# 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.

# 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.

# New fertilizer for controlled release of nutrients

Research investigates material based on poly(butylene succinate), urea and clay

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.

# A novel approach to protein crystallization

Research investigates method for the production of protein crystals, based on thin films organized by an external electric field

Once a disease-related protein 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 deep understanding of its action in the body, and its interaction with a potential drug. In this way, it is possible to discover potential new drugs, or to understand the functioning of known drugs and to increase their effectiveness.

Protein crystallography is an essential tool in the investigation of the three-dimensional structure of these molecules and, consequently, of their biological function. So much so that about 90% of the currently known protein structures were determined using X-ray diffraction in protein crystals. However, in order to apply this technique, it is necessary to obtain a protein crystal of adequate quality, which requires quite specific conditions.

# In Search of Fingerprints for Atmospheric Pollution

Research determines markers to identify those responsible for the emission of iron-rich particles in cities

The contamination of the atmosphere by gases and solid particles affects not only human health in urban centers but also the ecosystem. The management of air quality depends on several actions including the establishment of quality standards, the regulation of the release of pollutants, and the monitoring of air quality in a given region.

Programs for air quality monitoring can point out levels of pollutants in the atmosphere and assess their compliance with standards set by legislation. However, they are not able to identify the individual contribution of each source responsible for the emission.

# Porous Nanostructures Inspired in Biological Systems

Research investigates reproducing the morphology of complex biological systems in the nanoscale for technological purposes

The morphology of biological systems has fascinated both architects and scientists, and their reproduction in the nanoscale could be very useful for technological purposes. This type of structure is already considered a candidate for applications in chemical catalysis, air filters for virus elimination, and membranes for water purification and separation of proteins.

# Nano-opto-electronics with Soapstone

Research shows potential of combining mineral with graphene for the design of new devices

The development of electronic devices in the nanometric scale depends on the search for materials that have appropriate characteristics, and that are also efficient and inexpensive. This is the case of graphene, a material formed by a single layer of carbon atoms obtained from graphite. Graphene is a conductor with excellent optical and electrical properties that can be easily altered by the incidence of electric fields or light.

In addition, several other interesting structural, electronic and optical properties can be obtained by combining graphene with other materials. These new properties arise due to changes in the electronic structure in the interface of different materials when they are brought into contact. In this scenario, the search for new materials and ways of combining them becomes a natural trend.

# Nano-Fried Eggs: nanoparticles with optical and magnetic properties

Results have potential applications in the production of biomedical images and in the detection of individual molecules

Due to their extremely small size, and properties adaptable to virtually any application, nanoparticles have been attracting the interest of a wide range of science and technology fields. The characteristics of these tiny particles can be controlled by means of their composition, size and shape. Additionally, by combining different materials, it is possible to include different properties in the same nanoparticle or to make new properties emerge.

Furthermore, depending on the crystalline structure and the miscibility of the precursor materials at the nanoscale, they may segregate into different structures, such as core-shell – in which the nanoparticles’ core and surface are each composed of different materials – or Janus – in which the surface of the nanoparticles is composed of two or more materials.