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The Best Topological Conductor Yet: Spiraling Crystal Is the Key to Exotic Discovery

A team of researchers working at Berkeley Lab has discovered the strongest topological conductor yet, in the form of thin crystal samples that have a spiral-staircase structure. The team’s result is reported in the March 20 edition of the journal Nature.

Bright Skies for Plant-Based Jet Fuels

With an estimated daily fuel demand of more than 5 million barrels per day, the global aviation sector is incredibly energy-intensive and almost entirely reliant on petroleum-based fuels. But a new analysis by Berkeley Lab shows that sustainable plant-based bio-jet fuels could be competitive with conventional fuels if current development and scale-up initiatives continue to push ahead successfully.

Sea Quark Surprise Reveals Deeper Complexity in Proton Spin Puzzle

New data from the STAR experiment at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) add detail – and complexity – to an intriguing puzzle that scientists have been seeking to solve: how the building blocks that make up a proton contribute to its spin.

Uncovering Uncultivated Microbes in the Human Gut

A human’s health is shaped both by environmental factors and the body’s interactions with the microbiome, particularly in the gut. Genome sequences are critical for characterizing individual microbes and understanding their functional roles. However, previous studies have estimated that only 50 percent of species in the gut microbiome have a sequenced genome, in part because many species have not yet been cultivated for study.

Engineering Living ‘Scaffolds’ for Building Materials

Researchers at Berkeley Lab have developed a platform that uses living cells as “scaffolds” for building self-assembled composite materials. The technology could open the door to self-healing materials and other advanced applications in bioelectronics, biosensing, and smart materials.

Nature’s Own Biorefinery

New research from Berkeley Lab shows how an insect common to the Eastern U.S., the long-horned passalid beetle, has a hardy digestive tract with microbes to thank for turning its woody diet into energy, food for its young, and nutrients for forest growth. These insights into how the beetle and its distinct microbiome have co-evolved provide a roadmap for the production of affordable, nature-derived fuels and bioproducts.

Scientists Take a Deep Dive Into the Imperfect World of 2D Materials

A team led by scientists at Berkeley Lab has learned how natural nanoscale defects can enhance the properties of tungsten disulfide, a 2D material.

Using Tiny Organisms to Unlock Big Environmental Mysteries

When you hear about the biological processes that influence climate and the environment, such as carbon fixation or nitrogen recycling, it’s easy to think of them as abstract and incomprehensibly large-scale phenomena. Yet parts of these planet-wide processes are actually driven by the tangible actions of organisms at every scale of life, beginning at the smallest: the microorganisms living in the air, soil, and water. And now Berkeley Lab researchers have made it easier than ever to study these microbial communities by creating an optimized DNA analysis technique.

When Semiconductors Stick Together, Materials Go Quantum

A simple method developed by a Berkeley Lab-led team could turn ordinary semiconducting materials into quantum machines – superthin devices with extraordinary electronic behavior. Such an advancement could help to revolutionize a number of industries aiming for energy-efficient electronic systems – and provide a platform for exotic new physics.

How to Catch a Magnetic Monopole in the Act

A research team led by Berkeley Lab has created a nanoscale “playground” on a chip that simulates the formation of exotic magnetic particles called “monopoles.” The study could unlock the secrets to ever-smaller, more powerful memory devices, microelectronics, and next-generation hard drives that employ the power of magnetic spin to store data.