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Berkeley Lab Develops Nanoscope to Probe Chemistry on the Molecular Scale

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By combining atomic force microscopy with infrared synchrotron light, researchers from Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source and the University of Colorado have improved the spatial resolution of infrared spectroscopy by orders of magnitude, while simultaneously covering its full spectroscopic range, enabling the investigation of variety of nanoscale, mesoscale, and surface phenomena that were previously difficult to study.

3D Dynamic Imaging of Soft Materials

Through a combination of transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and a unique graphene liquid cell, Berkeley Lab researchers have recorded the three-dimensional motion of DNA connected to gold nanocrystals, the first reported use of TEM for 3D dynamic imaging of soft materials.

Atom by Atom, Bond by Bond, a Chemical Reaction Caught in the Act

Berkeley Lab scientists have produced remarkable images of carbon atoms and the bonds among them. Resembling glowing textbook diagrams, hydrocarbon molecules are shown in high resolution for the first time before and after the breaking, rearrangement of atoms, and reforming of bonds during a complex chemical reaction.

Reading the Human Genome

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Berkeley Lab researchers have achieved a major advance in understanding how genetic information is transcribed from DNA to RNA by providing the first step-by-step look at the biomolecular machinery that reads the human genome.

What Kind of Iron is in the Southern Ocean?

At bottom left, the kinds of iron species found in two transects of the Southern Ocean are shown in descending order from most soluble (yellow and red) to least soluble (blue and purple). The pie charts at right show the proportions of each species sampled at points between the SANAE base and Cape Town, and the pie charts at left show the samples between SANAE and South Georgia Island. (ACC stands for Antarctic Circumpolar Current.) The map shows chlorophyll concentrations in milligrams per cubic meter, per the scale at bottom right. There is a rough tendency for soluble iron regions to show greater chlorophyll concentrations.

The Southern Ocean, circling the Earth between Antarctica and the southernmost regions of Africa, South America, and Australia, is notorious for its High Nutrient, Low Chlorophyl zones, areas otherwise rich in nutrients but poor in essential iron. Sea life is less abundant in these regions because the growth of phytoplankton, the marine plants that form

First Direct Observation of Oriented Attachment in Nanocrystal Growth

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Berkeley Lab researchers have reported the first direct observation of nanoparticles undergoing oriented attachment, the critical step in biomineralization and the growth of nanocrystals. A better understanding of oriented attachment in nanoparticles is a key to synthesizing new materials with remarkable structural properties.

Nanoparticles Seen as Artificial Atoms

Sequential color TEM images showing the growth of Pt3Fe nanorods over time, displayed as minutes:seconds. Nanoparticles form twisty chains then straighten into nanorods. (Images courtesy of Haimei Zheng)

Observing the formation of nanorods in real-time, Berkeley Lab researchers found that nanoparticles become attached to form winding chains that eventually align, attach end-to-end, straighten and stretch into elongated nanowires. This supports the theory of nanoparticles acting like artificial atoms during crystal growth and points the way to future energy devices.

How Good Cholesterol Turns Bad

(Top panel) Optimized negative-staining EM of CETP shows the banana shape with a larger, dense and more globular end and a smaller, less dense and more tapered opposite end. (Lower panel)  Overlaying the CETP crystal structure onto ns-EM image shows a near-perfect match in structural shape and size.

Berkeley Lab researchers have found new evidence to explain how cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) mediates the transfer of cholesterol from “good” high density lipoproteins (HDLs) to “bad” low density lipoproteins (LDLs). These findings point the way to the design of safer, more effective next generation CETP inhibitors that could help prevent the development of heart disease.

A Single Cell Endoscope

Fluorescence confocal image of a single living HeLa cell shows that via nanoendoscopy a quantum dot cluster (red dot) has been delivered to the cytoplasm within the membrane (green) of the cell. (Courtesy of Berkeley Lab)

Berkeley Lab researchers have developed a nanowire endoscope that can provide high-resolution optical images of the interior of a single living cell, or precisely deliver genes, proteins, therapeutic drugs or other cargo without injuring or damaging the cell.

Partnership for Progress in Electronics Strengthened by New Lab-Industry Investment

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Through the Center for X-Ray Optics, Berkeley Lab and leading semiconductor manufacturers have mutually invested in major new facilities at the Advanced Light Source for advanced extreme-ultraviolet lithography, including clean rooms, wafer processing facilities, and microlithography test tools too costly for individual manufacturers.