Nav: Home

Berkeley Lab science snapshots April 2019

April 29, 2019

When there are multiple factors at play in a situation that is itself changing, such as an El Nino winter in a changing climate, how can scientists figure out what is causing what? Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have developed an advanced statistical method for quantifying and visualizing changes in environmental systems and easily picking out the driving factor.

In a new study published in the journal Climate Dynamics, they used their new technique to look at California winters. "A lot of people will describe a winter by how rainy or how cold it was," said lead author John P. O'Brien, a graduate student research assistant at Berkeley Lab. "Instead of asking each question individually, what we're doing is interrogating both at the same time as a function of some large-scale climate forcing, such as El Nino."

The new method allows researchers to account for variables whose statistics change over time - in this case, changes caused by El Nino/La Nina. They found that in northern California, La Nina and El Nino conditions result in nearly equivalent amounts of winter precipitation. However, La Nina winters tend to be much colder, resulting in conditions more favorable for increased mountain snowpack. So from a summer water supply perspective, contrary to common belief, La Nina winters may in fact be preferable to El Nino winters. The same, however, did not hold true for southern California.

Read more about the CASCADE Scientific Focus Area here.

Unique Synthetic Antibodies Show Promise for Improved Disease and Toxin Detection

Scientists have invented a new "synthetic antibody" that could make screening for diseases easier and less expensive than current go-to methods. Writing in the journal Nano Letters, a team led by Markita Landry of Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley describes how peptoids - synthetically produced molecules, first created by Ron Zuckermann at Berkeley Lab's Molecular Foundry, that are similar to protein-building peptides - and tiny cylinders of carbon atoms known as single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) can be combined to selectively bind a target protein.

The resulting nanoparticle assembly fluoresces under near-infrared fluorescence microscopy, thus allowing for target protein quantification just like a biologically derived antibody.

The researchers demonstrated that their peptoid-SWNT assemblies remain stably bound to their target when tested in samples with a wide range of pH, salt concentrations, and temperatures; and when exposed to various protein-digesting enzymes - conditions no conventional antibodies could be expected to function in.

"This new platform encourages us to look to synthetic chemistry and nanomaterials science to create molecules that bind biological markers for diseases like cancer or viral infections," said Landry. "The stability of purely synthetic recognition elements could facilitate easier disease diagnosis. They could also have safety applications by detecting hazardous chemicals in water or food."

Exploring New Ways to Control Thermal Radiation

Planck's Law, which describes electromagnetic radiation from heated bodies, forms the basis of quantum theory. However, with the advent of micro- and nanotechnology, it is easy to fabricate materials where Planck's Law will not hold.

In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers at Berkeley Lab set out to explore how deviations from Planck's Law could impact energy-related technologies based on nano- and micro-structured geometries.

"Nobody has explored the relative behavior of nano-geometries, particularly anisotropic nano-geometries--nanostructures that are rectangular in cross-section--in this way," said Ravi Prasher, one of the authors.

Imagine a thermal storage material that converts electricity to heat and then radiates it to a photovoltaic cell to get the electricity back when desired. The radiative emitter from the thermal storage could be made from nanostructures to maximize the performance.

The team of researchers from Berkeley Lab and UC San Diego used the radiation models available at Berkeley Lab's Molecular Foundry to model the thermal radiation from rectangular nanoribbons of silica glass, a polar dielectric material. Practical applications for this early-stage energy conversion are important for many renewable energy applications, such as concentrated solar electricity production, water desalination, thermochemical reactions, water heating, and thermal storage.

Read the full story here.

DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Related Quantum Theory Articles:

USTC realizes the first quantum-entangling-measurements-enhanced quantum orienteering
Researchers enhanced the performance of quantum orienteering with entangling measurements via photonic quantum walks.
A convex-optimization-based quantum process tomography method for reconstructing quantum channels
Researchers from SJTU have developed a convex-optimization-based quantum process tomography method for reconstructing quantum channels, and have shown the validity to seawater channels and general channels, enabling a more precise and robust estimation of the elements of the process matrix with less demands on preliminary resources.
What a pair! Coupled quantum dots may offer a new way to store quantum information
Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and their colleagues have for the first time created and imaged a novel pair of quantum dots -- tiny islands of confined electric charge that act like interacting artificial atoms.
Quantum physics: On the way to quantum networks
Physicists at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich, together with colleagues at Saarland University, have successfully demonstrated the transport of an entangled state between an atom and a photon via an optic fiber over a distance of up to 20 km -- thus setting a new record.
In leap for quantum computing, silicon quantum bits establish a long-distance relationship
In an important step forward in the quest to build a quantum computer using silicon-based hardware, researchers at Princeton have succeeded in making possible the exchange of information between two qubits located relatively far apart -- about the length of a grain of rice, which is a considerable distance on a computer chip.
A new quantum data classification protocol brings us nearer to a future 'quantum internet'
A new protocol created by researchers at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona sorts and classifies quantum data by the state in which they were prepared, with more efficiency than the equivalent classical algorithm.
'Poor man's qubit' can solve quantum problems without going quantum
Researchers have built and demonstrated the first hardware for a probabilistic computer, a possible way to bridge the gap between classical and quantum computing.
Towards an 'orrery' for quantum gauge theory
Physicists at ETH Zurich have developed a new approach to couple quantized gauge fields to ultracold matter.
Quantum computers to clarify the connection between the quantum and classical worlds
Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists have developed a new quantum computing algorithm that offers a clearer understanding of the quantum-to-classical transition, which could help model systems on the cusp of quantum and classical worlds, such as biological proteins, and also resolve questions about how quantum mechanics applies to large-scale objects.
Imaging of exotic quantum particles as building blocks for quantum computing
Researchers have imaged an exotic quantum particle -- called a Majorana fermion -- that can be used as a building block for future qubits and eventually the realization of quantum computers.
More Quantum Theory News and Quantum Theory Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at