Alternatives to the current lithium-ion-based car batteries are at the forefront of the automotive industry’s research agenda—manufacturers want to build cars with longer battery life, and to do that they’re going to have to find new solutions. One promising battery material is magnesium (Mg)—it is more dense than lithium, it is safer, and the magnesium ion carries a two-electron charge, giving it potential as a more efficient energy source. Magnesium has a high volumetric capacity, which could mean more battery power in a smaller space. However, to bring Mg batteries to the commercial market, researchers must create new electrolytes with improved properties. The x-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) facilities at the ALS are vital to understanding the interfaces and active species in Mg batteries.
Understanding “whisker” growth—the spontaneous growth of long filament-like grains on the leads, or “legs,” of electronic components—is key to manufacturing reliable lead-free electrical and electronic equipment. Cisco Systems, one of the world’s largest networking equipment producers, has provided funding and technical support to a group of ALS users from Purdue University to research the mechanism and driving forces for whiskers, with the ultimate goal of defining effective mitigation measures.
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With an increased demand for sustainable structures and efficient material use, the building industry is always looking for ways to extend their resources. Wood composites offer an opportunity to do this, saving building costs and in some cases increasing strength and durability. Researchers have used data gathered at the ALS to build a predictive computer simulation model that will provide insight into how certain wood species and adhesive types will interact. Technological advances are contributing to stronger, environmentally friendly composite materials that can be used in wood products such as furniture components or building materials.
LBNL senior materials scientist and UC Berkeley professor Rob Ritchie has been researching the fracture behavior of a wide array of materials for the past 40 years, the last ten of them using the facilities at the ALS. From human bone to synthetic engineering materials such as shape-memory metals and composites, Ritchie has illuminated groundbreaking cracking patterns and the underlying mechanistic processes using the x-ray synchrotron micro-tomography at ALS Beamline 8.3.2.
The Silicon Valley Leadership Group hosted a meeting to introduce its members to the area’s light sources and how they help advance innovation and promote economic competitiveness. The event was sponsored by Congresswomen Zoe Lofgren and Anna Eshoo together with Berkeley Lab (LBNL) and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. ... Read more »
Steve Harris has worked for U.S. auto manufacturers for the past 30 years as a research scientist, testing and investigating various promising materials and technologies. As a result, Harris knows a thing or two about what the industry values. Harris is now at the ALS as a visiting scientist, sharing his insight and knowledge with ALS staff scientists working on battery research. Their results could help drive the future of battery-powered transportation in this country.
Last year, drug discovery company Plexxikon made front-page news with its highly successful anti-cancer drug, Zelboraf, a product that was chemically optimized using data from ALS x-rays. Designed to disrupt malignant melanoma, the drug was so successful in human testing that trials were halted so that patients in the trial could all be given Zelboraf. Zelboraf marked a significant advancement for patients with metastatic melanoma who historically have had very limited treatment options.
ALS user Andrew McElrone’s research on grapevine rootstock water transport physiology is key to the future of California’s grape-growing industry. The plant biologist’s ultimate goal is to develop sustainable water use strategies for growers, giving them hard data about how much drought their plants can sustain and which species are ideal for an agricultural future with an uncertain water supply.