Archived Features for 2011
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ORNL technology could mean improved prosthesis fitting, design
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Dec. 28, 2011 Soldiers returning from war who have lost a leg could lead a more active
Battery-powered Christmas carol: A trip down memory (effect) lane
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Dec. 21, 2011 As consumers anticipate unwrapping the latest electronic gadget during the holidays, they may not give much thought to how long their shiny devices will last. But it's a topic under significant consideration at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where researchers such as Claus Daniel are working to understand a critical lifetime component in these devices -- the battery.
SANS tracks cell death protein invading biomimetic mitochondrial membrane
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Dec. 14, 2011 An international team of biochemists, biophysicists, and neutron scientists are using a combination of fluorescence and small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) techniques to assist biochemists in better understanding how a protein associated with cell death incorporates into membranes.
ORNL summer interns take top prize at Siemens Competition
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Dec. 7, 2011 Oak Ridge High School students Cassee Cain and Ziyuan Liu are the team winners of the 2011 Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology, announced Monday, Dec. 5, in Washington, D.C.
Mars 'Curiosity' has ORNL tech
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Nov. 28, 2011 The Curiosity rover that was launched toward Mars over the Thanksgiving holiday includes a significant contribution from ORNL and DOE. The mobile instrument platform, which is too large to rely on solar-powered batteries, contains a plutonium oxide-powered generator, as do all of NASA's deep-space probes such as Voyager and Cassini.
In Alaska's backyard
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Nov. 23, 2011 Making well-informed computational models of an ever changing, vast Alaskan landscape presents challenges that Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers are working to overcome.
Q&A with Cassee Cain and Ziyuan Liu
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Nov. 17, 2011 Oak Ridge High School students Cassee Cain and Ziyuan Liu won the regional championship and a $6,000 team scholarship at the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology Nov. 5 at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Under the guidance of Boyd Evans and John Mueller, ORNL biomedical engineers, Cain and Liu developed a project that uses Kinect for Xbox 360 and Computer Vision to analyze human gait. The results may aid in the development of an accurate, affordable device to detect abnormal gait patterns.
Three ORNL Supercomputers in Top 20 at SC11
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Nov. 16, 2011 Supercomputers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory claimed three spots in the top 20 of the TOP500 list, high-performance computing's biannual rankings of the world's most powerful computers. The latest TOP500 tally was released Nov. 14 at SC11, high-performance computing's premier conference, in Seattle, Wash.
Igniting Innovation and Inspiration
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Nov. 15, 2011 Legend has it that Prometheus brought us the gift of fire—a gift of comfort, innovation and even inspiration.
Interview: Collin Broholm
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Nov. 15, 2011 Collin Broholm, a leader in the international neutron scattering community, recently joined ORNL's Neutron Sciences Directorate as a joint faculty appointment with Johns Hopkins University. He will spend approximately 25 percent of his time working at ORNL.
'A little chaos near the edge'
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Nov. 2, 2011 Heated to extreme temperatures of up to 150 million degrees Celsius, the plasma in ITER's giant experimental fusion reactor will be fed a fuel of frozen pellets of deuterium-tritium, fired into the tokamak vacuum vessel by pellet injectors. Testing of the most recent pellet injection design technology developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory and US ITER is under way this fall at the DIII-D research tokamak in San Diego, operated by General Atomics for the Department of Energy through the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences.
Unexpected Magnetic Excitations in Doped Insulator Surprise Researchers
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Oct. 21, 2011 When doping a disordered magnetic insulator material with atoms of a nonmagnetic material, the conventional wisdom is that the magnetic interactions between the magnetic ions in the material will be weakened.
Ancient artifacts yield their secrets under neutron imaging
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Oct. 12, 2011 For the first time, neutron images in 3 dimensions have been taken of rare archaeological artifacts here at ORNL. Bronze and brass artifacts excavated at the ancient city of Petra, in Jordan were recently imaged in 3 dimensions using neutrons at HFIR's CG-1D Neutron Imaging instrument. The data that is now being analyzed will for the first time give eager archeologists and ancient historians significant, otherwise wholly inaccessible insight into the manufacturing and lives of cultures that once occupied settlements within the Roman Empire, Middle East, and Colonial-period New England.
