Feature Stories

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Panagiotis Prezas examines a battery cell in Argonne's Electrochemical Analysis and Diagnostics Lab, where scientists test batteries' life cycles and calendar lives.
The search for a superbattery

Imagine if you only had to plug in your phone once a week. Or your laptop lasted days between charges. Or an affordable electric car that ran for more than 200 miles on a single battery charge.

July 1, 2012
When coated with ultrananocrystalline diamond, these pump seals use less energy during pumping.
Argonne in the marketplace: Ultrananocrystalline diamond

Even as royalty set diamonds into crowns and rings, engineers lusted after the gems for different reasons: diamonds are stronger than any other natural material and are excellent electrical insulators and heat conductors. A technique invented at Argonne National Laboratory creates thin films of diamond with grains so small they're called ultrananocrystalline diamond films

July 1, 2012
Bhoopesh Mishra works on the MRCAT/EnviroCAT X-ray beam line at the Advanced Photon Source.
X-ray technology spotlights new way to contain mercury contamination, protect fish

Mercury contamination is a global problem, and when it finds its way into the water, it very, very rapidly makes its way up the food chain from small fish to large fish to our dinner tables. To cut back on this contamination, Bhoopesh Mishra and fellow scientists from Argonne’s Biosciences Division identified the previously unknown process by which bacterium immobilizes toxic mercury in soil.

June 27, 2012
Frances Dozier conducts research on recycling used nuclear fuel in a glovebox at Argonne National Laboratory.
Nuclear fuel recycling could offer plentiful energy

Currently, only about five percent of the uranium in a fuel rod gets fissioned for energy; after that, the rods are taken out of the reactor and put into permanent storage. Recycling used nuclear fuel could produce hundreds of years of energy from just the uranium we’ve already mined, all of it carbon-free, and new techniques developed by scientists at Argonne address many of those issues.

June 22, 2012
Improvements in the efficiencies of organic solar cells will eventually make them competitive with traditional silicon-based solar cells and, hopefully, ultimately with fossil fuels.
Catching some rays: Organic solar cells make a leap forward

Drawn together by the force of nature, but pulled apart by the force of man – it sounds like the setting for a love story, but it is also a basic description of how scientists have begun to make more efficient organic solar cells.

June 13, 2012
This image shows channels etched using sequential infiltration synthesis, which scientists at Argonne have used to create features that have high aspect ratios – that is, they are far deeper than wide.  These crevasses will permit the creation of a new generation of semiconducting materials.
New nanomaterials method answers tough challenges

When searching for the technology to boost computer speeds and improve memory density, the best things come in the smallest packages.

June 8, 2012
As Deputy Laboratory Director for Programs, Mark Peters leads the development of the long- and short-term strategic plan for Argonne National Laboratory's science and technology mission.
Peters testifies before Congress

Argonne Deputy Director for Programs Mark Peters testified today before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific during the hearing "What's Next for the U.S.-Korea Alliance".

June 6, 2012
Quantum physics and plant biology seem like two branches of science that could not be more different, but surprisingly they may in fact be intimately tied.
Scientists uncover a photosynthetic puzzle

Quantum physics and plant biology seem like two branches of science that could not be more different, but surprisingly they may in fact be intimately tied.

Researchers at Argonne and the Notre Dame Radiation Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame used ultrafast spectroscopy to see what happens at the subatomic level during the very first stage of photosynthesis.

May 21, 2012
The "filling problem," seeks the best way to cover the inside of an object with a particular shape, such as filling a triangle with discs of varying sizes. Image courtesy of the University of Michigan.
New twist on ancient math problem could improve medicine, microelectronics

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—A hidden facet of a math problem that goes back to Sanskrit scrolls has just been exposed by nanotechnology researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of Connecticut.

May 14, 2012
In order to cut down on the enormous quantities of water required to operate steam generators at large power stations in the United States, scientists have begun to look for new technologies that could improve their efficiency and reduce the demand for water.
New nanoparticle technology cuts water use, energy costs

Nuclear and coal power plants are some of the thirstiest machines on earth. The turbines that spin inside of them to generate electricity require tons and tons of steam, and all of that water has to come from somewhere.

Recent studies have estimated that roughly two-fifths of the nation’s freshwater withdrawals and three percent of overall freshwater consumption goes to supplying the steam generators at large power stations in the United States. In order to cut down on the enormous quantities of water required to operate these plants, scientists have begun to look for new technologies that could improve their efficiency and reduce the demand for water.

April 11, 2012