Formation of a Photovoltaic Material from Precursor to Crystal (8/18/2017) - Lead halide perovskites have emerged as high-performance photovoltaic materials, demonstrating remarkably rapid improvements in efficiency. In situ printing and time-resolved x-ray characterization have provided new insights into the relationship between device efficiency, perovskite crystallinity, and film morphology.
Subsurface Oxygen Boosts Activity of Copper Catalysts (8/18/2017) - Scientists are seeking ways to reduce levels of CO2 in the atmosphere by improving the processes that convert CO2 gas into ethanol (a liquid fuel). But copper, the best catalyst for this process, is not very efficient. Now, ambient-pressure x-ray experiments have revealed how subsurface oxygen boosts copper's catalytic activity.
In Situ Electrical Resistance and X-Ray Tomography Study of Copper–Tin Polymer Composites during Thermal Annealing (8/11/2017) - In situ electrical conductivity and x-ray tomography experiments were conducted on a conductive polymer composite containing polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) copolymer, copper (Cu), and tin (Sn) during thermal annealing. This study provides detailed insight into the morphological origins of the beneficial effect of thermal annealing on the electrical properties of conductive composites containing low melting metal fillers.
A Bacterial Jigsaw Puzzle Is Solved (8/11/2017) - Bacterial microcompartments (BMCs) are hollow protein shells that encapsulate enzymes involved in bacterial metabolism. Crystallography studies have provided atomic-resolution views of a fully assembled BMC, revealing basic principles of shell construction for fighting pathogens or bioengineering applications.
Hybrid LED Phosphors Combine Performance and Durability (8/1/2017) - Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) last a long time and are very energy efficient. However, white LEDs currently rely on phosphor materials doped with rare-earth elements (REEs) that are increasingly costly and in short supply. A new class of hybrid phosphor materials shows promise as REE-free alternatives.
The Ancient Roman Secret to Concrete Resilience in Seawater (7/24/2017) - Researchers used x-ray microdiffraction to trace the complex sequences of crystal growth in concrete from ancient Roman pier and breakwater sites. The results indicate that minerals continue to form over millennia as seawater percolates through, reinforcing the cementing matrix in a kind of regenerative process.
Structure of a Key Protein from the Zika Virus (7/21/2017) - The Zika virus (ZIKV) is a mosquito-borne pathogen recently linked to birth defects in infants. At the ALS, researchers have resolved the structure of a key ZIKV protein to 3.0 Å, an important step toward the rational design of drugs capable of disrupting viral functions and halting the spread of the disease.
A Multifunctional Material with Electric-Field Control (7/14/2017) - Three distinct crystalline phases with different electronic, magnetic, and optical properties were reversibly induced in a material through the insertion and extraction of ions by an electric field at room temperature. Such multifunctional materials are desirable for many applications, from smart windows to spintronics.
A Closer Look at Dynamic Restructuring in Catalysts (6/26/2017) - Researchers have structurally and chemically "visualized" the surface of a silver–gold alloy as it reorganizes itself during catalytic activation. The insights gained from this methodology can lead to improved catalysts for energy-intensive industrial applications, thereby increasing efficiency and reducing waste.
ALS Gives Intel a Closer Look at Microelectronic Packages (6/26/2017) - Intel, the world's largest semiconductor chip maker, has been using the tomography capabilities at the ALS to image their microelectronic packages in 3D at high resolution with short throughput time, providing valuable information for both failure analysis and product development and proving that synchrotrons are an insightful tool for this type of imaging.