Feature Stories

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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
Students participate in hands-on experiments and demonstrations.
Celebrating Hispanic heritage month

Honoring famous Hispanics in science and technology—like Nobel Prize winners Luis Walter Alvarez and Severo Ochoa, or astronauts Franklin Chang-Diaz and Ellen Ochoa—Argonne National Laboratory hosts an education and outreach day each year as part of Hispanic Heritage Month.

October 4, 2011
A lost Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece may lie hidden behind this fresco in Florence's "Hall of 500". Photo courtesy Dave Yoder/National Geographic Society; to see more photos of the project, click on the photo.
Argonne scientist energizes quest for lost Leonardo da Vinci painting

Perhaps one of Leonardo da Vinci's greatest paintings has never been reprinted in books of his art. Known as the "Battle of Anghiari," it was abandoned and then lost—until a determined Italian engineer gave the art world hope that it still existed, and a physicist from Argonne National Laboratory developed a technique that may reveal it to the world once again.

September 28, 2011
A specialized piece of glass called a luminescent solar concentrator can intensify incoming light. The green and orange rings are produced by its fluorescence.
New solar cell technology gives light waves “amnesia”

For years, scientists have dealt with the problem of trying to increase the efficiency and drive down the cost of solar cells. Now researchers have hit upon a new idea—trying to give the light collected by solar cells a bit of "amnesia."

September 26, 2011
Argonne physicist Zheng-Tian Lu (in back) and his team (from left to right: Arjun Sharma, Wei Jiang, Kevin Bailey, and Guomin Yang) stand with the ATTA device, which measures individual atoms of the isotope Krypton-81 as part of an effort to model underground aquifers and predict how fast they refill.
Krypton-81 isotope can help map underground waterways

Cataloguing underground waterways, some of which extend for thousands of miles, has always been difficult—but scientists at Argonne National Laboratory are mapping them with some unusual equipment: lasers and a rare isotope.

September 20, 2011
“There’s a delicate balance you have to strike,” said Argonne physicist Byeongdu Lee, who led the characterization of the supraparticles using high-energy X-rays provided by Argonne’s Advanced Photon Source. “If the attractive Van der Waals force is too strong, all the nanoparticles will smash together at once, and you’ll end up with an ugly, disordered glass. But if the repulsive Coulomb force is too strong, they’ll never come together in the first place.”
A new way to go from nanoparticles to supraparticles

Controlling the behavior of nanoparticles can be just as difficult trying to wrangle a group of teenagers. However, a new study involving Argonne National Laboratory has given scientists insight into how tweaking a nanoparticle’s attractive electronic qualities can lead to the creation of ordered uniform “supraparticles.”

September 19, 2011
Argonne National Laboratory, working with Advanced Magnet Lab in Florida, has received an award to develop superconducting drive generators for windmills.
Powering wind energy with superconductivity

Advanced Magnet Lab, located in Palm Bay, Florida, is leading a project to develop the first fully superconducting direct-drive generator for large wind turbines with the goal of significantly reducing the cost of wind energy.

September 19, 2011
The structure of NDM-1 shows the protein's enlarged active site, which lets it latch onto and disable a broad range of antibiotics.
Decoding the proteins behind drug-resistant superbugs

Penicillin and its descendants once ruled supreme over bacteria. Then the bugs got stronger, and hospitals have reported bacterial infections so virulent that even powerful antibiotics held in reserve for these cases don't work.

September 15, 2011
Argonne researcher Sabine Gallagher loads a sample mount of battery cathode materials for X-ray diffraction.
New materials engineering labs see early success

After only a few months of work, a small group of researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory has successfully scaled up the production of a new molecule that protects advanced lithium-ion batteries from thermal overcharge.

September 13, 2011
Members of the team that helped the City of Chicago plan its response to pandemics and emergencies. (From left to right) Front row: Tom Baldwin, Dan Walsh and Ken Lerner. Back row: Ed Tanzman, Chris Kramer and Matt Berry. Not pictured: Kitty Lowey, Don Hanscom, Paul Hewett, Brett Hansard, Rebecca Feaster, Craig Sonnenfeld and Brian Dahlberg.
City of Chicago won't sweat the flu with Argonne's help

Emergency preparedness experts at Argonne National Laboratory have helped the Chicago department plan its response to potential catastrophe, including swine and bird flu epidemics, plague outbreaks and anthrax bioterrorism.

September 7, 2011