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When an electron beam drills holes in heated graphene, single-atom vacancies, shown in purple, diffuse until they join with other vacancies to form stationary structures and chains, shown in blue. Credit: Ondrej Dyck/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers serendipitously discovered when they automated the beam of an electron microscope to precisely drill holes in the atomically thin lattice of graphene, the drilled holes closed up.

Jack Cahill of ORNL’s Biosciences Division is developing new techniques to view and measure the previously unseen to better understand important chemical processes at play in plant-microbe interactions and in human health. In this photo, Cahill is positioning a rhizosphere-on-a-chip platform for imaging by mass spectrometry. Credit: Carlos Jones/ORNL, U.S. Dept of Energy

John “Jack” Cahill is out to illuminate previously unseen processes with new technology, advancing our understanding of how chemicals interact to influence complex systems whether it’s in the human body or in the world beneath our feet.

Scientists at ORNL have created a rhizosphere-on-a-chip research platform, a miniaturized environment to study the ecosystem around poplar tree roots for insights into plant health and soil carbon sequestration. Credit: Carlos Jones/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Scientists at ORNL have created a miniaturized environment to study the ecosystem around poplar tree roots for insights into plant health and soil carbon sequestration.

Larry Allard

Larry Allard, a distinguished research staff member at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, has been named a Fellow of the Microanalysis Society.

Samarthya Bhagia examines a sample of a thermoplastic composite material additively manufactured using poplar wood and polylactic acid. Credit: Carlos Jones/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Chemical and environmental engineer Samarthya Bhagia is focused on achieving carbon neutrality and a circular economy by designing new plant-based materials for a range of applications from energy storage devices and sensors to environmentally friendly bioplastics.

Scattering-type scanning near-field optical microscopy, a nondestructive technique in which the tip of the probe of a microscope scatters pulses of light to generate a picture of a sample, allowed the team to obtain insights into the composition of plant cell walls. Credit: Ali Passian/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

To optimize biomaterials for reliable, cost-effective paper production, building construction, and biofuel development, researchers often study the structure of plant cells using techniques such as freezing plant samples or placing them in a vacuum.

Jennifer Morrell-Falvey leads the Molecular and Cellular Imaging group at ORNL, advancing new insights in several scientific areas, including the interactions between plants and microbes that influence ecosystem health and carbon cycling. Credit: Carlos Jones/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Jennifer Morrell-Falvey’s interest in visualizing the science behind natural processes was what drew her to ORNL in what she expected to be a short stint some 18 years ago. 

A smart approach to microscopy and imaging developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory could drive discoveries in materials for future technologies. Credit: Adam Malin/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Researchers at ORNL are teaching microscopes to drive discoveries with an intuitive algorithm, developed at the lab’s Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, that could guide breakthroughs in new materials for energy technologies, sensing and computing.

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory demonstrated center-of-mass scanning transmission electron microscopy to observe lithium along with heavier elements in battery materials at atomic resolution. Credit: Chad Malone/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers demonstrated an electron microscopy technique for imaging lithium in energy storage materials, such as lithium ion batteries, at the atomic scale.

An artist's rendering of the Ultium Cells battery cell production facility to be built in Spring Hill, Tennessee, which will employ 1,300 people. Recognizing the unique expertise of their organizations, ORNL, TVA, and the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development have been working together for several years to bring startups developing battery technologies for EVs and established automotive firms to Tennessee. Credit: Ultium Cells

ORNL, TVA and TNECD were recognized by the Federal Laboratory Consortium for their impactful partnership that resulted in a record $2.3 billion investment by Ultium Cells, a General Motors and LG Energy Solution joint venture, to build a battery cell manufacturing plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee.