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The first neutron structure of the SARS-CoV-2 main protease enzyme revealed unexpected electrical charges in the amino acids cysteine (negative) and histidine (positive), providing key data about the virus’s replication. Credit: Jill Hemman/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

To better understand how the novel coronavirus behaves and how it can be stopped, scientists have completed a three-dimensional map that reveals the location of every atom in an enzyme molecule critical to SARS-CoV-2 reproduction.

Sarah Cousineau

Two scientists with the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have been elected fellows of the American Physical Society.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory entrance sign

Geoffrey L. Greene, a professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, who holds a joint appointment with ORNL, will be awarded the 2021 Tom Bonner Prize for Nuclear Physics from the American Physical Society.

Substituting deuterium for hydrogen makes methylammonium heavier and slows its swaying so it can interact with vibrations that remove heat, keeping charge carriers hot longer. Credit: Jill Hemman/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Led by ORNL and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, a study of a solar-energy material with a bright future revealed a way to slow phonons, the waves that transport heat.

Schematic showing cholesterol stiffening DOPC membranes, making them flatter and thicker. Credit: Jill Hemman/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Neutron scattering at ORNL has shown that cholesterol stiffens simple lipid membranes, a finding that may help us better understand the functioning of human cells.

The n-helium-3 precision experiment, conducted at ORNL, measured the weak force between protons and neutrons by detecting the tiny electrical signal produced when a neutron and a helium-3 nucleus combine and then decay as they move through the helium gas target cell. Credit: Andy Sproles/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Through a one-of-a-kind experiment at ORNL, nuclear physicists have precisely measured the weak interaction between protons and neutrons. The result quantifies the weak force theory as predicted by the Standard Model of Particle Physics.

Fuel pellets sometimes degrade to a sandlike consistency and can disperse into the reactor core if a rod’s cladding bursts. ORNL researchers are studying how often this happens and what impact it has, in order to let reactors operate as long as possible without increasing risk.

A developing method to gauge the occurrence of a nuclear reactor anomaly has the potential to save millions of dollars.

VERA’s tools allow a virtual window inside the reactor core, down to a molecular level.

As CASL ends and transitions to VERA Users Group, ORNL looks at the history of the program and its impact on the nuclear industry.

Enzyme activity during organophosphate poisoning

Pick your poison. It can be deadly for good reasons such as protecting crops from harmful insects or fighting parasite infection as medicine — or for evil as a weapon for bioterrorism. Or, in extremely diluted amounts, it can be used to enhance beauty.

four circle diffractometer

A UCLA-led team that discovered the first intrinsic ferromagnetic topological insulator – a quantum material that could revolutionize next-generation electronics – used neutrons at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to help verify their finding.