Tag Archives: university of california at berkeley

Diamonds and Dust for Better Cement

Structural studies at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source could point to reduced carbon emissions and stronger cements

It’s no surprise that humans the world over use more water, by volume, than any other material. But in second place, at over 17 billion tons consumed each year, comes concrete made with Portland cement. Portland cement provides the essential binder for strong, versatile concrete; its basic materials are found in many places around the globe; and, at about $100 a ton, it’s relatively cheap. Making it, however, releases massive amounts of carbon dioxide, accounting for more than five percent of the total CO2 emissions from human activity.

“Portland cement is the most important building material in the world,” says Paulo Monteiro, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California at Berkeley, “but if we are going to find ways to use it more efficiently – or just as important, search for practical alternatives – we need a full understanding of its structure on the nanoscale.” To this end Monteiro has teamed with researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Light Source (ALS) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. (more…)

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Suzanne Alonzo: A Voice That Says ‘I Think You Can’

At one time or another, however briefly, many of the budding scientists Suzanne Alonzo works with in her laboratory or classroom have experienced a crisis of confidence — or, at the least, a bit of doubt about their academic path.

In these times, the associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology tries to be a voice of encouragement, even though says she knows she can’t take on her students’ challenges. (more…)

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Manufacturing Goes Viral

*Researchers coax viruses to assemble into synthetics with microstructures and properties akin to those of corneas, teeth and skin*

Using a simple, single-step process, engineers and scientists at the University of California at Berkeley recently developed a technique to direct benign, filamentous viruses called M13 phages to serve as structural building blocks for materials with a wide range of properties.

By controlling the physical environment alone, the researchers caused the viruses to self-assemble into hierarchically organized thin-film structures, with complexity that ranged from simple ridges, to wavy, chiral strands, to truly sophisticated patterns of overlapping strings of material–results that may also shed light on the self-assembly of biological tissues in nature. (more…)

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Berkeley Lab’s Saul Perlmutter wins Nobel Prize in Physics

BERKELEY, CA — Saul Perlmutter, an astrophysicist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a professor of physics at the University of California at Berkeley, has won the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics “for the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the universe through observations of distant supernovae.” Perlmutter heads the international Supernova Cosmology Project, which pioneered the methods used to discover the accelerating expansion of the universe, and he has been a leader in studies to determine the nature of dark energy.

Perlmutter shares the prize with Brian Schmidt and Adam Riess, leader of the High-z Supernova Search Team and first author of that team’s analysis, respectively, which led to their almost simultaneous announcement of accelerating expansion. (more…)

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