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Scientists Set Record Resolution for Drawing at the One-Nanometer Length Scale

Using a specialized electron microscope outfitted with a pattern generator, scientists turned an imaging instrument into a lithography tool that could be used to create and study materials with new properties.

For First Time, Researchers Measure Forces That Align Crystals and Help Them Snap Together

For the first time, researchers have measured the force that draws tiny crystals together and visualized how they swivel and align. Called van der Waals forces, the attraction provides insights into how crystals self-assemble, an activity that occurs in a wide range of cases in nature, from rocks to shells to bones.

Video Captures Bubble-Blowing Battery in Action

PNNL researchers have created a unique video that shows oxygen bubbles inflating and later deflating inside a tiny lithium-air battery. The knowledge gained from the video could help make lithium-air batteries that are more compact, stable and can hold onto a charge longer.

Study Offers New Theoretical Approach to Describing Non-Equilibrium Phase Transitions

Two physicists at Argonne offered a way to mathematically describe a particular physics phenomenon called a phase transition in a system out of equilibrium. Such phenomena are central in physics, and understanding how they occur has been a long-held and vexing goal; their behavior and related effects are key to unlocking possibilities for new electronics and other next-generation technologies.

Berkeley Lab Scientists Discover New Atomically Layered, Thin Magnet

Berkeley Lab scientists have found an unexpected magnetic property in a 2-D material. The new atomically thin, flat magnet could have major implications for a wide range of applications, such as nanoscale memory, spintronic devices, and magnetic sensors.

Stabilizing Molecule Could Pave Way for Lithium-Air Fuel Cell

Lithium-oxygen fuel cells boast energy density levels comparable to fossil fuels and are thus seen as a promising candidate for future transportation-related energy needs.

Scientists Identify Chemical Causes of Battery "Capacity Fade"

Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory identified one of the major culprits in capacity fade of high-energy lithium-ion batteries.

Modeling Reveals How Policy Affects the Adoption of Solar Energy Photovoltaics in California

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside, inspired by efforts to promote green energy, are exploring the factors driving commercial customers in Southern California, both large and small, to purchase and install solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. As the group reports this week in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, they built a model for commercial solar PV adoption to quantify the impact of government incentives and solar PV costs.

Machine Learning Dramatically Streamlines Search for More Efficient Chemical Reactions

A catalytic reaction may follow thousands of possible paths, and it can take years to identify which one it actually takes so scientists can tweak it and make it more efficient. Now researchers at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University have taken a big step toward cutting through this thicket of possibilities.

Freezing Lithium Batteries May Make Them Safer and Bendable

Columbia Engineering Professor Yuan Yang has developed a new method that could lead to lithium batteries that are safer, have longer battery life, and are bendable, providing new possibilities such as flexible smartphones. His new technique uses ice-templating to control the structure of the solid electrolyte for lithium batteries that are used in portable electronics, electric vehicles, and grid-level energy storage. The study is published online April 24 in Nano Letters.


OU Engineering Professor Receives National Science Foundation Early CAREER Award

A University of Oklahoma Gallogly College of Engineering professor, Steven P. Crossley, is the recipient of a five-year, National Science Foundation Early CAREER Award in the amount of $548,829 for research that can be used to understand catalysts that are important for a broad range of chemical reactions ranging from the production of renewable fuels and chemicals for natural gas processing. The research will be integrated with educational and outreach programs intended for American Indian students, emphasizing the importance of sustainable energy.

3 Small Energy Firms to Collaborate with PNNL

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is collaborating with three small businesses to address technical challenges concerning hydrogen for fuel cell cars, bio-coal and nanomaterial manufacturing.

ORNL to Collaborate with Five Small Businesses to Advance Energy Tech

Five small companies have been selected to partner with the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory to move technologies in commercial refrigeration systems, water power generation, bioenergy and battery manufacturing closer to the marketplace.

U.S. Department of Energy's INCITE Program Seeks Advanced Computational Research Proposals for 2018

The Department of Energy's INCITE program will be accepting proposals for high-impact, computationally intensive research campaigns in a broad array of science, engineering, and computer science domains.

New Berkeley Lab Project Turns Waste Heat to Electricity

A new Berkeley Lab project seeks to efficiently capture waste heat and convert it to electricity, potentially saving California up to $385 million per year. With a $2-million grant from the California Energy Commission, Berkeley Lab scientists will work with Alphabet Energy to create a cost-effective thermoelectric waste heat recovery system.

New SLAC Theory Institute Aims to Speed Research on Exotic Materials at Light Sources

A new institute at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory is using the power of theory to search for new types of materials that could revolutionize society - by making it possible, for instance, to transmit electricity over power lines with no loss.

Lenvio Inc. Exclusively Licenses ORNL Malware Behavior Detection Technology

Virginia-based Lenvio Inc. has exclusively licensed a cyber security technology from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory that can quickly detect malicious behavior in software not previously identified as a threat.

