Feature Stories

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The SCU installed at the straight section of Sector 6 of the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory. To view a larger version of the photo, click on it.

Photo courtesy Argonne National Laboratory.
First light from the first high-energy superconducting undulator

More than eight years of effort by Advanced Photon Source physicists, engineers, and technicians culminated on Jan. 21, 2013, with the production of the first X-rays from the prototype of a novel superconducting undulator.

February 1, 2013
A look at the structure of the HNF-4A protein, which plays a critical role by binding to specific DNA sequences and regulating the production of a number of key proteins for normal cellular processes. To view a larger version of the image, click on it.
Argonne researchers uncover structure of new protein implicated in diabetes

Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory, in collaboration with researchers from the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, recently determined and analyzed the three-dimensional structure of a protein found in the nuclei of liver and pancreatic cells.

April 4, 2013
An international team of scientists using Argonne's Advanced Photon Source (above) has devised a way to overcome the distortion caused by sample environments used with the X-rays to improve spatial resolution imaging by two orders of magnitude. To view a larger version of the image, click on it.
High-pressure imaging breakthrough a boon for nanotechnology

The study of nanoscale material just got much easier, and the design of nanoscale technology could get much more efficient, thanks to an advance in X-ray analysis.

April 9, 2013
Illustration of the nano-layer at the liquid interface between the salt solution and mercury. Physicists from Kiel University discovered the formation of an ordered crystal of exactly five atomic layers between the two liquids with brilliant X-rays. To view a larger version of the image, click on it. Image courtesy Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel.
Nanocrystals grow from liquid interface

An international collaboration of scientists has discovered a unique crystalizing behavior at the interface between two immiscible liquids that could aid in sustainable energy development.

May 16, 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
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 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
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
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
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