- Number 348 |
- October 17, 2011
By studying three layers of graphene — sheets of honeycomb-arrayed carbon atoms — stacked in a particular way, scientists at Brookhaven Lab have discovered a “little universe” populated by a new kind of “quasiparticles” — particle-like excitations of electric charge. Unlike massless photon-like quasiparticles in single-layer graphene, these new quasiparticles have mass, which depends on their energy (or velocity). In theory, these unique quasiparticles become infinitely massive at rest!
Many envision a day when raw materials such as wood chips and corn stalks are transformed into a high-quality commodity traded on the open market beside grain, coal and crude oil.
Scientists already know how to convert grass, stalks and straw into biofuels, but numerous challenges remain to develop biomass into an industrial-scale commodity that can significantly contribute to the nation’s fuel needs. That’s why the DOE's Idaho National Laboratory recently hosted a workshop with government, university and industry partners to forge a path forward.
Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory have genetically engineered "magnetic" algae to investigate alternative, more efficient harvesting and lipid extraction methods for biofuels. The researchers seek to reduce the cost of algae-based biofuel production.Currently, used algae-harvesting and lipid-extraction technology accounts for almost 30 percent of the total cost of algae-based biofuel production. By inducing paramagnetic properties in algae, a permanent magnet-based separation could provide a low-cost alternative to current technologies.
By combining high-throughput measurements of multiple biological molecules and computational tools, scientists at DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Oregon Health & Science University found many new proteins that appear to be involved in Salmonella virulence, the culprit in several high-profile food recalls. Several proteins were selected and demonstrated to be involved in virulence, the critical part of the microbe’s sophisticated offensive and defensive strategies. Virulence proteins are part of what makes food poisoning debilitating and difficult to combat.