Argonne Scientist and Nobel Laureate Alexei Abrikosov Dies at 88

Alexei Abrikosov, an acclaimed physicist at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory who received the 2003 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on superconducting materials, died Wednesday, March 29. He was 88.

Jefferson Lab Accomplishes Critical Milestones Toward Completion of 12 GeV Upgrade

The Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF) at the U.S. Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility has achieved two major commissioning milestones and is now entering the final stretch of work to conclude its first major upgrade. Recently, the CEBAF accelerator delivered electron beams into two of its experimental halls, Halls B and C, at energies not possible before the upgrade for commissioning of the experimental equipment currently in each hall. Data were recorded in each hall, which were then confirmed to be of sufficient quality to allow for particle identification, a primary indicator of good detector operation.

Valerie Taylor Named Argonne National Laboratory's Mathematics and Computer Science Division Director

Computer scientist Valerie Taylor has been appointed as the next director of the Mathematics and Computer Science division at Argonne, effective July 3, 2017.


Uncrowded Coils

A new fast and robust algorithm for computing stellarator coil shapes yields designs that are easier to build and maintain.

Fast Electrons and the Seeds of Disruption

Physicists measured fast electron populations. They achieved this first-of-its-kind result by seeing the effect of the fast electrons on the ablation rate of small frozen argon pellets.

Plasma Turbulence Generates Flow in Fusion Reactors

Heating the core of fusion reactors causes them to develop sheared rotation that can improve plasma performance.

The Roadmap to Quark Soup

Scientists discover new signposts in the quest to determine how matter from the early universe turned into the world we know today.

Neutrons Play the Lead to Protons in Dance Around "Double-Magic" Nucleus

Electric and magnetic properties of a radioactive atom provide unique insight into the nature of proton and neutron motion.

Ultrafast Imaging Reveals the Electron's New Clothes

Scientists use high-speed electrons to visualize "dress-like" distortions in the atomic lattice. This work reveals the vital role of electron-lattice interactions in manganites. This material could be used in data-storage devices with increased data density and reduced power requirements.

One Small Change Makes Solar Cells More Efficient

For years, scientists have explored using tiny drops of designer materials, called quantum dots, to make better solar cells. Adding small amounts of manganese decreases the ability of quantum dots to absorb light but increases the current produced by an average of 300%.

Electronic "Cyclones" at the Nanoscale

Through highly controlled synthesis, scientists controlled competing atomic forces to let spiral electronic structures form. These polar vortices can serve as a precursor to new phenomena in materials. The materials could be vital for ultra-low energy electronic devices.

In a Flash! A New Way for Making Ceramics

A new process controllably but instantly consolidates ceramic parts, potentially important for manufacturing.

Deciphering Material Properties at the Single-Atom Level

Scientists determine the precise location and identity of all 23,000 atoms in a nanoparticle.


Friday April 07, 2017, 11:05 AM

Champions in Science: Profile of Jonathan Kirzner

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Wednesday April 05, 2017, 12:05 PM

High-Schooler Solves College-Level Security Puzzle From Argonne, Sparks Interest in Career

Argonne National Laboratory

Tuesday March 28, 2017, 12:05 PM

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Friday March 24, 2017, 10:40 AM

Great Neck South High School Wins Regional Science Bowl at Brookhaven Lab

Brookhaven National Laboratory

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Middle Schoolers Test Their Knowledge at Science Bowl Competition

Argonne National Laboratory

Friday January 27, 2017, 04:00 PM

Haslam Visits ORNL to Highlight State's Role in Discovering Tennessine

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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Internship Program Helps Foster Development of Future Nuclear Scientists

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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More Than 12,000 Explore Jefferson Lab During April 30 Open House

Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility

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Ames Laboratory

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NMSU Undergrad Tackles 3D Particle Scattering Animations After Receiving JSA Research Assistantship

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Shannon Greco: A Self-Described "STEM Education Zealot"

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Brookhaven National Laboratory

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University of Utah Makes Solar Accessible

University of Utah

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Student Innovator at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Seeks Brighter, Smarter, and More Efficient LEDs

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ARRA Grant to Help Fund Seminary Building Green Roof

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UC San Diego Installing 2.8 Megawatt Fuel Cell to Anchor Energy Innovation Park

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Monday November 01, 2010, 12:50 PM

Rensselaer Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center Announces First Deployment of New Technology on Campus

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Tuesday July 27, 2010, 10:30 AM

Texas Governor Announces $8.4 Million Award to Create Renewable Energy Institute

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A Real CAM-Do Attitude

Article ID: 673182

Released: 2017-04-18 14:05:08

Source Newsroom: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

  • Credit: ORNL

    This network shows the cross-species co-expression relationships between genes in Arabidopsis and Agave. Dark green nodes represent Agave genes, light green nodes represent Arabidopsis genes, blue edges represent positive co-expression relationships, and red edges represent negative co-expression relationships. The co-expression network was used in the paper to investigate the co-expression relationships of genes within the same gene family.

