27-May-2016 ORNL researchers use strain to engineer first high-performance, two-way oxide catalyst
Catalysts make chemical reactions more likely to occur. In most cases, a catalyst that's good at driving chemical reactions in one direction is bad at driving reactions in the opposite direction. However, a research team led by the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory has created the first high-performance, two-way oxide catalyst and filed a patent application for the invention. The accomplishment is reported in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
18-Apr-2016 ORNL forges connections for sturgeon conservation
Scientists at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory are taking a closer look at how sturgeon, a prehistoric -- and now imperiled -- group of fish species may better be helped to get around the dams that block their migrations.
5-Apr-2016 Chalice receptors attract metal contaminants with new chemical selectivity
Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory found new ways to influence selectivity for specific positively charged ions (cations) with the addition of simple receptors, not for cations but rather for negatively charged ions (anions). This discovery proves that adding an anion receptor can affect the selectivity of extractants used to separate metals. Better selectivity via the addition of anion receptors to enhance discrimination between metals, such as sodium and cesium, could improve future environmental cleanup efforts.
28-Mar-2016 ORNL scientists show charged salts can extract specific central lanthanide elements
Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory wanted to find out if it was possible to make a molecule that could selectively bind to metal cations in the middle of the lanthanide series. The team provided a proof-of-principle by successfully creating a new ligand that selectively extracted central lanthanides. Easier accessibility to these central lanthanides could lead to advances in materials for technologies such as lasers, strong magnets, lights and neutron-absorbing control rods in nuclear reactors.
9-Mar-2016 ORNL's benchmark data set validates global nuclear reactor codes
A re-analysis of nuclear fuel rods from a commercial reactor used improved radiochemical methods developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and characterized more than 50 different isotopes and 16 elements with high accuracy. It produced an experimental data set with uncertainties many times smaller than those obtained by the earlier radiochemical analysis. Modeling and simulation experts at ORNL applied the more accurate experimental data to validate codes widely used by the nuclear safeguards research community.
8-Mar-2016 'Keiser rigs' stress materials to the max to improve products for power, propulsion
For decades, environmental exposure chambers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, including some called Keiser rigs, have subjected materials to corrosive gases, crushing pressures and calamitous heat. The extreme environments created in the Keiser rigs have spurred advances and continue to do so by providing insight into the conditions under which materials fail so researchers can apply the lessons learned to design better materials for power and propulsion applications.
25-Jan-2016 Cracking cases
A group of nuclear detectives at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory takes on tough challenges, from detecting illicit uranium using isotopic 'fingerprints' to investigating Presidential assassination conspiracies. 'A very big capability at Oak Ridge exists for nuclear analytics, all the way from helping commercial production of nuclear power to making sure the world's nuclear materials are properly accounted for,' said ORNL's Joseph Giaquinto, leader of the Nuclear Analytical Chemistry and Isotopics Laboratories.
19-Jan-2016 ORNL researchers use neutrons to gain insight into battery inefficiency
Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are improving the lifetimes of rechargeable batteries that run on lithium, a small atom that can pack tightly into graphite anode materials. The valuable ions are depleted as a battery charges, and they are also lost to the formation of a thin coating on a battery's anode during initial charging. ORNL researchers used two powerful neutron science facilities to try to understand the dynamics behind this phenomenon.
15-Jan-2016 ORNL's thermal cameras snoop beneath surfaces to reveal materials' secrets
In 1995, the Department of Energy's Continuous Fiber Ceramic Composite program, led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, bought a high-speed infrared camera -- one of the first available for purchase outside the military. Since then, ORNL has acquired at least 10 additional IR cameras for use in a spectrum of projects. The cameras have mapped changing temperatures as heat flows through objects from gears to artwork.
6-Jan-2016 ORNL on team officially recognized for elements 115, 117 discovery
The International Union for Pure and Applied Chemistry has announced formal verification of four new chemical elements, recognizing the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory and its collaborators for the discovery of elements 115 and 117.
10-Nov-2015 Atoms to engines
The Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, FCA US LLC, and the foundry giant, Nemak of Mexico, are combining their strengths to create lightweight powertrain materials that will help the auto industry speed past the technological roadblocks to its target of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.
7-Oct-2015 Laser spectroscopy of ultrathin semiconductor reveals rise of 'trion' quasiparticles
Scientists at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory used ultrafast laser spectroscopy at the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences to demystify the dynamics of the negative trions. They explored the behavior of the charged quasiparticle in a two-dimensional semiconductor that is an excellent absorber of sunlight. Their insights, published in the journal Physical Review B, may prove important for advancing technologies for solar energy and quantum computing.
29-Sep-2015 Titan helps unpuzzle decades-old plutonium perplexities
First produced in 1940, plutonium is one of the most electronically complicated elements on Earth -- and because of its complexities, scientists have been struggling to prove the existence of its magnetic properties ever since. Finally, that struggle is over, thanks to a timely combination of theory, algorithm and code developments, neutrons experiments, and Titan -- the second-most-powerful supercomputer in the world.
20-Aug-2015 Carbon number crunching
A booming economy and population led China to emerge in 2006 as the global leader in fossil-fuel carbon emissions, a distinction it still maintains. But exactly how much carbon China releases has been a topic of debate, with recent estimates varying by as much as 15 percent.
18-Aug-2015 Viral comparisons
An Oak Ridge National Laboratory team of comparative genomics and computational science researchers compared approximately 4,000 complete virus genomes downloaded from a public database known as GenBank. By compressing the sequence files, the team created a virus dendrogram that maps out the relationships among all the different virus families.
13-Aug-2015 The pressure is on
Researchers with Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Spallation Neutron Source have developed technology to squeeze materials with a million times the pressure of the earth's atmosphere while studying them with neutrons. When they bombard these materials with neutrons, the materials provide an unprecedented picture of the changing nature of matter under extreme pressure.
11-Aug-2015 Eyes on the prize
Recently, the Department of Energy Office of Science's Nanoscale Science Research Centers at Argonne, Brookhaven, Lawrence Berkeley, Los Alamos/Sandia and Oak Ridge national laboratories jointly organized a workshop at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to discuss opportunities and challenges as imaging and data sciences merge. Those efforts will likely aid the Materials Genome Initiative, which aims to speed new materials to the global marketplace.
28-Jul-2015 Rigors of the road: ORNL invention will support licensing and transport of spent nuclear fuel
With support from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have devised the Cyclic Integrated Reversible-bending Fatigue Tester. Combined with ongoing fuel transportation research, data from the CIRFT system will help facilitate cask designs and transportation protocols that ensure safe transportation of spent nuclear fuel.
27-May-2015 The 'why' of models
An international team of researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Macquarie University, the University of Western Sydney and the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry set out to assess how two Free-Air CO2 Enrichment projects compared to eleven vegetation models that simulate various ecological processes. Instead of only benchmarking whether or not an individual model matched the experimental data, the researchers developed an 'assumption-centered' approach to evaluate why certain models performed better than others.
21-May-2015 Shape-shifting plastic
Researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Washington State University and the University of Idaho have developed a process to make a thermoset that can be reshaped and reused. The new plastic is a shape-memory polymer, so named because the material can 'remember' its original shape and return to it after being deformed with heat or other forces.
The Department of Energy's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.