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Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Ramesh Bhave co-invented a process to recover high-purity rare earth elements from scrapped magnets of computer hard drives (shown here) and other post-consumer wastes. Credit: Carlos Jones/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Rare earth elements are the “secret sauce” of numerous advanced materials for energy, transportation, defense and communications applications.

Geneticist Liane B. Russell was one of Oak Ridge National Laboratory's most renowned and accomplished researchers.

Mammalian genetics pioneer Liane B. Russell died Saturday, July 20. She was 95. Lee, as she was known to friends and colleagues, arrived in Oak Ridge in 1947 with her husband, William L. Russell, to study radiation-induced health effects using mice, which are genetically similar to humans.

Kevin (left) and Ryan (right) Gaddis are grandsons of Glen Ellis, who worked as a draftsman at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the 1960s and drew the plans for NASA’s contingency soil sampler, or “moon scoop,” used to collect lunar soil and rock on the Apollo missions. The brothers both work at ORNL. Credit: Carlos Jones/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy.

Just minutes after taking one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind, Neil Armstrong deviated from NASA’s meticulously crafted flight plan for the Apollo 11 mission. According to NASA’s lunar surface operations plan, Armstrong’s top priority after his famous first steps should have been to immediately take a contingency sample—a small sample of soil—to provide scientists at least a piece of the moon if the mission had to be abandoned early.

Alex Johs at ORNL's Spallation Neutron Source

Sometimes solutions to the biggest problems can be found in the smallest details. The work of biochemist Alex Johs at Oak Ridge National Laboratory bears this out, as he focuses on understanding protein structures and molecular interactions to resolve complex global problems like the spread of mercury pollution in waterways and the food supply.

The core of a wind turbine blade by XZERES Corporation was produced at the MDF using Cincinnati Incorporated equipment for large-scale 3D printing with foam.

In the shifting landscape of global manufacturing, American ingenuity is once again giving U.S companies an edge with radical productivity improvements as a result of advanced materials and robotic systems developed at the Department of Energy’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (MDF) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Organic chemist Santa Jansone-Popova designs new chemical architectures to support chemical separations that lay the groundwork for clean water and energy advances.

An organic chemist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Santa Jansone-Popova focuses on the fundamental challenges of chemical separations that translate to world-changing solutions for clean water and sustainable energy.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Chris Petrie assembles a fiber optic sensor, fabricated using additive manufacturing, for measuring dimensional changes. Petrie is developing fiber optic–based sensors that can offer greater insights into how materials, such as fuel cladding, perform during irradiation testing inside ORNL’s High Flux Isotope Reactor. Credit: Carlos Jones/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

With operating licenses for nearly all nuclear power plants set to expire in the 2030s and 40s—a pending loss that would affect a fifth of the country’s electricity supply—U.S. utilities will need to find a way to respond to what has been called the “nuclear cliff.”

The researchers used the new model to accurately identify clusters of gene mutations (spheres), which helped them study the emergence of various genetic diseases. Image credit: Ivaylo Ivanov, Georgia State University.

Environmental conditions, lifestyle choices, chemical exposure, and foodborne and airborne pathogens are among the external factors that can cause disease. In contrast, internal genetic factors can be responsible for the onset and progression of diseases ranging from degenerative neurological disorders to some cancers.

Samples of 70% dark chocolate prepared for study with the USANS instrument at the Spallation Neutron Source. (Credit: ORNL/Genevieve Martin)

Tempering, the heating process that gives chocolate its appealing sheen and creamy texture, is a crucial part of crafting quality chocolate. But, at the molecular level, it gets a little tricky, and when done incorrectly, can render entire batches of chocolate gritty and unappetizing.

ORNL researcher Ben Ollis is optimizing ORNL-developed control systems for a range of projects in which solar energy, energy storage and other locally sited power assets known as microgrids provide reliable, secure electricity to homes and businesses.

While learning the ins and outs of utility operations as a part-time dispatcher during college, Ben Ollis coped with issues from storm-damaged power lines to transformer faults caused by snakes crawling into substation equipment (yes, it’s a real problem).