.

Major Advance in Artificial Photosynthesis Poses Win/Win for the Environment

Peidong feature image

By combining biocompatible light-capturing nanowire arrays with select bacterial populations, a potentially game-changing new artificial photosynthesis system offers a win/win situation for the environment: solar-powered green chemistry using sequestered carbon dioxide.