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Ribosome Research Takes Shape at SLAC

In a new state-of-the-art lab at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, components of ribosomes – tiny biological machines that make new proteins and play a vital role in gene expression and antibiotic treatments – form crystals in a liquid solution.

Signs at the lab's entryway warn of the potential for contamination – these delicate samples can be damaged by human touch, a sneeze or a dust particle.

The Universe Through Fermi's Eyes

On June 11, 2008, what was then the Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope rode a Delta II rocket into low-Earth orbit. After two months of tests and checks and calibrations, on August 11, 2008, NASA declared GLAST open for business as astrophysics' premier eye on the gamma-ray sky. Five years, a name change, a near miss with a defunct Soviet spy satellite, and countless surprises later, the spacecraft now known as the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope is still going strong, with another five-year mission stretching ahead of it.

Designer Glue Improves Lithium-ion Battery Life

When it comes to improving the performance of lithium-ion batteries, no part should be overlooked – not even the glue that binds materials together in the cathode, researchers at SLAC and Stanford have found.

New Analysis Shows How Proteins Shift Into Working Mode

In an advance that will help scientists design and engineer proteins, a team including researchers from SLAC and Stanford has found a way to identify how protein molecules flex into specific atomic arrangements required to catalyze chemical reactions essential for life.

A New Tool to Split X-ray Laser Pulses

A new tool at SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source splits individual X-ray laser pulses into two pulses that can hit a target one right after another with precisely controlled timing, allowing scientists to trigger and measure specific ultrafast changes in atoms and molecules.

New Test Bed Probes the Origin of Pulses at LCLS

It all comes down to one tiny spot on a diamond-cut, highly pure copper plate. That's where every X-ray laser pulse at SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source gets its start. That tiny spot must be close to perfect or it can impair and even halt LCLS operations.

SLAC in May 2013 opened a new test facility at the Accelerator Structure Test Area (ASTA) to study the complex physics and chemistry that cause that shiny copper slab, called a cathode, to degrade over time, and to identify ways to maintain and improve its performance.

Research Paints New Picture of 'Dinobird' Feathers

The first complete chemical analysis of feathers from Archaeopteryx, a famous fossil linking dinosaurs and birds, reveals that the feathers were patterned—light in color, with a dark edge and tip—rather than all black, as previously thought.

SLAC X-rays Resurrect 200-year-old Opera

At first glance the beautifully bound 1797 Luigi Cherubini opera Médée looks like an impeccably preserved relic of opera's golden age. However, flip to the final pages of the aria "Du trouble affreux qui me dévore" ("The terrible disorder that consumes me") and you see the problem: Thick smudges of carbon completely black out the closing lines.

Printing Innovations Provide 10-fold Improvement in Organic Electronics

Through innovations to a printing process, researchers have made major improvements to organic electronics – a technology in demand for lightweight, low-cost solar cells, flexible electronic displays and tiny sensors. The printing method is fast and works with a variety of organic materials to produce semiconductors of strikingly higher quality than what has so far been achieved with similar methods.

X-ray Laser Brings Gold Exploration to the Nanoscale

Pushing gold exploration to the nanoscale, scientists used SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source X-ray laser to produce a series of 3-D images that detail a ringing effect in tiny gold crystals. The technique provides a unique window for studying why smaller is better for some specialized materials, including those used in chemical reactions and electronic components, for example.

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