Q&A with Brian Wirth
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Sep. 29, 2011 Brian Wirth is an Oak Ridge National Laboratory-University of Tennessee Governor's Chair for computational nuclear engineering. He is the co-editor, along with Kurt Edsinger of the Electric Power Research Institute and Chris Stanek of Los Alamos National Laboratory, of a special issue of the Journal of Metals on computational modeling of nuclear fuel performance. Wirth, Edsinger and Stanek also author two articles in the edition.
'Low tech' light in neutron beam illuminates photosynthesis in bacteria
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Sep. 27, 2011 Researchers at the Bio-SANS instrument at the High Flux Isotope Reactor are getting a leg up in their research from an ingenious "low tech" lighting tool that can be fixed to their samples and then pushed directly into the neutron beam, to illuminate the response of layers of cyanobacteria to changes in light.
Simulating Turbulent Combustion Speeds Design
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Sep. 21, 2011 Air and fuel mix violently during turbulent combustion. The ferocious mixing needed to ignite fuel and sustain its burning is governed by the same fluid dynamics equations that depict smoke swirling lazily from a chimney. Large swirls spin off smaller swirls and so on. The multiple scales of swirls pose a challenge to the supercomputers that solve those equations to simulate turbulent combustion. Researchers rely on these simulations to develop clean-energy technologies for power and propulsion.
Industry and neutron science
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Sep. 21, 2011 Industrial users are starting to eye the potential of neutron science for solving problems that can't be solved in any other way. At the same time, the Spallation Neutron Source and High Flux Isotope Reactor neutron science facilities at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are exploring ways to woo such users and to make a match of it, to the benefit of both.
Special report highlights 'greatest hits' of scientific supercomputing
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Sep. 2, 2011 In 2007, a report that concluded that the Earth was warming, probably as a result of human activities, resulted in a share of the Nobel Peace Prize. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's next assessment, expected in 2014, once again includes simulation data generated from DOE leadership supercomputers, this time at Oak Ridge and Argonne national laboratories. Next a team of researchers, led by Warren Washington of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, will use a 2011 allocation of 110 million processor hours at Argonne and Oak Ridge to begin the generation of the largest treasure trove of climate data to date.
SNS, HFIR experiments help refine thin-film solar cells
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Sep. 1, 2011 Solar cells that convert sunlight into electricity could be a widely used renewable energy source. Getting to that point, though, requires breakthroughs in their cost and their efficiency at turning sunbeams into electric current. Neutron scattering experiments conducted at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are helping solar cell makers obtain the hard data they need to refine their materials and manufacturing processes.
Need for new magnet materials drives ORNL research
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Sep. 1, 2011 Increasing demand and a shrinking supply of rare earth elements for magnets creates a perfect opportunity for a research team from Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Minnesota. The goal is to create a recipe for a replacement that doesn't use scarce ingredients.
Clamping down on copper theft
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Aug. 30, 2011 Upswings in the price of copper have inspired thieves across the country to steal any amount of the valuable metal, widely found in applications from catalytic converters to HVAC units. In addition to the high costs of replacing the stolen material, hastily attempted copper thefts can result in utility blackouts and deaths by electrocution.
Energy and environmental solutions under our feet
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Aug. 22, 2011 When you heat water in a kettle, you can make tea or coffee. But what happens if the vessel is sealed? Ultimately, at a temperature called the liquid-gas critical point, the density of the liquid and the vapor become identical: There is no more water, there is no more gas. What you have is a supercritical fluid.
Single microbial gene linked to increased ethanol tolerance
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Aug. 12, 2011 A team of researchers from the Department of Energy's BioEnergy Science Center has pinpointed a single, key gene in a microbe that could help streamline the production of biofuels from non-food sources.
New spin on friction-stir
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., July 25, 2011 Researchers Zhili Feng, Alan Frederic and Stan David in Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Materials S&T Division have made significant progress toward a new metal processing technique, called friction-stir extrusion, that could represent a major advance in converting recyclable materials -- such as alloys of aluminum, magnesium and titanium alloys, and even high-temperature superconductors -- to useful products.
Catching Alzheimer's in the act
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., July 21, 2011 Like a thief hidden in the brain, the neurodegenerative disease called Alzheimer's steals away memory as it gradually destroys brain cells, changing personalities and disrupting lives in the process.
