Today at Berkeley Lab Berkeley Lab logo US Dept. of Energy logoBerkeley Lab logo
Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Nanocrystals May Help Turn Sunlight Into Liquid Fuel

Through photosynthesis plants use sunlight to convert water and carbon dioxide into sugars they use for fuel. Berkeley Lab scientists want to create an artificial version of photosynthesis to produce liquid fuels for transportation. Chemists Heinz Frei and Feng Jiao have taken an important step towards this goal with the discovery that cobalt oxide nanocrystals can effectively carry out the critical photosynthetic reaction of splitting water molecules.

In The News: Thinking Small About The Grid

batteries[Forbes] Here's a term you don't see too often: microgrids. We may be reading about them a lot more this year. Chris Marnay, with Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division, has been working on microgrids for 10 years. A microgrid is a localized grid powered by a cluster of on-site generators, backup batteries, an array of solar panels or other sources of energy. Marney and colleagues are developing a microgrid that involves small generators that monitor voltage and frequency nearby in the microgrid and use the information to maintain safe and stable operation when "islanded" from the larger grid. More>

In The News: The New Science of Making Anything Disappear

invisible[Discover] Berkeley Lab materials scientist Xiang Zhang remembers the day he recognized that something extraordinary was happening around him. It was in 2000, at a workshop organized by DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) to explore a tantalizing idea: that radical new kinds of engineered materials might enable us to extend our control over matter in seemingly magical ways. More>

chu and roseDOE Update: Chu Discusses Restoring Science to its Proper Role on 'Charlie Rose'

Energy Secretary Steve Chu was interviewed on PBS this past Monday by the acclaimed broadcast journalist Charlie Rose who asked him about the proper role of science. Declaring “scientists want to find out the truth as best they can," Chu said, "Truth can be used for good or bad but in the past, scientific truth has greatly benefited society.” Chu also spoke of the virtues of energy conservation as “fruit that is on the ground,” and called for increased federal investments in the national labs and universities to develop advanced battery, solar, wind and biofuel technologies. He also called for improved new strategies for carbon sequestration and the safer use of coal and nuclear power.

Educational Outreach: Lab Staff ‘Shadowed’ By Albany High School Students

job shadowJuniors from Albany High School "shadowed" Lab staff last Wednesday and on Feb. 25 as part of the school's annual Job Shadow Day. Students were mentored by employees in Computing Sciences and the National Energy Research Scientific Computing center (NERSC). Said one student after a tour of NERSC’s giant supercomputer room: “I hope one day I can work in this field.” The Earth Sciences Division, Health Services, and the Creative Services Office also sponsored shadow students. More>

busShuttle Bus: Enhanced Schedules Effective March 16

A new bus schedule launching on Monday, March 16, will reduce wait times for passengers and idle time for buses. The Blue bus will now make pickups every 10 minutes (previously was every 13 minutes, 11 during commute hours). The Orange bus will now make pickups every 15 minutes, and every 10 minutes from 7:40 to 9:40 a.m. (previously was every 18 minutes, 12 during commute hours). The Green bus intervals will remain the same with slight alterations to the schedule. Rockridge and Potter routes and schedules are unchanged. Riders can check when buses are arriving using NEXTBus. LabPorter reservations are available on a first-come, first-served basis from 10:30 to 11:45 a.m. and 1 to 3:45 p.m. Send comments here.

Today at Berkeley Lab is produced by Public Affairs' Communications Department