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Chaotic physics in ferroelectrics hints at brain-like computing

November 19, 2013 7:20 am | News | Comments

Ferroelectric materials are known for their ability to spontaneously switch polarization when an electric field is applied. An Oak Ridge National Laboratory-led team took advantage of this property to draw areas of switched polarization called domains on the surface of a ferroelectric material. To the researchers’ surprise, the domains began forming complex and unpredictable patterns that the researchers say should not be possible.

Study uses neutron scattering, supercomputing to demystify biofuel production

November 14, 2013 7:23 am | News | Comments

Researchers studying more effective ways to convert woody plant matter into biofuels have identified fundamental forces that change plant structures during pretreatment processes used in the production of bioenergy. Experimental techniques including neutron scattering and x-ray analysis with supercomputer simulations revealed unexpected findings about what happens to water molecules trapped between cellulose fibers.

Researchers make strides toward a copper oxide solar cell

October 31, 2013 7:53 am | News | Comments

Amit Goyal and his team of research scientists are using copper oxide to redesign the face of solar power. The once-dismissed solar semiconductor, one of the first discovered, is the basis of ongoing research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where scientists are creating cheaper and safer alternatives for solar conducting technology.


Neutrons, electrons and theory reveal secrets of natural gas reserves

October 28, 2013 3:08 pm | News | Comments

Gas and oil deposits in shale have no place to hide from an Oak Ridge National Laboratory technique that provides an inside look at pores and reveals structural information potentially vital to the nation’s energy needs. The research could clear the path to the more efficient extraction of gas and oil from shale.

The science of scents

September 19, 2013 8:21 am | News | Comments

Of the five senses, smell is the least understood, but an Oak Ridge National Laboratory researcher is sniffing out answers that could help establish a systematic understanding of how people categorize odors. The paper could ultimately result in more complete explanations of how the brain’s odor processing mechanism represents and categorizes odors, and help in the effort to predict mental impressions of odors from chemicals.

Oxygen “sponge” presents path to better catalysts, energy materials

August 29, 2013 12:01 pm | News | Comments

Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a new oxygen “sponge” that can easily absorb or shed oxygen atoms at low temperatures. It consists of strontium cobaltite which has been synthesized in a desirable phase known as perovskite. Materials like this would be useful in devices such as rechargeable batteries, sensors, gas converters and fuel cells.

Phase-locking for Diode Arrays

August 28, 2013 12:45 pm | Award Winners

Broad-area laser diode arrays offer high electrical power conversion efficiency (from 50 to 70%), up to 100 W of light power and are relatively inexpensive to fabricate. However, the diodes in the array suffer from multi-transverse mode emission, which means that phase-locking is impossible. This limits beam quality and brightness. Oak Ridge National Laboratory invented an efficient method to extract a high-quality optical beam from a broad-area laser array by using a V-shaped (off-axis) external optical cavity.

Clearing Big Data Hurdles

August 28, 2013 12:19 pm | Award Winners

For Big Data applications I/O needs to be efficient and scalable so that large data sets can be accessed quickly and fed to applications for processing. With this goal in mind, a team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory has created ADIOS, a software framework designed to handle the I/O requirements of Big Data projects.


Digging Through the Mess

August 28, 2013 12:06 pm | Award Winners

Every person, company and government organization is faced with continuously flowing, massive streams of data that can’t be manually analyzed. Computers help, but the sheer volume of data has foiled many approaches. Software engineers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have now developed a new way of dealing with this seemingly intractable problem.

Revving Up Engine Development

August 28, 2013 11:35 am | Award Winners

The efficiency of internal combustion engines plays a major role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and lowering resource consumption. One specific but important task is ensuring that lubricant oil is not diluted by fuel, thereby hurting viscosity and efficiency. The Da Vinci Fuel-In-Oil (DAFIO) measurement system, developed by Da Vinci Emissions Services Ltd., Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Cummins Inc., is a tool that engineers can use to rapidly—within five to 10 min—develop engines and engine control strategies that minimize the chances of fuel dilution of lubricant oil. The tool replaces the accepted standard method of gas chromatography.

A Cool Geothermal Solution

August 28, 2013 10:22 am | Award Winners

The ClimateMaster Trilogy 40 Q-Mode water-to-air packaged geothermal heat pump unit, developed by ClimateMaster and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is the first geothermal heat pump to exceed a certified cooling efficiency of 40 EER (energy-efficiency ratio) under the AHRI’s part load ground loop rating conditions.

Separate from the Rest

August 28, 2013 9:13 am | Award Winners

Lithium-ion battery separators prevent the anode and cathode layers from contacting each other, allowing cell potential to be maintained and safe operation of the battery. The SYMMETRIX HPX-F polymer-ceramic composite separator, developed by Porous Power Technologies and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, achieves this functionality while improving safety over conventional polyolefin membranes.

