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ORNL's Communications team works with news media seeking information about the laboratory. Media may use the resources listed below or send questions to news@ornl.gov.

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Lighting up liquid crystals

Researchers used neutron scattering at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Spallation Neutron Source to probe the structure of a colorful new material that may pave the way for improved sensors and vivid displays.

Researchers explore the surface chemistry of a copper-chromium-iron oxide catalyst used to generate and purify hydrogen for industrial applications. Credit: Michelle Lehman and Adam Malin/Oak Ridge National Laboratory; U.S. Dept. of Energy.

Collaborators at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and U.S. universities used neutron scattering and other advanced characterization techniques to study how a prominent catalyst enables the “water-gas shift” reaction to purify and generate hydrogen at industrial scale.

Neutrons—Mastering magnetism

Researchers have pioneered a new technique using pressure to manipulate magnetism in thin film materials used to enhance performance in electronic devices.

Materials—Engineering heat transport

Scientists have discovered a way to alter heat transport in thermoelectric materials, a finding that may ultimately improve energy efficiency as the materials convert heat flow into electricity.

Snowflakes indicate phases of super-cold ice

An ORNL-led team's observation of certain crystalline ice phases challenges accepted theories about super-cooled water and non-crystalline ice. Their findings, reported in the journal Nature, will also lead to better understanding of ice and its various phases found on other planets, moons and elsewhere in space.

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.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory develops liquid helium auto-fill technology

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., May 14, 2019—Advanced Research Systems, Inc., has licensed a technology designed to automatically refill liquid helium used in laboratory equipment for low-temperature scientific experiments, which will reduce downtime, recover more helium and increase overall efficiency.

Illustration of the intricate organization of the PKA structure, wherein different parts of the protein are connected through elaborate hydrogen bonding networks (dashed yellow lines), glued together by the hydrophobic assemblies (light blue and orange volumes)—all working together to build the functional active site. Insert shows protonation of the transferred phosphoryl group (cyan mesh) and its many interactions with water and the active site amino acid residues. Credit: Jill Hemman/ORNL

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., March 20, 2019—Direct observations of the structure and catalytic mechanism of a prototypical kinase enzyme—protein kinase A or PKA—will provide researchers and drug developers with significantly enhanced abilities to understand and treat fatal diseases and neurological disorders such as cancer, diabetes, and cystic fibrosis.

Neutron scattering allowed direct observation of how aurein induces lateral segregation in the bacteria membranes, which creates instability in the membrane structure. This instability causes the membranes to fail, making harmful bacteria less effective.

As the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria known as superbugs threatens public health, Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Shuo Qian and Veerendra Sharma from the Bhaba Atomic Research Centre in India are using neutron scattering to study how an antibacterial peptide interacts with and fights harmful bacteria.

Using neutrons from the TOPAZ beamline, which is optimal for locating hydrogen atoms in materials, ORNL researchers observed a single-crystal neutron diffraction structure of the insoluble carbonate salt formed by absorption of carbon dioxide from the air.

Researchers used neutron scattering at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Spallation Neutron Source to investigate the effectiveness of a novel crystallization method to capture carbon dioxide directly from the air.