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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.

New Graphene-Based System Could Help Us ‘See’ Electrical Signaling in Heart and Nerve Cells

Image - This diagram shows the setup for an imaging method that mapped electrical signals using a sheet of graphene and an infrared laser. The laser was fired through a prism (lower left) onto a sheet of graphene. An electrode was used to send tiny electrical signals into a liquid solution (in cylinder atop the graphene), and a camera (lower right) was used to capture images mapping out these electrical signals. (Credit: Halleh Balch and Jason Horng/Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley)

Scientists have enlisted the exotic properties of graphene to function like the film of an incredibly sensitive camera system in visually mapping tiny electric fields. They hope to enlist the new method to image electrical signaling networks in our hearts and brains.

Scientists Take a Major Leap Toward a ‘Perfect’ Quantum Metamaterial

Illustration - The wavelike pattern at the top shows the accordion-like structure of a proposed quantum material—an artificial crystal made of light—that can trap atoms in regularly spaced nanoscale pockets. These pockets can be made to hold a large collection of ultracold “host” atoms (green), slowed to a standstill by laser light, and individually planted “probe” atoms (red) that can be made to transmit quantum information in the form of a photon (particle of light). The lower panel shows how the artificial crystal can be reconfigured with light from an open (hyperbolic) geometry to a closed (elliptical) geometry, which greatly affects the speed at which the probe atom can release a photon. (Credit: Pankaj K. Jha/UC Berkeley)

Scientists have devised a way to build a “quantum metamaterial”—an engineered material with exotic properties not found in nature—using ultracold atoms trapped in an artificial crystal composed of light.

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.

New Form of Electron-beam Imaging Can See Elements that are ‘Invisible’ to Common Methods

At right, this colorized image produced by a Berkeley Lab-developed electron imaging technique called STEM shows details of nanoscale gold particles and also a carbon film (blue). At left, an colorized image from a more conventional electron-based technique called ADF-STEM is mostly blind to the carbon material. (Colin Ophus/Berkeley Lab)

A new Berkeley Lab-developed electron-beam imaging technique, tested on samples of nanoscale gold and carbon, greatly improves images of light elements. The technique can reveal structural details for materials that would be overlooked by some traditional methods.

A New Spin on Quantum Computing: Scientists Train Electrons with Microwaves

Photo: Researchers at Berkeley Lab's NCDX-II accelerator.

In what may provide a potential path to processing information in a quantum computer, researchers have switched an intrinsic property of electrons from an excited state to a relaxed state on demand using a device that served as a microwave “tuning fork.”

‘Lasers Rewired’: Scientists Find a New Way to Make Nanowire Lasers

Image showing a nanolaser emitting bright light.

Scientists at Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley have found a simple new way to produce nanoscale wires that can serve as bright, stable and tunable lasers—an advance toward using light to transmit data.

Scientists Take Key Step Toward Custom-made Nanoscale Chemical Factories

The shell of a bacterial microcompartment (or BMC) is mainly composed of hexagonal proteins, with pentagonal proteins capping the vertices, similar to a soccer ball (left). Scientists have engineered one of these hexagonal proteins, normally devoid of any metal center, to bind an iron-sulfur cluster (orange and yellow sticks, upper right). This cluster can serve as an electron relay to transfer electrons across the shell. Introducing this new functionality in the shell of a BMC greatly expands their possibilities as custom-made bio-nanoreactors. (Credit: Clément Aussignargues/MSU, Cheryl Kerfeld and Markus Sutter/Berkeley Lab)

Scientists have for the first time reengineered a building block of a geometric nanocompartment that occurs naturally in bacteria. The new design provides an entirely new functionality that greatly expands the potential for these compartments to serve as custom-made chemical factories.

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.

A Nanoscale Look at Why a New Alloy is Amazingly Tough

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A team of researchers led by scientists from Berkeley Lab has identified several mechanisms that make a new material one of the toughest metallic alloys ever.