It Takes Three to Tango
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., July 12, 2011 The nucleus of an atom, like most everything else, is more complicated than we first thought. Just how much more complicated is the subject of a Petascale Early Science project led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory's David Dean.
Recovering the research
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., June 29, 2011 In addition to donating $20,000 to aid in the Japanese earthquake and tsunami relief efforts, Oak Ridge National Laboratory is helping displaced Japanese colleagues in neutron science continue their research.
Beam line 13 fuels discovery fever for fundamental physicists
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., June 23, 2011 The simplest, most sensible "Big Bang" universe, theoretical physicists believe, would be one in which equal numbers of particles and antiparticles are formed in pairs. As the universe cools, most of these particles would encounter their antiparticles, and they would annihilate.
Startling thermal energy behavior revealed by neutron scattering
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., June 21, 2011 A discovery by researchers working at the Spallation Neutron Source upends long held assumptions about the microscopic behavior of materials in an equilibrium condition. The findings could influence further research in advanced materials, communication and optical systems, and thermoelectric materials that use differences in temperature to produce electricity.
Packing the ions
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., June 16, 2011 Flat is in the eye of the beholder.
Researchers Pinpoint How Copper Folds Protein into Precursors of Parkinson's Plaques
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., June 14, 2011 Aided by the Jaguar supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), researchers at North Carolina State University have figured out how copper induces misfolding in the protein associated with Parkinson's disease, leading to creation of the fibrillar plaques which characterize the disease. This finding has implications for both the study of Parkinson's progression, as well as for future treatments.
The curious case of germanium-72
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., June 1, 2011 There's a lot we don't know about the atomic nucleus, even though it was discovered a century ago this year.
DOE program reaches thousands of students with 'farming for fuels' program
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., June 1, 2011 More than 34,000 youngsters, teachers and parents around the country have had a chance to learn about bioenergy through hands-on experiments that are part of an outreach effort by the Department of Energy's BioEnergy Science Center.
First-ever sub-nanoscale snapshots of renegade protein in Huntington's Disease
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., May 18, 2011 An ORNL-University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine collaboration has for the first time successfully characterized the earliest structural formation of the disease type of the protein "huntingtin" that creates such havoc in Huntington's Disease The incurable, hereditary neurological disorder is always fatal and affects 1 in 10,000 Americans.
Silver ionic liquids are powerful solvents for oil industry
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., May 16, 2011 The separation of olefins and paraffin, two hydrocarbon compounds in petroleum waste streams, is a heavy expense for the petrochemical industry. The existing technology consumes a lot of energy because the olefin-paraffin pairs have similar boiling and evaporation properties, making it difficult and costly to separate them. Companies are looking for techniques that reduce energy consumption and that economically recycle such waste streams.
Nature still sets standard for nanoscience revolution
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., April 18, 2011 By striving for control and perfection in everything from computer chips to commercial jets, scientists and engineers actually exclude a fundamental force that allows nature to outperform even their best efforts.
ORNL rifle sighting system uses sensors to score bull's-eye
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., April 15, 2011 Military and police marksmen could see their rifle sights catch up with the 21st century with a fiber-optic laser-based sensor system that automatically corrects for even tiny barrel disruptions.
Venerable early Jaguar system retires
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., April 15, 2011 ORNL lost a computing powerhouse with the March retirement of the Jaguar XT4 supercomputer.
Jaguar supercomputer harnesses heat for fusion energy
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., April 15, 2011 University of California-Irvine researcher Zhihong Lin is using the Jaguar supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to study fusion reactions, which produce helium from hydrogen and release energy in the process, in hopes of igniting ITER, an experimental fusion reactor being built in southern France.
Thermoelectric materials: recycling energy
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., March 30, 2011 For some years now, NASA has been using what are called thermoelectric materials to power its space probes. The probes travel such great distances from our sun that solar panels are no longer an efficient source of power. So NASA imbeds a nuclear material in a radioisotope thermal generator, where it decays, producing heat energy. That energy is then converted by thermoelectric materials into the electricity that powers the space probe. The same technology is now being explored for more earthly applications, for example, to capture heat lost in the exhaust of automobiles to produce electricity for the vehicle.
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., March 29, 2011 As part of the Obama Administration's Startup America Initiative, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced the "America's Next Top Energy Innovator" challenge, which will give start-up companies the opportunity to obtain option agreements to license groundbreaking technologies developed by the National Laboratories for $1,000 and build successful businesses.
