Tag Archives: lawrence berkeley national laboratory

Depleted Gas Reservoirs Can Double as Geologic Carbon Storage Sites

*Berkeley Lab scientists help verify science behind geologic carbon sequestration*

A demonstration project on the southeastern tip of Australia has helped to verify that depleted natural gas reservoirs can be repurposed for geologic carbon sequestration, which is a climate change mitigation strategy that involves pumping CO2 deep underground for permanent storage.

The project, which includes scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), also demonstrated that depleted gas fields have enough CO2 storage capacity to make a significant contribution to reducing global emissions. (more…)

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New Take on Impacts of Low Dose Radiation

*Berkeley Lab Researchers Find Evidence Suggesting Risk May Not Be Proportional to Dose at Low Dose Levels*

Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), through a combination of time-lapse live imaging and mathematical modeling of a special line of human breast cells, have found evidence to suggest that for low dose levels of ionizing radiation, cancer risks may not be directly proportional to dose. This contradicts the standard model for predicting biological damage from ionizing radiation – the linear-no-threshold hypothesis or LNT – which holds that risk is directly proportional to dose at all levels of irradiation.

“Our data show that at lower doses of ionizing radiation, DNA repair mechanisms work much better than at higher doses,” says Mina Bissell, a world-renowned breast cancer researcher with Berkeley Lab’s Life Sciences Division. “This non-linear DNA damage response casts doubt on the general assumption that any amount of ionizing radiation is harmful and additive.” (more…)

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Nanocrystals Go Bare: Berkeley Lab Researchers Strip Material’s Tiny Tethers

Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have discovered a universal technique for stripping nanocrystals of tether-like molecules that until now have posed as obstacles for their integration into devices. These findings could provide scientists with a clean slate for developing new nanocrystal-based technologies for energy storage, photovoltaics, smart windows, solar fuels and light-emitting diodes.

Nanocrystals are typically prepared in a chemical solution using stringy molecules called ligands chemically tethered to their surface. These hydrocarbon-based or organometallic molecules help stabilize the nanocrystal, but also form an undesirable insulating shell around the structure. Efficient and clean removal of these surface ligands is challenging and has eluded researchers for decades. (more…)

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Berkeley Lab Researchers Create First of Its Kind Gene Map of Sulfate-reducing Bacterium: Work Holds Implications for Future Bioremediation Efforts

Critical genetic secrets of a bacterium that holds potential for removing toxic and radioactive waste from the environment have been revealed in a study by researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). The researchers have provided the first ever map of the genes that determine how these bacteria interact with their surrounding environment.

“Knowing how bacteria respond to environmental changes is crucial to our understanding of how their physiology tracks with consequences that are both good, such as bioremediation, and bad, such as biofouling,” says Aindrila Mukhopadhyay, a chemist with Berkeley Lab’s Physical Biosciences Division, who led this research. “We have reported the first systematic mapping of the genes in a sulfate-reducing bacterium – Desulfovibrio vulgaris – that regulate the mechanisms by which the bacteria perceive and respond to environmental signals.” (more…)

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Supercomputers Accelerate Development of Advanced Materials

*Berkeley Lab helps develop a Google-like search engine for materials research.*

New materials are crucial to building a clean energy economy—for everything from batteries to photovoltaics to lighter weight vehicles—but today the development cycle is too slow: around18 years from conception to commercialization. To speed up this process, a team of researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) teamed up to develop a new tool, called the Materials Project, which launches this month.

“Our vision is for this tool to become a dynamic ‘Google’ of material properties, which continually grows and changes as more users come on board to analyze the results, verify against experiments and increase their knowledge,” says Kristin Persson, a Berkeley Lab chemist and one of the founding scientists behind the Materials Project. “So many scientists can benefit from this type of screening. Considering the demand for innovative clean energy technology we needed most of these materials yesterday.” (more…)

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Berkeley Lab to Build Cost Model for Fuel Cells

*A $2-million award from DOE will help bring down the cost of next-generation fuel cells.*

Fuel cells seem like an ideal energy source—they’re clean, efficient, silent and don’t require transmission lines. The hitch? They can be costly. Now scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) hope to change that equation by building a sophisticated cost model that will take into account the total cost of ownership.

With a $2-million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, a team of scientists led by Eric Masanet will perform a detailed assessment of fuel cell design and manufacturing that takes into account both intrinsic and external benefits. The aim is to quantify not only traditional manufacturing costs but also benefits that may previously have been overlooked and may ultimately bring down the cost of fuel cells. (more…)

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Berkeley Lab Scientists Develop New Tool for the Study of Spatial Patterns in Living Cells

*Golden Membranes Pave the Way for a Better Understanding of Cancer and the Immune System*

Football has often been called “a game of inches,” but biology is a game of nanometers, where spatial differences of only a few nanometers can determine the fate of a cell – whether it lives or dies, remains normal or turns cancerous. Scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have developed a new and better way to study the impact of spatial patterns on living cells.

Berkeley Lab chemist Jay Groves led a study in which artificial membranes made up of a fluid bilayer of lipid molecules were embedded with fixed arrays of gold nanoparticles to control the spacing of proteins and other cellular molecules placed on the membranes. This provided the researchers with an unprecedented opportunity to study how the spatial patterns of chemical and physical properties on membrane surfaces influence the behavior of cells. (more…)

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Shaken, not Stirred: Berkeley Lab Scientists Spy Molecular Maneuvers

Stir this clear liquid in a glass vial and nothing happens. Shake this liquid, and free-floating sheets of protein-like structures emerge, ready to detect molecules or catalyze a reaction. This isn’t the latest gadget from James Bond’s arsenal—rather, the latest research from the U. S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) scientists unveiling how slim sheets of protein-like structures self-assemble. This “shaken, not stirred” mechanism provides a way to scale up production of these two-dimensional nanosheets for a wide range of applications, such as platforms for sensing, filtration and templating growth of other nanostructures.

“Our findings tell us how to engineer two-dimensional, biomimetic materials with atomic precision in water,” said Ron Zuckermann, Director of the Biological Nanostructures Facility at the Molecular Foundry, a DOE nanoscience user facility at Berkeley Lab. “What’s more, we can produce these materials for specific applications, such as a platform for sensing molecules or a membrane for filtration.” (more…)

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