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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.

3-D Imaging Technique Maps Migration of DNA-carrying Material at the Center of Cells

Image - This image shows the skeletonized structure of heterochromatin (red represents a thin region while white represents a thick region), a tightly packed form of DNA, surrounding another form of DNA-carrying material known as euchromatin (dark blue represents a thin region and yellow represent the thickest) in a mouse’s mature nerve cell. (Credit: Berkeley Lab, UCSF)

Scientists have produced detailed 3-D visualizations that show an unexpected connectivity in the genetic material at the center of cells, providing a new understanding of a cell’s evolving architecture.

Gatekeeping Proteins to Aberrant RNA: You Shall Not Pass

Schematic of a gateway in the nuclear membrane, known as the nuclear pore complex (NPC), and the proteins (shown as spheres) involved in transport and quality control of mRNAs (shown in red). A combination of a multitude of protein-protein interactions enables the cell to distinguish and keep aberrant mRNAs from exiting the nucleus. (Credit: Mohammad Soheilypour/Berkeley Lab)

Berkeley Lab researchers found that aberrant strands of genetic code have telltale signs that enable gateway proteins to recognize and block them from exiting the nucleus. Their findings shed light on a complex system of cell regulation that acts as a form of quality control for the transport of genetic information. A more complete picture of how genetic information gets expressed in cells is important in disease research.

Navigating an Ocean of Biological Data in the Modern Era


Scientists and software engineers at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have developed a new -omics visualization tool, Arrowland, which combines different realms of functional genomics data in a single intuitive interface. The aim of this system is to provide scientists an easier way to navigate the ever-growing amounts of biological

Brain Modulyzer Provides Interactive Window Into the Brain

Brain Modulyzer combines multiple coordinated views—such as heat maps, node link diagrams and anatomical views—of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data—like heat maps, node link diagrams and anatomical views—to provide context for brain connectivity data. (Sugeerth Murugesan, Berkeley Lab/UC Davis)

For the first time, a new tool developed at Berkeley Lab allows researchers to interactively explore the hierarchical processes that happen in the brain when it is resting or performing tasks. Scientists also hope that the tool can shed some light on how neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s spread throughout the brain.

All E-Cigarettes Emit Harmful Chemicals, but Some Emit More Than Others

Berkeley Lab researchers (from left) Lara Gundel, Marion Russell, Hugo Destaillats. (credit: Paul Mueller/Berkeley Lab)

A Berkeley Lab study has found that the the solvents found in most electronic cigarette “e-liquids” emit toxic chemicals such as acrolein and formaldehyde when burned.

Scientists Harness CO2 to Consolidate Biofuel Production Process

JBEI scientists have advanced the use of ionic liquids, shown here, to break down cellulosic biomass. The latest development involves the use of carbon dioxide to reversibly adjust the pH level of ionic liquids, greatly simplifying the biofuel production process and lowering cost. (Credit: Roy Kaltschmidt/Berkeley Lab)

JBEI scientists have shown that adding carbon dioxide gas during the deconstruction phase of biofuel production successfully neutralized the toxicity of ionic liquids. The technique, which is reversible, allows the liquid to be recycled, representing a major step forward in streamlining the biofuel production process.

New workflow to help microbe-based biofuels production

Scientist picks up bacterial colonies. (iStockphoto)

The development of omics technologies, such as metabolomics and proteomics, and systems biology have dramatically enhanced the ability to understand biological phenomena. However, the interpretation of large omics data and the understanding of complex metabolic interactions in engineered microbes remains challenging. A new open-source workflow developed by researchers at the Department of Energy’s Joint BioEnergy

Got Plaque? Berkeley Lab Tech Provides Measure of Artery Health

Jonathan Maltz demonstrates the Engevity Cuff technology that detects early signs of poor arterial health. (Credit: Sarah Yang/Berkeley Lab)

What if checking the state of your arterial health were as simple as monitoring your blood pressure? New Berkeley Lab technology could soon make detecting the process of plaque buildup in vessels a routine part of a visit to the doctor and, perhaps, home healthcare settings.

Berkeley Lab Scientists Brew Jet Fuel in One-Pot Recipe

Marijke Frederix (left) and Aindrila Mukhopadhyay in a microbiology lab at the Joint BioEnergy Institute. (Credit: Irina Silva/JBEI, Berkeley Lab)

Berkeley Lab scientists have engineered a strain of bacteria that enables a “one-pot” method for producing advanced biofuels from a slurry of pre-treated plant material. The achievement is a critical step in making biofuels a viable competitor to fossil fuels.