Japan earthquake, tsunami spell need for preparedness
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., March 28, 2011 Perhaps lost in the recent debates related to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan is that natural disasters and not nuclear energy should be the focus, says Oak Ridge National Laboratory's John Sorensen, an emergency preparedness expert.
SNS user finds 'perfect instrument' for materials research
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., March 24, 2011 Stress, fatigue and heavy loads aren't always negative elements of work - in fact, they are what attracted Jennifer Forrester to the Spallation Neutron Source at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Exploring the magnetic personalities of stars
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., March 3, 2011 Massive stars are inherently violent creatures-they burn, they churn, they turn, all the while creating and held hostage by constantly changing magnetic fields of almost unfathomable strength.
Computational scientists use supercomputers at Oak Ridge to explore ice sheet dynamics
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Feb. 25, 2011 Recently, Rhode Island-sized chunks of ice have separated from Greenland and Antarctica, garnering worldwide attention. But is this calving due to typical seasonal variations or a long-term warmer world? Climate scientists already use ice sheet models to better understand how ice loss affects sea levels; however, those models are not easily adapted for use in global climate models. In August the Scalable, Efficient, and Accurate Community Ice Sheet Model project began on Jaguar, one of the world's fastest supercomputers, at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. SEACISM's aim is to use state-of-the-art simulation to predict the behavior of ice sheets under a changing climate by developing scalable algorithms.
Whole-genome sequencing simulated on supercomputers
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Feb. 24, 2011 The Human Genome Project paved the way for genomics, the study of an organism's genome. Personalized genomics can establish the relationship between DNA sequence variations among individuals and their health conditions and responses to drugs and treatments. To make genome sequencing a routine procedure, however, the time must be reduced to less than a day and the cost to less than $1,000—a feat not possible with current knowledge and technologies.
Another high-definition plasma
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Feb. 23, 2011 The sight of an aurora evokes feelings of mystery and awe in the weekend star gazer and scientist alike. The stargazer may ponder the vastness of our universe or how such vivid color can be created in space, but for the scientist, the questions lie in the composition of the aurora—and how little we actually know about it.
Innovations in manufacturing
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Feb. 16, 2011 Oak Ridge National Laboratory's science and technology resources are transforming the next generation of scientific discovery and helping to rebuild and revitalize U.S. manufacturing. From concept to commercialization, ORNL's facilities and expertise enable the deployment of innovative manufacturing and materials technologies, and the laboratory's aggressive commercialization program provides technology-based solutions to industries engaged in virtually every sector of the nation's economy.
ORNL helping surgeons, patients
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Feb. 2, 2011 Math and medicine are coming together to help people who have suffered an abdominal aortic aneurysm, which with 15,000 is the 13th-leading cause of death in the United States.
Cited in the SOTU
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Jan. 26, 2011 President Obama, in his State of the Union address Tuesday, cited work being performed at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory as an example of cutting edge research aimed at solving the energy challenge. His text: "... if they assemble teams of the best minds in their fields, and focus on the hardest problems in clean energy, we'll fund the Apollo Projects of our time. At the California Institute of Technology, they're developing a way to turn sunlight and water into fuel for our cars. At Oak Ridge National Laboratory, they're using supercomputers to get a lot more power out of our nuclear facilities. With more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels, and become the first country to have 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015." Watch the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=9ZdEmjtF6HE#t=14m37s Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors: http://www.casl.gov/
Neutrons 'go viral' at ORNL
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Jan. 21, 2011 Without a host, a virus is a dormant package of proteins, genetic material and occasional lipids. Once inside a living cell, however, a virus can latch onto cell parts and spring into action - mutating, replicating and spreading into new cells.
Neighbor lends a hand
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Jan. 14, 2011 Scientists and engineers at the Spallation Neutron Source at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are working with the U.S. ITER Project Office at ORNL, the Japanese Atomic Energy Agency and the ITER Organization to resolve issues with a critical component of the experimental fusion energy facility ITER. The VULCAN Engineering Diffractometer at SNS is being used to examine superconducting cables for ITER's central solenoid magnet, which induces the electrical current needed to confine and shape the plasma inside the reactor.
Making radioactive 63Ni to target explosives
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Jan. 3, 2011 When Transportation Security Administration (TSA) inspectors