May 20, 2015 — Not all plastics are created equal. Malleable thermoplastics can be easily melted and reused in products such as food containers. Other plastics, called thermosets, are essentially stuck in their final form because of cross-linking chemical bonds that give them their strength for applications such as golf balls and car tires.
PART I, The Making of a Geochemist: Q&A with Andrew Stack
March 04, 2015 — Scientists who bridge disciplines often take research in new directions. Andrew Stack of the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory calls on his expertise in geology, chemistry and computing to advance understanding of the dynamics of minerals underground.
Atomic trigger shatters mystery of how glass deforms
October 17, 2014 — Throw a rock through a window made of silica glass, and the brittle, insulating oxide pane shatters. But whack a golf ball with a club made of metallic glass—a resilient conductor that looks like metal—and the glass not only stays intact but also may drive the ball farther than conventional clubs. In light of this contrast, the nature of glass seems anything but clear.
Materials science matchmaker
September 25, 2014 — Scientific research may be the primary focus of the Department of Energy’s national laboratories, but for David Mandrus, the institutions play an equally important role in shaping the instruction and career paths of students.
September 16, 2014 — When Orlando Rios first started analyzing samples of carbon fibers made from a woody plant polymer known as lignin, he noticed something unusual. The material’s microstructure -- a mixture of perfectly spherical nanoscale crystallites distributed within a fibrous matrix -- looked almost too good to be true.
A Metallic Alloy That is Tough and Ductile at Cryogenic Temperatures
September 09, 2014 — A new concept in metallic alloy design – called “high‐entropy alloys” - has yielded a multiple-element material that not only tests out as one of the toughest on record, but, unlike most materials, the toughness as well as the strength and ductility of this alloy actually improves at cryogenic temperatures.
Materials Scientists Play Atomic ‘Jenga’ and Make a Surprising Discovery
August 28, 2014 — Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory got a surprise when they built a highly ordered lattice by layering thin films containing lanthanum, strontium, oxygen and iron. Although each layer had an intrinsically nonpolar (symmetric) distribution of electrical charges, the lattice had an asymmetric distribution of charges.
Scientists learn to control reactions with the shape of a rare-earth catalyst
August 27, 2014 — Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have discovered they can control chemical reactions in a new way by creating different shapes of cerium oxide, a rare-earth-based catalyst. Their finding holds potential for refining fuels, decreasing vehicle emissions, producing commodity chemicals and advancing fuel cells and chemical sensors.
Scientists develop low-voltage water splitter that uses abundant materials
August 25, 2014 — In 2015, American consumers will finally be able to purchase fuel cell cars from Toyota and other manufacturers. Although touted as zero-emissions vehicles, most of the cars will run on hydrogen made from natural gas, a fossil fuel that contributes to global warming.
August 25, 2014 — If such a designation existed, Nazanin Bassiri-Gharb would be on the fast track to becoming an Oak Ridge National Laboratory “super user.