Little critters, big energy

August 20, 2013 7:58 am | News | Comments

Tennessee scientists are using one of Earth’s smallest creatures to solve some of the government’s biggest bioenergy problems. For the next three years, a $2.1 million grant is allowing researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to use a process called microbial electrolysis to transform plant biomass into hydrogen to produce energy-rich biofuel for use in combustion engines.


ORNL team uses lignin to power green battery

August 19, 2013 8:24 am | News | Comments

Lignin is a waste material that is produced when paper is manufactured from wood. Instead of disposing of the lignin, a research team at the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has learned how to take the material and convert it into powering a green battery.

ORNL superconducting wire yields unprecedented performance

August 15, 2013 3:40 pm | News | Comments

A team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Amit Goyal, a former R&D Scientist of the Year, has demonstrated that superconducting wires can be tuned to match different operating conditions by introducing small amounts of non-superconducting material, or defects, that influences how the overall material behaves. A wire sample grown with this process exhibited new levels of performance in terms of engineering critical current density.

Neutron’s view of hydrogen yields insight into HIV drug design

August 14, 2013 8:23 am | News | Comments

A new study from an international team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory is guiding drug designers toward improved pharmaceuticals to treat HIV. The scientists used neutrons and x-rays to study the interactions between HIV protease, a protein produced by the HIV virus, and an antiviral drug commonly used to block virus replication.

ORNL finding goes beyond surface of oxide films

August 14, 2013 7:48 am | News | Comments

Better batteries, catalysts, electronic information storage and processing devices are among potential benefits of an unexpected discovery made by Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists using samples isolated from the atmosphere. The researchers learned that key surface properties of complex oxide films are unaffected by reduced levels of oxygen during fabrication, a finding that could help design functional complex oxides.

Research reveals new challenges for mercury cleanup

August 6, 2013 8:01 am | by Jennifer Brouner, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

More forms of mercury can be converted to deadly methylmercury than previously thought, according to a study published in Nature Geoscience.The discovery provides scientists with another piece of the mercury puzzle, bringing them one step closer to understanding the challenges associated with mercury cleanup.

Milestone: First full-scale simulation of an operating nuclear reactor

July 11, 2013 8:20 am | News | Comments

The Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors (CASL) announced that its scientists have successfully completed the first full-scale simulation of an operating nuclear reactor. CASL is modeling nuclear reactors on supercomputers to help researchers better understand reactor performance, with the goal of ultimately increasing power output, extending reactor life and reducing waste.

ORNL wins six 2013 R&D 100 Awards

July 9, 2013 3:38 pm | News | Comments

Researchers at the U.S. Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have received six R&D 100 awards. The six awards bring ORNL's total of R&D 100 awards to 179 since their inception in 1963. This year, ORNL received awards for the following technologies: ClimateMaster Trilogy 40 Q-Mode Geothermal Heat Pump, Distribute The Highest Selected Textual Recommendation, V-shaped External Cavity Laser Diode Array, and more.

Chemistry researchers closing in on new atomic force microscope

July 1, 2013 12:04 pm | by Jim Hannah, Wright State University | News | Comments

Researchers at Wright State University, in partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, are building a new version of a hydrothermal atomic force microscope, an instrument that can look at minerals and other solid surfaces as they react with fluids in their native environment. It could, say its developers, revolutionize the study of materials at high temperatures and pressures.

Unfrozen mystery: Water reveals a new secret

June 11, 2013 8:36 am | News | Comments

A collaboration between Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers and a team led by the Carnegie Institution for Science's Malcolm Guthrie has led to discoveries about how ice behaves under pressure, changing ideas that date back almost 50 years. The findings could alter scientists' understanding of how the water molecule responds to conditions found deep within planets and could have implications for energy science.

All-solid sulfur-based battery outperforms lithium-ion technology

June 5, 2013 2:59 pm | News | Comments

Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have designed and tested an all-solid lithium-sulfur battery with approximately four times the energy density of conventional lithium-ion technologies that power today's electronics. The ORNL battery design, which uses abundant low-cost elemental sulfur, also addresses flammability concerns experienced by other chemistries.

ORNL leads study focused on afterlife of electric vehicle batteries

April 15, 2013 4:15 pm | News | Comments

Once they've finished powering electric vehicles for hundreds of thousands of miles, it may not be the end of the road for automotive batteries. Five used Chevrolet Volt batteries are at the heart of Oak Ridge National Laboratory's effort to determine the feasibility of a community energy storage system that would put electricity onto the grid.

Research shows Gulf of Mexico resilient after spill

April 8, 2013 5:54 pm | News | Comments

The Gulf of Mexico may have a much greater natural ability to self-clean oil spills than previously believed, according to Terry Hazen, University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge National Laboratory Governor's Chair for Environmental Biotechnology. Hazen’s research team used a powerful new approach for identifying microbes in the environment to discover previously unknown and naturally occurring bacteria that consume and break down crude oil.

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