Science Highlights

These monthly highlights, selected by MagLab Director Greg Boebinger, represent the most promising and cutting-edge research underway in the lab’s seven user facilities.

13 April 2016

Learning how protective shells form around retroviruses

Scientists gain new insights into how protective shells form around retrovirus genomes, advancing the search for drugs that will combat them.

13 April 2016

Superconducting insert magnet generates new record field of 40.2 teslas

Using a novel method of winding the magnet coil that dispensed with the traditional insulation, the MagLab reached another world record and laid the foundation for more to come.

13 April 2016

Understanding the physics behind a promising kind of resistor

Scientists theorize, and demonstrate, that a tiny shock wave of oxygen is the key to how nanoscale transistors work.

21 March 2016

Electron pairs superconduct in NbSe2 layer at high fields

Niobium diselenide is found to retain its superconductivity even under very high magnetic fields.

21 March 2016

Removing "water-loving" molecules from petroleum

Scientists have developed a way to isolate emulsion-causing petroleum compounds. The technique may help lower energy costs for both oil companies and consumers.

16 February 2016

New properties revealed in atomically-thin semiconductors

Scientists begin to fill in the blanks on transition metal dichalcogenides.

16 February 2016

Determining the structure of “death acids” in plants

Scientists analyzing maize affected by southern leaf blight determine the molecular structures of so-called “death acids.”

29 January 2016

MagLab expertise puts neutron scattering in focus

Tapping into MagLab expertise on superconductors and cryogenics, a research team built a novel neutron scattering device that is more efficient and produces better data than previous techniques.

29 January 2016

Phase separation of very dilute concentrations of 3He in solid 4He

Working with a solid form of helium at ultra-low temperatures, scientists observed a quantum phase separation that may shed light on analogous processes in classical systems like metal alloys.

29 January 2016

New record magnetic anisotropy in a molecular nanomagnet

Scientists created a molecular nanomagnet based on a single nickel atom with record-high magnetic anisotropy — a quality that makes it a promising building block for applications like memory storage.

11 December 2015

Record current density in superconducting CORC® magnet cables at 20 teslas

A new type of superconducting cable was successfully tested at high field at the MagLab, opening the door for the next generation of accelerator magnets operating at 20 teslas (T) and above.

11 December 2015

Quench analysis of pancake-wound REBCO coils with low resistance between turns

New calculations that reveal the workings of a new type of high-field research magnet will aid in future magnet designs.

11 December 2015

CIRL director helping set research agenda for women in STEM

The director of the lab's Center for Integrating Research and Learning is among a group of experts creating the future research agenda on women’s underrepresentation in engineering and computing.

20 November 2015

Magnetic field driven phase transition in underdoped YBCO

Just as all matter may exist in the three famous everyday phases — solid, liquid and gas — complex materials may exist in a combination of subtle phases not apparent to the eye. This finding shows that a class of materials, which all contain copper oxide and are known to exhibit a variety of subtle phases, may have even more complexity than thought. And, in fact, some phases are brought about not by changes in temperature but magnetic field.

19 November 2015

Cell phone technology makes for versatile NMR probes

Inspired by the SIM card technology used in modern cell phones, MagLab engineers designed and built a versatile magnet probe that makes it easier and more efficient for scientists to see the structure of molecules.

14 October 2015

Colossal magnetoelectric coupling probed to 90 teslas

Ni3TeO6 provides a new approach to coupling magnetism to ferroelectricity with a record large response. We measured this material's magnetic and electric properties across an extended range of temperature and magnetic field and compared with theoretical calculations to extract a model that describes the underlying reason for a large magnetoelectric coupling. High magnetic fields were key to establishing the magnetic Hamiltonian. This work is motivating the discovery of further 3d-4d oxide materials with large magnetoelectric couplings.

14 October 2015

Protein modifications in human breast cancer

We have discovered biomarkers that make it possible to distinguish breast cancer cells from non-cancerous cells, based on identifying chemical modifications of histones, the molecules about which DNA strands are wound to keep them in the cell nucleus. The method uses a high-field magnet to spread out the signals from different parts of the histone, to locate the site(s) of chemical modifications.

14 October 2015

Tweaking molecular structure to tune chemical reactivity

A recent high-field EPR study by MagLab users from Wayne State and Grand Valley State Universities has demonstrated that minor changes in the periphery of a nickel-containing molecule can lead to a dramatic reorganization of its electron distribution. This in turn, induces a major shift in the reactivity of this compound.

17 September 2015

Motion of Gas Molecules Through Nanotubes

When molecules are forced to pass through narrow holes in membranes, they must move one-by-one in single file. When this “No Passing!” rule is in effect, researchers have recently made the surprising discovery that mixing two gases can lead to faster motion of some of the molecules through the narrow holes.

17 September 2015

Insulator or metal … or, somehow, both at the same time?

Examining the material samarium hexaboride, scientists discover seemingly contradictory properties and an exciting, new mystery for physicists.