Photosynthesis, the method plants use to convert energy from the sun into food, is a ubiquitous process many people learn about in elementary school. Almost all plants use photosynthesis to gather energy and stay alive.

Not all photosynthetic processes are the same, though. In recent years, researchers have grown increasingly interested in desert plants’ preferred method of photosynthesis—crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM), a process named after the Crassulaceae family of plants, which include succulents like friendship plants, pig’s ears, and hens and chicks.

These plants caught researchers’ attention because of their seemingly opposite photosynthetic schedule, and understanding this process may be the genetic key to helping plants of all kinds conserve water. With a more fundamental understanding of CAM, scientists aim to help the plants upon which society relies for food and fuel become more drought resistant, thereby expanding the area where crops can grow and thrive.

“One of the benefits of CAM photosynthesis is water efficiency,” said Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) computational biologist Dan Jacobson, who is part of a multi-institutional team that recently published a CAM study in Nature Plants. “When you think of bioenergy and food crops, you want them to be able to tolerate drought stress or grow in areas that aren’t currently arable land. That means they have to be able to withstand some kind of environmental stress, most commonly drought stress. CAM species are very good at this.”

To that end, Jacobson works with a large group of experimentalists and computational scientists to more fully understand the CAM process. This cross-omics team (combining expertise in metabolomics, proteomics, and genomics) uses computing resources at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF)—a US Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility located at ORNL—to catalog how plants’ CAM processes vary and ultimately uncover how CAM processes may be genetically engineered into feed stock, food crops, and crops for bioenergy applications.

Shining a light on photosynthesis

When most people think of photosynthesis, they are actually thinking of a specific form, called C3 photosynthesis. This process follows the Calvin Cycle, in which plants capture light energy during the day and convert it into energy-bearing adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

ATP helps plants split water atoms into their hydrogen and oxygen constituent particles. Meanwhile, a C3 photosynthetic plant opens up small pores—called stomata—to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Then at night, the newly freed hydrogen particles combine with carbon dioxide absorbed during the day to create the carbohydrates plants use to live and grow.

CAM photosynthesis works the same way, but stomata open for respiration at night and stay tightly closed during the day, allowing plants to conserve more water. This helps plants like cactus and Agave survive in climates where water is scarce.

Less than 10 percent of known plant species use this specialized form of photosynthesis, but researchers hope that by understanding how CAM works, they can apply this water-saving method to other plants. To do that, though, researchers need to understand how molecules interact during CAM photosynthesis and how metabolites and proteins change over time.

Data-intensive design

In addition to simulating processes too dangerous or complex for experiments, supercomputers also help scientists make connections in vast amounts of data. For this project, researchers from ORNL, the University of Tennessee, Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, and the University of Nevada, Reno gathered photosynthesis data from Agave (a CAM plant) and compared it with the Arabidopsis genus of plants (C3 plants). To conduct a study between Agave and a C3 plant, the team selected the Arabidopsis genus plant thale cress, one of the first plants to have its genome sequenced and a good candidate for plant studies.

The team then studied what gene expressions control stomata opening and closing in both CAM and C3 plants and how proteins regulated this process. Collecting this data in both a common CAM and a C3 species allowed the team to distinguish traits ubiquitous to CAM plants from species-specific traits. However, finding these connections required a machine capable of comparing large data sets against themselves.

Jacobson and his collaborators used the OLCF’s Eos analysis cluster to run “all-versus-all” comparisons of the team’s data sets. These comparisons scan large data sets and compare each individual plant’s data with all others. This helps the team form relationships between the metabolic processes underpinning CAM in individual Agave specimens as well as the differences between Agave’s CAM properties from thale cress’s C3 properties.

“These all-against-all vector comparisons for correlation networks allowed us to look for different types of patterns and different times of day where the [gene expression] transcripts are correlated with each other, where they were correlated to proteins or metabolites, or times of the day where they shift dramatically,” Jacobson said.

The team members gained access to OLCF resources through the OLCF’s Director’s Discretionary program, and after familiarizing themselves with Titan’s hybrid architecture, they plan to expand research into other CAM species, comparing larger data sets and more fully cataloging CAM processes. “As we gain more knowledge from these various approaches, we hope to tease apart the underlying mechanisms for CAM and how it is regulated,” Jacobson said. “That starts to build toward having enough knowledge to deploy CAM in a new species.”

Jacobson also indicated that without access to high-performance computing, the team would not have been able to find these meaningful connections in a timely manner. “This is the first study looking at a cross-omics, time-course experiment to try and explore CAM at this molecular detail,” he said. “I think the ability to use supercomputing infrastructure enabled things that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. We were able to have a pretty big impact on the analysis of this work because of those resources.”

Related Publication: P. Abraham, H. Yin, A. Borland, D. Weighill, et al., “Transcript, Protein, and Metabolite Temporal Dynamics in the CAM Plant Agave.” Nature Plants 12, no. 2 (2016): 1–10, doi:10.1038/nplants.2016.178.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is supported by the US Department of Energy’s Office of Science. The single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, the Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.