Research Highlights

FEBRUARY 6, 2017

Scientific research can be vexing and tiring at times, but for Bianca Haberl, the euphoria of discovery is the ultimate reward.


Bianca Haberl, Alvin M. Weinberg Fellow at Oak Ridge National Laboratory

In fact, Haberl can identify the specific instance, early in her career, when that excitement originated and guided her toward high pressure science. It was her first time working on a synchrotron, studying the phase transitions and structural changes of silicon under high pressure. Her team had been awake for two days straight with little success, until the early pre-dawn

JULY 28, 2017

Advances in modern electronics has demanded the requisite hardware, transistors, to be smaller in each new iteration. Recent progress in nanotechnology has reduced the size of silicon transistors down to the order of 10 nanometers. However, for such small transistors, other physical effects set in, which limit their functionality. For example, the power consumption and heat production in these devices is creating significant problems for device design. Therefore, novel quantum materials and device concepts are required to develop a new generation of energy-saving information technology. The recent discoveries of topological materials — a new class of relativistic quantum materials — hold great promise for use in energy saving electronics.
 

OCTOBER 16, 2017

Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have performed neutron structural analysis of a vitamin B6-dependent protein, potentially opening avenues for new antibiotics and drugs to battle diseases such as drug-resistant tuberculosis, malaria and diabetes.



An ORNL-led team used neutrons to observe the AAT enzyme, a vitamin B6-dependent
protein, and found that the chemical reaction occurred only in one active site.
Nuclear scattering length density maps (colored mesh) highlight the positions of critical
hydrogen atoms, including a low-

AUGUST 3, 2017

After more than a year of operation at the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the COHERENT experiment, using the world’s smallest neutrino detector, has found a big fingerprint of the elusive, electrically neutral particles that interact only weakly with matter.



From left, Jason Newby of ORNL and Yuri Efremenko of the University of Tennessee–
Knoxville/ORNL check equipment for the COHERENT experiment at the SNS. In 2005
Efremenko and others proposed a neutrino facility at the SNS; that vision

JULY 5, 2017

A team led by the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has used sophisticated neutron scattering techniques to detect an elusive quantum state known as the Higgs amplitude mode in a two-dimensional material.


The ORNL-led research team selected a crystal composed of copper bromide –
because the copper ion is ideal for studying exotic quantum effects –
to observe the elusive Higgs amplitude mode in two dimensions. The sample was
examined using cold neutron triple-axis spectrometer beams for neutron scattering
at the High Flux Isotope Reactor.

JUNE 27, 2017

Producing biofuels like ethanol from plant materials requires various enzymes to break down the cellulosic fibers. Scientists using neutron scattering have identified the specifics of an enzyme-catalyzed reaction that could significantly reduce the total amount of enzymes used, improving production processes and lowering costs.


A combination of X-ray and neutron scattering has revealed new insights into how a
highly efficient industrial enzyme is used to break down cellulose. Knowing how oxygen
molecules (red) bind to catalytic elements (illustrated by a single copper ion) will guide
researchers in

Neutron scattering is a valuable technique for studying cell membranes, but signals from the cell’s other components such as proteins, RNA, DNA and carbohydrates can get in the way. An ORNL team made these other components practically invisible to neutron

MAY 24, 2017

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., May 24, 2017—A research team from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has performed the first-ever direct nanoscale examination of a living cell membrane. In doing so, it also resolved a long-standing debate by identifying tiny groupings of lipid molecules that are likely key to the cell’s functioning.


Neutron scattering is a valuable technique for studying cell membranes, but signals from
the cell’s other components such as proteins, RNA, DNA and carbohydrates can get
in the way. An ORNL team made these other components practically invisible to
neutrons

Stacey Bagg, research engineer from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, is using HFIR beam line HB-2B, to study residual stress in additive manufactured rocket engine components to qualify them for space flight. Image credit: Genevieve Martin/ORNL.

SEPTEMBER 13, 2016

The process of 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, holds promise for advancements in almost every industry, including even rocket science.


Stacey Bagg, research engineer from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center,
is using HFIR beam line HB-2B to study residual stress in additive-manufactured
rocket engine components to qualify them for space flight.
Image credit: Genevieve Martin/ORNL

Engineers from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, used neutrons recently to help understand the potential benefit of additive

AUGUST 8, 2016

Theory and experiment push each other to expand the frontiers of physics. Now, the Neutron Sciences Directorate at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has both.

Cristian Batista: Where Theory Meets Experiment
Theoretical condensed matter physicist Cristian Batista
brings advanced knowledge of theory to expand upon the experimental
physics research conducted at ORNL. (Image credit: Genevieve Martin)


Cristian Batista, a theoretical condensed matter physicist with a joint appointment at ORNL and the University of Tennessee, is bringing theory to the

Flora Meilleur (middle) works with teachers participating in her project, helping them mix the protein solution lysozyme with a salt solution to form a crystal. The teachers mix the solutions in various concentrations and ratios and observe the results. (

JULY 29, 2016

Summer break for a group of science educators and students means hands-on research in high-heat plasmas, supercomputer construction, biofuels and more, thanks to the annual Math-Science-Technology Institute held at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.


Flora Meilleur (middle) works with teachers participating in her project,
helping them mix the protein solution lysozyme with a salt solution
to form a crystal. The teachers mix the solutions in various concentrations and
ratios and observe the results. (Image credit: Genevieve Martin)

The program, a