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Berkeley Lab Director Announces Intention to Step Down


After six years as Lab Director, Paul Alivisatos announced he will leave his position once a successor can be recruited to lead the Lab. Alivisatos will return to his research and teaching activities as a senior scientist in the Materials Sciences Division and as a faculty member on the UC Berkeley campus.

A Better Way of Scrubbing CO2

Manganese-based MOF

Berkeley Lab researchers have discovered a means by which the removal of carbon dioxide (CO2) from coal-fired power plants might one day be done far more efficiently and at far lower costs than today. By appending a diamine molecule to the sponge-like solid materials known as metal-organic-frameworks (MOFs), the researchers were able to more than triple the CO2-scrubbing capacity of the MOFs, while significantly reducing parasitic energy.

Bigger steps: Berkeley Lab researchers develop algorithm to make simulation of ultrafast processes possible

Rachel feature image

Berkeley Lab researchers have developed a new algorithm that makes it easier to produce real-time numerical simulations of ultrafast physical phenomena, such as electrical charge transfer.

Bacterial Armor Holds Clues for Self-Assembling Nanostructures

S-layer bacteria

Berkeley Lab researchers at the Molecular Foundry have uncovered key details in the process by which bacterial proteins self-assemble into a protective coating, like chainmail armor. This process can be a model for the self-assembly of 2D and 3D nanostructures.

Solving an Organic Semiconductor Mystery

Sketch of organic semiconductor thin film shows that the interfacial region between larger domains (blue and green) consists of randomly oriented small, nano-crystalline domains (purple).

Organic semiconductors are prized for light emitting diodes (LEDs), field effect transistors (FETs) and photovoltaic cells. As they can be printed from solution, they provide a highly scalable, cost-effective alternative to silicon-based devices. Uneven performances, however, have been a persistent problem. That’s now changed.

Piezoelectricity in a 2D Semiconductor

Xiang Zhang feature MoS2

Berkeley Lab researchers have opened the door to low-power off/on switches in micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) and nanoelectronic devices, as well as ultrasensitive bio-sensors, with the first observation of piezoelectricity in a free standing two-dimensional semiconductor.

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.

Switching to Spintronics


Berkeley Lab researchers used an electric field to reverse the magnetization direction in a multiferroic spintronic device at room temperature, a demonstration that points a new way towards spintronics and smaller, faster and cheaper ways of storing and processing data.

A Better Look at the Chemistry of Interfaces

Chuck Fadley feature image Large

SWAPPS – Standing Wave Ambient Pressure Photoelectron Spectroscopy – is a new X-ray technique developed at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source that provides sub-nanometer resolution of every chemical element to be found at heterogeneous interfaces, such as those in batteries, fuel cells and other devices.

Golden Approach to High-speed DNA Reading

Schematic drawing of graphene nanopore with self-integrated
optical antenna (gold) that enhances the optical readout signal (red) of DNA as it passes through a graphene nanopore.

Berkeley researchers have created the world’s first graphene nanopores that feature integrated optical antennas. The antennas open the door to high-speed optical nanopore sequencing of DNA.