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New Studies of Ancient Concrete Could Teach Us to Do as the Romans Did

A new look inside 2,000-year-old concrete – made from volcanic ash, lime, and seawater – has provided new clues to the evolving chemistry and mineral cements that allow ancient harbor structures to withstand the test of time.

Researchers ID New Mechanism for Keeping DNA Protein in Line

Electrostatic forces known as phosphate steering help guide the actions of an enzyme called FEN1 that is critical in DNA replication and repair, finds a new study led by Berkeley Lab researchers. The findings help explain how FEN1 distinguishes which strands of DNA to target, revealing key details about a vital process in healthy cells as well as providing new directions for cancer treatment research.

What’s On Your Skin? Archaea, That’s What

It turns out your skin is crawling with single-celled microorganisms – and they’re not just bacteria. A study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Medical University of Graz has found that the skin microbiome also contains archaea, a type of extreme-loving microbe, and that the amount of it varies with age.

Could This Strategy Bring High-Speed Communications to the Deep Sea?

Berkeley Lab researchers are proposing a new method for sending acoustic waves through water that could dramatically increase communication speeds for scuba divers, deep sea robots, and remote ocean monitors. By taking advantage of the dynamic rotation generated as waves travel, the researchers were able to pack more channels onto a single frequency, effectively increasing the amount of information capable of being transmitted.

New Class of ‘Soft’ Semiconductors Could Transform HD Displays

New research by Berkeley Lab scientists could help usher in a new generation of high-definition displays, optoelectronic devices, photodetectors, and more. They have shown that a class of “soft” semiconductors can be used to emit multiple, bright colors from a single nanowire at resolutions as small as 500 nanometers. The work could challenge quantum dot displays that rely upon traditional semiconductor nanocrystals to emit light.

2-D Material’s Traits Could Send Electronics R&D Spinning in New Directions

Researchers created an atomically thin material at Berkeley Lab and used X-rays to measure its exotic and durable properties that make it a promising candidate for a budding branch of electronics known as “spintronics.”

Study Sheds Light on How Bacterial Organelles Assemble

Scientists at Berkeley Lab and Michigan State University are providing the clearest view yet of an intact bacterial microcompartment, revealing at atomic-level resolution the structure and assembly of the organelle’s protein shell. This work could benefit research in bioenergy and pathogenesis, and it could lead to new methods of bioengineering bacteria for beneficial purposes.

A Seaweed Derivative Could Be Just What Lithium-Sulfur Batteries Need

Lithium-sulfur batteries have great potential as a low-cost, high-energy, energy source for both vehicle and grid applications. However, they suffer from significant capacity fading. Now scientists from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have made a surprising discovery that could fix this problem.

Researchers Find a Surprise Just Beneath the Surface in Carbon Dioxide Experiment

X-ray experiments at Berkeley Lab, coupled with theoretical work, revealed how oxygen atoms embedded very near the surface of a copper sample had a more dramatic effect on the early stages of a reaction with carbon dioxide than earlier theories could account for. This work could prove useful in designing new types of materials to make reactions more efficient in converting carbon dioxide into liquid fuels and other products.

How X-rays Helped to Solve Mystery of Floating Rocks

Experiments at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source have helped scientists to solve a mystery of why some rocks can float for years in the ocean, traveling thousands of miles before sinking.