Research Highlights

JULY 16, 2018

The demand for lighter, stronger, and more durable materials for use in vehicles has never been higher. Companies are looking at new and advanced materials such as lightweight advanced high-strength steels (AHSS) to develop automotive components that help increase gas efficiency, reduce maintenance costs, and save lives.



Lu Huang, USS industrial research engineer prepares a lightweighted advanced
high strength steel component for neutron research at the Spallation Neutron
Source’s VULCAN instrument. Data from this study may make
it faster and easier for companies to design automotive components that

FEBRUARY 19, 2018

The observation of an abnormal state of matter in a two-dimensional magnetic material is the latest development in the race to harness novel electronic properties for more robust and efficient next-generation devices.



The Weyl semimetal state is induced when the opposing motions of the
electrons cause the Dirac cones to split in two (illustrated on the left by
outward facing electrons, opposite the inward facing electrons on the right).
The abnormal state enables greater electrical flow with minimal resistance.
(Image credit: ORNL/Jill Hemman) 

DECEMBER 21, 2017

Each year Science's news staff announce their selection of the top 10 scientific achievements of the year and award the title "Breakthrough of the Year" to the achievement determined to be the most significant.   For 2017 the title of "Breakthrough of the Year" was awarded to Cosmic convergence, the first observation of a neutron-star merger. 


A

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