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Berkeley Lab researchers have zeroed in on the limitations of laser-plasma particle accelerator (LPA) development efforts and believe they have found a new path forward with optical fiber lasers. A new approach to high-power lasers – combining the pulses from many fast-acting but lower-energy optical fiber lasers – will energize these super-compact accelerators.

Feature Story

How Can Next-Gen Computer Chips Reduce Our Carbon Footprint?

December 1st, 2021

Berkeley Lab scientists Maurice Garcia-Sciveres and Ramamoorthy Ramesh discuss how future microchips could perform better – and require less energy – than silicon. Over the next three years, they will lead two of the 10 projects recently awarded nearly $54 million by the Department of Energy to increase energy efficiency in microelectronics design and production.

Feature Story

Chloro-phylling in the Answers to Big Questions

November 30th, 2021

Photosynthesis – the enzyme-based process of converting carbon dioxide into food, using water and sunlight – is literally the foundation of life on Earth, and understanding the reaction at an atomic level could lead to vast production of renewable fuels made from greenhouse gases sucked out of the air. A Berkeley Lab team has been uncovering precise, step-by-step details of photosynthesis for years. We spoke to two members, co-lead author and senior scientist Vittal Yachandra and co-first author and postdoctoral researcher Philipp Simon, about their latest study, shooting stuff with lasers, and why they chose this field.

News Release

Sizing Up the Challenges in Extracting Lithium from Geothermal Brine

November 29th, 2021

For geothermal fields around the world, produced geothermal brine has been simply injected back underground, but now it’s become clear that the brines produced at the Salton Sea geothermal field contain an immense amount of lithium, a critical resource need for low-carbon transportation and energy storage. Demand for lithium is skyrocketing, as it is an essential ingredient in lithium-ion batteries. Currently there is very little lithium production in the U.S. and most lithium is imported; however, that may change in the near future.

News Release

Big Batteries on Wheels Can Deliver Zero-Emissions Rail While Securing the Grid

November 23rd, 2021

The recent dramatic decline in battery prices has created a new possibility for electrification of freight trains. Researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, collaborating with UCLA and UC Berkeley researchers, make the case that the U.S. can retrofit diesel-electric trains with batteries in a way that is cost-competitive with diesel. Doing so would avoid up to 1,000 premature deaths and save the U.S. freight rail sector $94 billion over 20 years from reduced air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions.

News Release

Turning Up the Heat: Thermal Energy Storage Could Play Major Role in Decarbonizing Buildings

November 18th, 2021

Could a tank of ice or hot water be a battery? Yes! If a battery is a device for storing energy, then storing hot or cold water to power a building’s heating or air-conditioning system is a different type of energy storage. Known as thermal energy storage, the technology has been around for a long time but has often been overlooked. Now scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are making a concerted push to take thermal energy storage to the next level.

News Release

New Technique Improves Conversion of Carbon Dioxide Into Liquid Fuels

November 17th, 2021

Researchers at Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley have demonstrated how coating copper catalysts with thin films can improve a standard technique for converting carbon dioxide emissions into useful chemicals and liquid fuels.