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Geek-Up[6.3.2011]: Inked PV, Diagnostic Tools and Tough Microscopes

June 3, 2011 - 2:04pm

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Novartis Diagnostics scientist Cleo Salisbury and Biological Nanostructures Facility director Ron Zuckermann discuss their collaboration to discover new therapies for Alzheimer's.

At Argonne National Laboratory, solar photovoltaics are rolling off the presses. Researchers at the lab have developed inorganic nanocrystal arrays, created by spraying a new type of colloidal “ink.” Team leader Dmitri Talapin explained, “You’d use a kind of ink, stamped on using a roll technology with a flexible substrate.”
 
Focusing on the semiconductor part of the solar cell, the team utilized another technology to advance a more efficient, cheaper version of silicon solar cells. The researcher suspended quantum dots, small grains of semiconductor material, in solution. When heated, the grains glue together with new molecules called molecular metal chalcogenide complexes. 
 
Talapin’s group used intense X-rays from the Advanced Photon Source to watch as the semiconductor film was created.
 
Read more about this project here.


Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have engineered a technique to help doctors identify Alzheimer’s in its early stages and discover new therapies for this disease. Alzheimer’s is characterized by an accumulation of misfolded proteins in the brain. When a protein doesn’t fold into its normal shape, it also doesn’t perform its normal functions.
 
Using robotic synthesis capabilities housed at the Molecular Foundry, a nanoscience user facility at Berkeley Lab, Biological Nanostructures Facility director Ron Zuckermann and his team collaborated with Novartis diagnostics to develop a panel of peptoids designed to capture misfolded prion proteins, an infectious form of a cellular protein found in the brain. The researchers attached magnetic beads to the peptoids and then used a magnet to isolate misfolded proteins directly from blood samples. The most selective and sensitive of these peptoids can capture both the prion aggregates and the aggregates associated with Alzheimer’s.
 
Check out more on this diagnostic tool here and watch Novartis Diagnostics scientist Cleo Salisbury and Dr. Zuckermann discuss their collaboration above.


 
A team of scientists from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Wright State University and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have developed a new type of atomic force microscope that allows researchers to see real time images of reactions at a carbon sequestration site. Through the team’s apparatus, the microscope can handle pressures of 100 atmospheres and temperatures up to around 350 Kelvin, conditions found a half a mile underground in certain rock formations.
 

Images taken by the atomic force microscope of mineral calcite as it reacts with carbon dioxide | Courtesy of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

The team captured images and a real-time movie of CO2 interacting with a hydrated calcite surface. The images could lead to better understanding of the chemical interactions between CO2 and minerals in underground environments. Next, the group plans to use their equipped atomic force microscope to study reactions more directly related to carbon sequestration, building off their successful demonstration with calcite.

The microscope is available to the broader scientific community at EMSL, a DOE national scientific user facility.

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