Atomic structure of a glass imaged at last

The positions of all the atoms in a sample of a metallic glass have been measured experimentally — fulfilling a decades-old dream for glass scientists, and raising the prospect of fresh insight into the structures of disordered solids. If the chemical element and 3D location of every atom in a material are known, then the material’s physical properties can, in principle at least, be predicted using the laws of physics. The atomic positions of crystals have long-range periodicity, which has enabled the development of powerful methods that combine diffraction experiments with the mathematics of symmetry to determine the precise atomic structure of these materials. Moreover, deviations from periodicity that create defects in crystals can be imaged with sub-ångström resolution. But these methods do not work for glasses, which lack long-range periodicity. Our knowledge of the atomic structure of glasses is therefore limited and acquired indirectly. Writing in Nature, Yang et al.1 report the experimental determination of the 3D positions of all the atoms in a nanometre-scale sample of a metallic glass.

Century-old problem solved with first-ever 3D atomic imaging of an amorphous solid

UCLA-led study captures the structure of metallic glass. Glass, rubber and plastics all belong to a class of matter called amorphous solids. And in spite of how common they are in our everyday lives, amorphous solids have long posed a challenge to scientists. Since the 1910s, scientists have been able to map in 3D the atomic structures of crystals, the other major class of solids, which has led to myriad advances in physics, chemistry, biology, materials science, geology, nanoscience, drug discovery and more. But because amorphous solids aren’t assembled in rigid, repetitive atomic structures like crystals are, they have defied researchers’ ability to determine their atomic structure with the same level of precision. Until now, that is. A UCLA-led study in the journal Nature reports on the first-ever determination of the 3D atomic structure of an amorphous solid — in this case, a material called metallic glass.

Do You Know the Way to Berkelium, Californium?

Heavy elements and a really powerful microscope help scientists map uncharted paths toward new materials and cancer therapies. Heavy elements known as the actinides are important materials for medicine, energy, and national defense. But even though the first actinides were discovered by scientists at Berkeley Lab more than 50 years ago, we still don’t know much about their chemical properties because only small amounts of these highly radioactive elements (or isotopes) are produced every year; they’re expensive; and their radioactivity makes them challenging to handle and store safely.

Congrats to Iona Binnie for Receiving an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

The NSF GRFP recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported STEM disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited US institutions. The five-year fellowship includes three years of financial support including an annual stipend of $34,000 and a cost of education allowance of $12,000 to the institution.

New Buff Innovator Insights podcast to spotlight faculty innovators

The first episode of the inaugural season of Buff Innovator Insights, a new podcast from the Research & Innovation Office (RIO), will premiere on Thursday, March 18. The podcast will offer a behind-the-curtain look at some of the most ground-breaking innovations in the world—all emanating from the CU Boulder campus—along with the personal journeys that made those discoveries possible. Terri Fiez, Vice Chancellor for Research & Innovation, hosts this up-close and personal look at how researchers, scholars and artists become global pioneers, why they are so dedicated to discovery, and their visions of the future in the wide range of fields they explore.

Airing Thursday, March 18: Margaret Murnane–JILA; Physics; STROBE Science & Technology Center

In the first episode of Buff Innovator Insights, we meet Dr. Margaret Murnane, CU Boulder professor of physics and one of the world’s leading experts in ultrafast laser and x-ray science. Join us to learn about her improbable journey from growing up in the Irish countryside to developing the microscopes of the future and cultivating the world’s next generation of physicists.

Congrats to Mary Scott for Being a 2020 Women @ The Lab Honoree

The Berkeley Lab Women Scientists & Engineers Council has announced that Foundry Staff Mary Scott and Liana Klivansky are part of the 2020 cohort of Women @ The Lab 2020 honorees. Congratulations to the honorees for their meritorious professional contributions, leadership, mentorship, and outreach.

This celebration highlights Berkeley Lab women and their success stories – scientists, engineers, and operations staff who are working to change the world for the better. By promoting the achievements of these 15 brilliant women, we hope to continue to inspire a new generation of women to enter the STEM workforce, where their participation could lead to important breakthroughs.

A COSMIC Approach to Nanoscale Science

COSMIC, a multipurpose X-ray instrument at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s (Berkeley Lab’s) Advanced Light Source (ALS), has made headway in the scientific community since its launch less than 2 years ago, with groundbreaking contributions in fields ranging from batteries to biominerals…

Family legacies that grew from FLC

The Sells-Wheeler Family By Natalia Sells

My name is Natalia Sells (Business Management, ‘18) and I am a second-generation Fort Lewis College alumna. My parents, Earlisa Sells (Student-Constructed Major, ‘06) and Leon Wheeler (Psychology, ‘06 and Student-Constructed Major, ‘07), started at FLC in 2004 when I was 10 years old.

Since we lived in Shiprock, New Mexico, my father commuted to Durango for his lecture classes every other day. Often, he would sleep in the family truck to save on gas and money. Sometimes he would take my siblings and me to the College, where he would reserve a corner window study hall room on the second floor of the Education Business Hall. I remember reading my book and looking out the window at the students changing classes. My younger sister, then three years old, sometimes sat with Dad in his lecture classes…

Congrats to Laura Waller for Receiving the 2021 Optical Society (OSA) Adolph Lomb Medal

Founded in 1916, OSA is the leading professional organization for scientists, engineers, students and business leaders who fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications and accelerate achievements in the science of light. Through world-renowned publications, meetings and membership initiatives, OSA provides quality research, inspired interactions and dedicated resources for its extensive global network of optics and photonics experts.

Laura is being honored specifically for important contributions to the advancement of computational microscopy and its applications.

Adolph Lomb was OSA’s treasurer from its founding until his death in 1932.  In recognition of his devotion to OSA and the advancement of optics, the Adolph Lomb Medal, established in 1940, is presented to a person who has made a noteworthy contribution to optics at an early career stage.

She joins an esteemed group of past recipients recognized for their outstanding contributions to the field of optics and photonics.

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