Feature Stories

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Electrons in a grid pattern. Image courtesy of the University of Pittsburgh.
Materials scientists watch electrons "melt"

When a skier rushes down a ski slope or a skater glides across an ice rink, a very thin melted layer of liquid water forms on the surface of the ice crystals, which allows for a smooth glide instead of a rough skid. In a recent experiment, scientists have discovered that the interface between the surface and bulk electronic structures of certain crystalline materials can act in much the same way.

November 21, 2011
Staphylococcus aureus is a well-known microbe, but millions of others lurk in every nook and cranny on Earth. (Image courtesy of Beltsville Agricultural Research Center.)
Earth Microbiome Project to catalogue world’s microbes

An initiative called the Earth Microbiome Project, led by Jack Gilbert at Argonne National Laboratory and including scientists all over the world, is tackling the massive task of cataloguing the DNA of all microbes. The knowledge could potentially one day help us understand climate change, increase world food production and even avoid unnecessary surgeries.

November 9, 2011
The Chicago Humanities Festival, which began in 1989, creates opportunities for people of all ages to support, enjoy and explore the humanities. The Liz Lerman Dance Exchange rehearses "The Matter of Origins" for CHF.
Image courtesy of Jaclyn Borowski/ The Diamondback and the Chicago Humanities Festival.
Science to be featured at Chicago Humanities Festival

At humanities festivals, physics and chemistry typically get left off the menu in favor of poetry and philosophy, but not at this year's Chicago Humanities Festival.

November 7, 2011
Argonne nanoscientist Tijana Rajh holds a strip of material created from titanium dioxide nanotubes.
Batteries get a quick charge with new anode technology

A breakthrough in components for next-generation batteries could come from special materials that transform their structure to perform better over time.

November 2, 2011
Hurricane Irene from the MODIS instrument aboard NASA's Terra satellite was taken at August 26 at 12:30 p.m. EDT, when Hurricane Irene was off the Carolinas.
Forecasting the fallout from natural disasters

When Hurricane Irene barreled up the East Coast this August, forecasters had a pretty good idea of the track the storm would take, along with its expected wind, rain and storm surge. Determining how the storm's meteorological force would impact the Eastern Seaboard's energy system and other critical infrastructure, however, required additional analysis.

October 31, 2011
Argonne chemist Christopher Johnson holds a sodium-ion cathode.
Making sodium-ion batteries that are worth their salt

Sodium-ion technology possesses a number of benefits that lithium-based energy storage cannot capture, explained Argonne chemist Christopher Johnson, who is leading an effort to improve the performance of ambient-temperature sodium-based batteries.

October 24, 2011
Argonne scientists Artem Guelis (right) and Kevin Nichols test their miniaturized apparatus for nuclear recycling research.
Miniaturizing nuclear recycling experiments

Designing better ways to recycle spent nuclear fuel could make nuclear energy a safer solution to the global energy problem, but there are a lot of gaps in our chemical knowledge—and it's difficult to get those answers when the experiments involve radioactive material. Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory have one answer: Shrink the whole experiment down—to microliters.

October 19, 2011
Argonne awarded $1.9 million for hydropower study
Argonne awarded $1.9 million for hydropower study

New life has been pumped into the study and modeling of hydropower storage plants, thanks to a new $1.9 million Department of Energy grant awarded to a project led by Argonne National Laboratory.

October 17, 2011
There are thousands of E. coli strains, but programs like the Argonne-developed RAST can help researchers make sense of a particular strain's genome. Photo credit Eric Erbe, digital colorization by Christopher Pooley, both of USDA, ARS, EMU.
Cloud computing and Argonne program help decode German E. coli strain

When a nasty strain of E. coli flooded hospitals in Germany this summer, it struck its victims with life-threatening complications far more often than most strains—and the search for explanation began. Thanks to a unique Argonne-developed computer program and cloud computing testbed, researchers mapped the strain's genes—and came a little closer to understanding the bacterium's secrets.

October 15, 2011
Earthquake damage on a road in Japan, photographed by members of the RAP team measuring the radiation released from the Fukushima Daiichi reactors.
Argonne team helps map Fukushima radiation release

When the reactors at Fukushima Daiichi began to emit radioactive material, the Department of Energy’s national emergency response assets, including several Radiological Assistance Program (RAP) teams, responded to calls from both the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. military.

October 10, 2011