News Center

New Sensor Could Shake Up Earthquake Response Efforts

An optical sensor developed at Berkeley Lab could speed up the time it takes to evaluate whether buildings are safe to occupy after a major earthquake. After four years of extensive peer-reviewed research and simulative testing at the University of Nevada’s Earthquake Engineering Laboratory, the Discrete Diode Position Sensor (DDPS) will be deployed for the first time this summer in a multi-story building at Berkeley Lab – which sits adjacent to the Hayward Fault, considered one of the most dangerous faults in the United States.

Epic Research Endeavor Reveals Cause of Deadly Digestive Disease in Children

Nearly ten years ago, a group of Israeli clinical researchers emailed Berkeley Lab geneticist Len Pennacchio to ask for his team’s help in solving the mystery of a rare inherited disease that caused extreme, and sometimes fatal, chronic diarrhea in children. Now, following an arduous investigative odyssey that expanded our understanding of regulatory sequences in the human genome, the multinational scientific group has announced the discovery of the genetic explanation for this disease.

Can’t Take the Heat? ‘Cool Walls’ Can Reduce Energy Costs, Pollution

A study by scientists at Berkeley Lab modeled several different types and ages of homes, retail stores, and office buildings in cities across California and the U.S. and found that sunlight-reflecting “cool” exterior walls can save as much or more energy than sunlight-reflecting cool roofs in many places.

3 Sky Surveys Completed in Preparation for Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument

It took three sky surveys – conducted at telescopes in two continents, covering one-third of the visible sky, and requiring almost 1,000 observing nights – to prepare for a new project that will create the largest 3D map of the universe’s galaxies and glean new insights about the universe’s accelerating expansion.

With Little Training, Machine-Learning Algorithms Can Uncover Hidden Scientific Knowledge

Researchers have shown that an algorithm with no training in materials science can scan the text of millions of papers and uncover new scientific knowledge. A Berkeley Lab-led team collected 3.3 million abstracts of published materials science papers and fed them into an algorithm. By analyzing relationships between words the algorithm was able to predict discoveries of new thermoelectric materials years in advance and suggest as-yet unknown materials as candidates for thermoelectric materials.

Scientists Hit Pay Dirt with New Microbial Research Technique

Long ago, during the European Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci wrote that we humans “know more about the movement of celestial bodies than about the soil underfoot.” Five hundred years and innumerable technological and scientific advances later, his sentiment still holds true. But that could soon change. A new study in Nature Communications details how an improved method for studying microbes in the soil will help scientists understand both fine-grained details and large-scale cycles of the environment.

Blue Pigment from Engineered Fungi Could Help Turn the Textile Industry Green

A new biosynthetic production pathway developed by scientists at the Joint BioEnergy Institute could provide a sustainable alternative to conventional synthetic blue dye. The highly efficient fungi-based platform may also open the door for producing many other valuable biological compounds that are currently very hard to manufacture.

Mineral Discovery Made Easier: X-Ray Technique Shines a New Light on Tiny, Rare Crystals

Like a tiny needle in a sprawling hayfield, a single crystal grain measuring just tens of millionths of a meter – found in a borehole sample drilled in Central Siberia – had an unexpected chemical makeup. And a specialized X-ray technique in use at Berkeley Lab confirmed the sample’s uniqueness and paved the way for its formal recognition as a newly discovered mineral: ognitite.

Pulsed Electron Beams Shed Light on Plastics Production

Researchers at Berkeley Lab, in collaboration with Dow and Eindhoven University of Technology, have developed a pulsed electron beam technique that enables high-resolution imaging of magnesium chloride without damage. This approach could apply to a vast range of beam-sensitive materials, and help to create a path toward sustainable plastics.

Berkeley Lab Technology Provides Clarity Amid Hawaiian Water Contamination Concerns

For years, routine testing has shown that watersheds of the Mahaulepu Valley and Waikomo Stream in southeast Kauai frequently contain high counts of potentially pathogenic fecal indicator bacteria (FIB). To better understand the cause of the high FIB counts, the DOH commissioned a study by Berkeley Lab microbial ecologists Gary Andersen and Eric Dubinsky. After using a powerful microbial detection tool called the PhyloChip, the scientists concluded that most of the past monitoring results were false positives.