Research Highlights

Research Highlights

Understanding how different plant-derived sugars affect the physiology of a biofuel-producing microbe

Researcher’s at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the BioEnergy Science Center (BESC) are working to understand how different sugars derived from plant material affect the metabolism of a cellulolytic, biofuel-producing microorganism. Clostridium thermocellum...
Better leak seeking

Novel Air Leak Detection System

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a novel, nontoxic fluorescent air leak detection system that can find cracks in walls and roofs in existing and new buildings. In laboratory experiments, ORNL’s Diana Hun and Brenda Smith used an off-the-shelf humidifier to...
Brillouin Light Scattering has revealed the presence of an interfacial layer that controls mechanical reinforcement. By fitting BLS data (red) with a continuum model (blue) the shear modulus of the interface was determined. Inset: The BE SPM work has enab

Key to mechanical reinforcement of glassy polymer nanocomposites has been unraveled

Scientists have unraveled details of the mechanism of mechanical reinforcement in glassy polymer nanocomposites.1 Measurements in the interfacial layer ~2–4 nm around nanoparticles revealed that Young’s modulus, which defines the relationship between stress and strain in a...
Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Strategy shown for novel tire-derived carbon anodes for sodium-ion batteries

Researchers have demonstrated a process to prepare morphologically tailored carbon materials with good electrochemical capacity Shown are scanning transmission electron microscopy of sulfonated tire-derived carbon treated at 1,100oC (left) and data from a long-...
Charge density slices in the ab-plane of beryl overlain on the beryl structure. A macroscopic green beryl crystal (emerald) is also shown.

Quantum Tunneling of Ultraconfined Water

Scientific Achievement Found that, when confined in the ~ 5 Å wide channels in a beryl crystal, the water molecule undergoes quantum tunneling between six symmetrically equivalent positions around the c-axis in the structure. Significance and Impact First evidence of a new quantum...
Schematic routine for multilevel modeling and refinement of neutron (and X-ray) total scattering data

Neutron Scattering Reveals Interlayer Bonding Interactions In a Novel 2D Electrode Material (MXene)

Scientific Achievement A multilevel modeling and population-based refinement scheme (Figure 1) for neutron total scattering data was developed to capture the true nature of surface termination species present on Ti3C2Tx MXenes (T = surface species, including -OH, -O and -F). The...
Comparison of the VDOS for water and OH groups extracted from INS measurements at incident energies of 250 and 600 meV (circles) with the VDOS extracted from AIMD simulations of the (110) surface of SnO2 (cassiterite).  BH = wagging mode of bridging hydro

Integrated Molecular Simulations and Neutron Scattering Reveal the Energetics of Hydrogen Bonds at a Mineral Surface

Scientific Achievement Inelastic neutron scattering (INS) studies of water sorbed on tin oxide (SnO2, cassiterite) nanoparticle surfaces at low humidity and ab initio molecular dynamics (AIMD) simulations were independently analyzed to extract the vibrational density of states (VDOS) of...
Multimodal analysis of a 500 nm thick phase separated thin-film of  polystyrene/ poly-2-vinylpyridine on a silica substrate

Nanoscale Molecular Cartography of Materials

The advancement of a hybrid atomic force microscopy/mass spectrometry imaging platform demonstrating, for the first time, co-registered topographical, band excitation nanomechanical, and mass spectral imaging of a surface using a single instrument is reported.  The mass spectrometry-based...
This research was featured on the back cover of the journal for the September 1, 2015, issue (issue 36)

Selective Crystallization of Sulfate-Water Clusters

An effective approach to sulfate separation from aqueous solutions was developed based on crystallization of sulfate-water clusters with a simple ligand self-assembled in situ from water-soluble subcomponents.  With a free energy of hydration of –1080 kJ/mol, sulfate is one of the most...
This research was featured on the back cover of the journal on April 7, 2015, (volume 54, issue 15)

Textural Engineering of Phenolic Polymers with a Robust Mesoporous Framework

A hypercrosslinked polymer was synthesized by a Friedel-Crafts alkylation of a phenolic resin with a robust mesoporous framework to avoid framework shrinkage and maximize retention of organic functional groups. ORNL researchers successfully developed a soft chemistry synthetic strategy...
Multidimensional transient absorption microscopy data shows regions with either excitons (red) or free charge carriers (blue), but the majority of the image contains a mixture. Isolating the signatures of these distinct photoexcitations enables quantitati

Spatially Resolving the Coexistence of Photoexcitations in Complex Materials

Spatial localization of distinct photoexcited species were identified in light harvesting perovskite based materials using ultrafast transient absorption microscopy (TAM).  Organometal halide perovskite-based solar cells represent a major breakthrough in emerging photovoltaic technology...
Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Polymer Molecular Weight Affects Nanocomposite Properties in an Unexpected Way

Contradicting theoretical expectations, researchers discovered that increased molecular weight of a polymer significantly reduces The relative average mass density of the polymer matrix (hi-res image) the influence of nanoparticles on macroscopic properties of polymer...
Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Precipitation in Pores: A Geochemical Frontier

Scientific Achievement The effects of porous media on precipitation reactions are shown to be important, but poorly understood. Significance and Impact Geochemical reactions within rocks and soils occur in pores.  Yet, there is not agreement on how the pores affect the...
Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Selective Crystallization of Sulfate-Water Clusters

This research was featured on the back cover of the journal for the September 1, 2015, issue (issue 36) (hi-res image) An effective approach to sulfate separation from aqueous solutions was developed based on crystallization of sulfate-water clusters with a simple ligand...

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