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Two ORNL researchers receive DOE early career funding awards

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., June 21, 2018 – Two Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers specializing in neutron and chemical science are among 84 recipients of Department of Energy’s Office of Science Early Career Research Program awards.

The Early Career Research Program, now in its ninth year, supports the development of individual research programs of outstanding scientists early in their careers and stimulates research careers in the disciplines supported by the DOE Office of Science.

“Supporting talented researchers early in their career is key to building and maintaining a skilled and effective scientific workforce for the nation. By investing in the next generation of scientific researchers, we are supporting lifelong discovery science to fuel the nation’s innovation system,” said Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. “We are proud of the accomplishments these young scientists have already made, and look forward to following their achievements in years to come.”

Huibo Cao, of ORNL’s Neutron Scattering Division, was selected for his proposal, “Local site magnetic susceptibility for quantum materials by polarized neutron diffraction,” by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences.

His project seeks to develop high performance polarized neutron diffraction techniques to gain a better understanding of the interactions that lead to magnetic quantum phenomena in quantum materials such as quantum spin liquids, topological insulators and Weyl semimetals. The methods can be used to solve a number of scientific questions in quantum materials and accelerate the development of new quantum materials and future technologies.

Benjamin Doughty, of ORNL’s Chemical Sciences Division, was selected by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences for his proposal, “Chemical Organization, Structure and Dynamics at Complex Liquid-Liquid Interfaces: Mechanistic Insight into Selective Solvent Extraction and Self-Assembly.”

Doughty’s research will examine the structure and dynamics of the molecularly thin interface between two liquids during chemical extraction processes. He will probe liquid-liquid interfaces with surface-specific spectroscopies and neutron scattering methods to understand the unique characteristics of interfacial molecules and advance the design of selective and rapid chemical separations.

National lab recipients will receive at least $500,000 per year to cover year-round salary plus research expenses over a planned five years. The final details for each project award are subject to final grant and contract negotiations between DOE and the awardees.

ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. DOE’s Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit