Feature Stories

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This 3D structural model of the SemiSWEET protein was based on data collected at the NE-CAT beamline at Argonne’s Advanced Photon Source . The two colors (green and purple) represent two copies of the protein molecules that, when joined, function as a single unit to allow sugar molecules across the membrane. Credit: Feng et al. (Click image to enlarge)
X-rays unlock a protein’s SWEET side

Sugar is a vital source of energy for both plants and animals alike. Understanding just how sugar makes its way into the cell could lead to the design of better drugs for diabetes patients and an increase in the amount of fruits and vegetables farmers are able to grow. Stanford University researchers have recently uncovered one of these “pathways” into the cell by piecing together proteins slightly wider than the diameter of a strand of spider silk.

September 12, 2014
The Argonne Distinguished Fellow title is comparable in stature to an endowed chair at a top-ranked university and recognizes exceptional contributions in a person's field. The rank is given for sustained outstanding scientific and engineering research and can also be associated with outstanding technical leadership of major, complex, high-priority projects. (Click image to enlarge)
Argonne names Distinguished Fellows for 2014

Argonne has named scientists Paul Messina, Michael Borland, U. (Balu) Balachandran, and Yousry Gohar as Distinguished Fellows, the laboratory’s highest scientific and engineering rank.

September 9, 2014
The release of wastes associated with nuclear reprocessing from storage facilities into the underlying sediments and groundwater is an important environmental concern. Scientists working with two national laboratories have found evidence that iron-bearing minerals naturally abundant in some sediments can react with and immobilize contaminants such as technetium. Image courtesy Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory. Click to enlarge.
Iron-bearing minerals in sediments naturally reduce contaminant levels

The release of wastes associated with nuclear reprocessing from storage facilities into the underlying sediments and groundwater is an important environmental concern. Scientists working with two national laboratories have found evidence that iron-bearing minerals naturally abundant in some sediments can react with and immobilize contaminants such as technetium.

April 8, 2014
In a 3D structure of the protein, the binding site is shown in pink, representing a potential drug target. The green molecule shows binding of an antibiotic to the protein. Click to enlarge. Image courtesy of Wladek Minor.
Newly ID’d protein provides target for antibiotic-resistant hospital bacterium

Researchers have made inroads into tackling a bacterium that plagues hospitals and is highly resistant to most antibiotics. They determined the 3-D structure and likely function of a new protein in this common bacterium that attacks those with compromised immune systems

November 26, 2013
Andrey Elagin (left), postdoctoral scholar at the Enrico Fermi Institute at the University of Chicago, and Matthew Wetstein, the Grainger Postdoctoral Fellow at the Enrico Fermi Institute at the University of Chicago, adjust the optics in the Large Area Picosecond Photodetector testing facility. The facility uses extremely short laser pulses to precisely measure the time resolution of the photodetectors. Click to enlarge.
Collaboration between varied organizations develops larger, more precise photodetectors for the market

Scientific particle detectors, medical imaging devices and cargo scanners with higher resolutions and cheaper price tags could become a reality, thanks to a three-way collaboration between industry, universities and U.S. national laboratories.

November 5, 2013
The Tully Monster roved the warm, shallow seas that covered Illinois 300 million years ago. Click to enlarge.
High school students use nation’s top X-rays to study Illinois fossils

High school students learned to see fossils in a new light in an educational program that allowed students to work with both Illinois fossils and cutting-edge X-ray technology to gain experience in conducting science research.

October 2, 2013
Most people know the caddisfly as the artificial bug on fly fishing lures. Click to enlarge.
X-ray science taps bug biology to design better materials and reduce pollution

Bug spray, citronella candles, mosquito netting – most people will do anything they can to stay away from insects during the warmer months. But those creepy crawlers we try so hard to avoid may offer substantial solutions to some of life’s problems.

September 17, 2013
Scientists wanted to discover why some bird feathers look blue—without any blue pigments. Instead, X-rays at the Advanced Photon Source helped reveal they use tiny nanoscale-level structures on the feathers that only reflect light in the blue wavelength. 

The top image is what we see: a Plum-throated Cotinga.

The second image is what an electron microscope sees.
Electron microscopes shoot a beam of electrons at the feather and measure how they interact with them to get an image of the structure. But electron microscopes can only see down to the nanometer level. To go even further, to the atomic level, you need X-rays.

The bottom image is what the X-rays see. 
Scientists focus an X-ray beam on one tiny spot. When it hits, the photons scatter symmetrically around the beam (highlighted in different colors). Then they can piece together the scattering information to reconstruct how the feather’s atoms are arranged.

Collage by Vinod Saranathan (University of Oxford); X-ray scattering at the Advanced Photon Source; photo of Plum-throated Cotinga by Thomas Valqui. From V. Saranathan et al., J. R. Soc. Interface. ©2012 The Royal Society.
7 things you may not know about X-rays

At Argonne's massive synchrotron, X-rays are used for a lot more than checking for broken bones.

September 13, 2013
How your smartphone got so smart

The breakthroughs that let you fit a computer in your pocket, and where we're going from here.

September 13, 2013
Scientists created this image of a G-protein-coupled receptor perched on a cell membrane. They used the Advanced Photon Source to capturing the elusive receptor, an extremely common drug target, and earned themselves a Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Image by Kobilka et. al, Nature 447, 549 (2011).
Argonne X-rays point way to Nobel Prize, better medicine

You may not know what research earned the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. But chances are that it will impact your life or that of someone you know.

September 13, 2013