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A New Way to Image Solar Cells in 3-D

The Molecular Foundry's Ed Barnard is part of a team of scientists that developed a new way to see inside solar cells. (Credit: Marilyn Chung)

Scientists have developed a way to use optical microscopy to map thin-film solar cells in 3-D as they absorb photons. The new method could help researchers learn new ways to boost photovoltaic efficiency.

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.

Berkeley Lab Takes Home Five R&D 100 Awards for Environmental, Battery, and X-ray Technologies

Photo - The Compact Dynamic Beamstop (CDBS) device, at left, designed to provide real time information to improve X-ray crystallography experiments, with a size comparison to a ballpoint pen tip. (Credit: Berkeley Lab)

Berkeley Lab-developed tech enabling energy-saving roofs, long-lived batteries, better data from X-ray experiments, safer drinking water, and reduced carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have received 2016 R&D 100 awards.

Workshop Focuses in on Electron Microscopy

Photo - High-resolution cryoEM imaging and a unique analysis tool enabled this image of a microtubule, a hollow cylinder with walls made up of a mix of tubulin proteins. (Credit: Berkeley Lab)

A “Future Electron Microscopy” workshop held Tuesday, Oct. 11, at the ALS User Support Building showcased the breadth and depth of electron microscopy at Berkeley Lab.

Nanoscale Tetrapods Could Provide Early Warning of a Material’s Failure


Light-emitting, four-armed nanocrystals could someday form the basis of an early warning system in structural materials by revealing microscopic cracks that portend failure.

Discovery Could Dramatically Boost Efficiency of Perovskite Solar Cells

A team of scientists from the Molecular Foundry and the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, both at Berkeley Lab, found a surprising characteristic of perovskite solar cells that could boost their efficiency. On the left side (front to back) are: Jeffrey Neaton, Linn Leppert, Sebastian Reyes-Lillo, and Ed Wong. On the right (front to back) are Sibel Leblebici, Francesca Toma, Ian Sharp, Paul Ashby, and Alexander Weber-Bargioni. (Credit: Paul Meuller/Berkeley Lab)

A possible secret to increasing the efficiency of perovskite solar cells has been found hidden in the nanoscale peaks and valleys of the crystalline material.

Berkeley Lab Scientists Discover Surprising New Properties in a 2-D Semiconductor


Researchers found how substantial linear defects in a new semiconductor create entirely new properties. Some of these properties indicate the defects might even mediate superconducting states.

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.

Revealing the Fluctuations of Flexible DNA in 3-D

Illustration: In a Berkeley Lab-led study, flexible double-helix DNA segments connected to gold nanoparticles are revealed from the 3-D density maps (purple and yellow) reconstructed from individual samples using a Berkeley Lab-developed technique called individual-particle electron tomography or IPET. Projections of the structures are shown in the background grid. (Credit: Berkeley Lab)

Scientists have captured the first high-resolution 3-D images from individual double-helix DNA segments attached to gold nanoparticles, which could aid in the use of DNA segments as building blocks for molecular devices that function as nanoscale drug-delivery systems, markers for biological research, and components for electronic devices.

Nature-Inspired Nanotubes That Assemble Themselves, With Precision

Precision meets nano-construction, as seen in this illustration. Berkeley Lab scientists discovered a peptoid composed of two chemically distinct blocks (shown in orange and blue) that assembles itself into nanotubes with uniform diameters. (Credit: Berkeley Lab)

Scientists have discovered a family of nature-inspired polymers that, when placed in water, spontaneously assemble into hollow crystalline nanotubes. What’s more, the nanotubes can be tuned to all have the same diameter of between five and ten nanometers.