# Science

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With open facilities, the Brazilian Synchrotron Light Laboratory (LNLS) annually welcomes about 1200 Brazilian and foreign researchers, committed to more than 400 studies that result in approximately 200 articles published in scientific journals. Check out below some of the many investigations that have benefited from LNLS facilities.

Click Here to access the publications produced with data obtained at the LNLS facilities, and published in journals indexed by the Web of Science.

# Control of light at the nanoscale

Research evaluates combination of graphene and hexagonal boron nitride for opto-electronic devices of the future

Photonics is the science that investigates phenomena related to light, such as its generation, transmission and detection. Its applications can be found in a wide range of technologies that directly impact our daily life: lasers used in surgery, fiber optics for data transmission, and screens of high definition TVs and smartphones. These advances are only possible by the in-depth knowledge of the interaction of light with supercompact electronic components.

The latest frontier of photonics is the production of nanoscale devices capable of transmitting information by means of light signals, called nanophotonic or optoelectronic devices. When compared to the already established electronic components, the new nanodevices will carry a greater volume of information at a faster pace.

# New materials for the reduction of vehicle pollution

Research develops nanostructured material with high oxygen storage and release capacity for the improvement of catalytic converters

Complete combustion of both fossil and biofuels generates carbon dioxide ($\rm CO_2$) and water as final products. However, incomplete combustion of these substances can occur in automobile engines, generating important pollutants such as carbon monoxide ($\rm CO$), hydrocarbons, and nitrogen oxides (such as $\rm NO$ and $\rm NO_2$).

To reduce the emission of these toxic substances, an equipment called a catalytic converter is used in the exhaust of vehicles. Materials called catalysts promote and accelerate chemical reactions without being consumed during the process. They retain on their surface the reactant molecules, weakening the bonds between the atoms and causing the pollutants to be converted into less harmful gases.

# Research identifies water reservoirs in sugarcane bagasse

Results contribute to improve processing technology and valorization of this resource

Sugarcane is cultivated in several countries around the world, mainly to produce sugar and alcohol obtained from the juice extracted during the milling process. The remaining fresh bagasse is a material rich in cellulose and lignin, but also in water. Even with the extreme efficiency of the operations in the sugarcane industry, after all the juice extraction stages in the mill, the fresh bagasse is still composed of almost 50% of water.

The remaining water in the bagasse has several important consequences. The extraction of sugar has efficiency between 94 and 98%. The remaining percentage remains trapped at the bagasse in some way associated with water. Thus, any percentage gain in this process can bring a million-dollar impact to the industry.

# Unraveling plants resistance to drought

Research investigates the chemical nanostructure of water conducting vessels

Plant cells are encased in a structure called the cell wall, composed mainly of cellulose and lignin. Among other functions, this wall gives structural stability to the cells and controls the entry of water, minerals and other substances. When they die, the cells leave behind their cell wall, forming different structures that support the plant giving rigidity to the stems and that facilitate the transport of substances from the roots to the leaves and vice versa. One such structure is the xylem: a continuous network of conduits about 100 micrometers in diameter that carries the water absorbed by the roots to the leaves.

# New possibilities against the HIV epidemic

Research identifies new antibodies with potent activity against virus and infected cells

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus type-1 (HIV-1) currently infects 37 million people worldwide, with an additional 2 million new infections each year. Following infection, the virus has a long period of latency, during which it multiplies without causing symptoms. HIV attacks the cells of the immune system, especially the cells called CD4+ T-lymphocytes, which are responsible for triggering the body's response chain against infections. Thus, by suppressing the action of the immune system, the virus destroys the body's ability to defend itself against other diseases, leading to the so-called Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, or AIDS.

Even with the development of antiretroviral therapies that have improved quality of life and increased the life expectancy of patients with HIV/AIDS, it is widely accepted that the only way to effectively curb this devastating epidemic is through the development of an HIV-1 vaccine.

# New reactor for 3D in situ imaging of catalysts

Research obtains 3D images of catalysts under reaction by Bragg coherent X-ray diffraction

Catalysts are materials that promote and accelerate chemical reactions without being consumed during the process. For example, catalysts are used, for example, to reduce the emission of toxic gases, such as the carbon monoxide ($\rm CO$) produced by car engines.

The catalytic converters present in the exhaust of vehicles allows the $\rm CO$ oxidation reaction to occur, that is, in the presence of a catalyst, $\rm CO$ reacts with the oxygen gas ($\rm O_2$) leading to the formation of carbon dioxide ($\rm CO_2$).

Hence, to achieve cheaper and more efficient processes to control vehicle pollution, a better understanding of catalytic materials is needed. Consequently, to carry out such challenging researches, the development of new scientific tools is constantly necessary.

# Encapsulation of drugs for new cancer treatments

Research develops hydrogel from silk protein with potential application in photodynamic therapy

Cancer is a set of diseases characterized by uncontrolled multiplication of cells. One of the main methods for treating this disease is chemotherapy, which uses drugs to block the growth of those cells or to destroy them. In this way, most drugs used interfere with mitosis, the cellular mechanism by which new cells are produced. Therefore, both cancerous and healthy cells are affected, leading to several side effects.

Worldwide, considerable effort has been directed at developing new methods that act directly on the target of treatment. This is the case of so-called photodynamic therapy (PDT), a minimally invasive therapeutic procedure that selectively acts on malignant cells.

# Research investigates the enzyme structure of bacteria that causes tuberculosis

Results on its interaction with antibiotics may lead to the development of new forms of treatment for this disease

Tuberculosis is a chronic infection usually caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. This bacterium infects cells of the immune system called alveolar macrophages, which are responsible for removing pollutants and microorganisms from the surface of the alveoli, where the exchange of gases occurs during respiration.

It is estimated that approximately two billion people worldwide are infected with M. tuberculosis without symptoms. However, the clinical manifestations of the disease may appear at any time in life, especially when the immune system is weakened, such as due to malnutrition or diseases such as cancer and AIDS.

# Identification of a new genetic mutation associated with intellectual disability

Study contributes to the understanding of mechanisms involved in neurodevelopmental disorders

Once a disease-related protein or enzyme is identified as a therapeutic target, the study of its three-dimensional structure - the positions of each of its atoms and their interactions - allows a deeper understanding of its mechanisms of action.

This is possible not only for these substances produced by microorganisms, such as viruses or bacteria, capable of attacking our body. It is also possible, for example, to understand molecules normally produced by the human body itself, but which had their structure and function altered due to some genetic mutation.

In agricultural production, several of the nutrients needed for the growth and development of plants are supplied or supplemented by fertilizers. Some nutrients, such as phosphorus ($\rm P$) and potassium ($\rm K$), are needed in large quantities, but obtained from limited mineral sources. Others - such as manganese ($\rm Mn$), copper ($\rm Cu$) or zinc ($\rm Zn$) - are only needed in small quantities and the excess can be toxic to plants or to important microorganisms present in the soil. Therefore, there is an intense research into new fertilizers that allow the rational delivery of the nutrients necessary for agriculture, avoiding their use in excessive, inefficient use, or environmentally harmful ways.