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SNS researchers

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory have new experimental evidence and a predictive theory that solves a long-standing materials science mystery: why certain crystalline materials shrink when heated.

Background image represents the cobalt oxide structure Goodenough demonstrated could produce four volts of electricity with intercalated lithium ions. This early research led to energy storage and performance advances in myriad electronic applications. Credit: Jill Hemman/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Two of the researchers who share the Nobel Prize in Chemistry announced Wednesday—John B. Goodenough of the University of Texas at Austin and M. Stanley Whittingham of Binghamton University in New York—have research ties to ORNL.

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.

The illustrations show how the correlation between lattice distortion and proton binding energy in a material affects proton conduction in different environments. Mitigating this interaction could help researchers improve the ionic conductivity of solid materials.

Ionic conduction involves the movement of ions from one location to another inside a material. The ions travel through point defects, which are irregularities in the otherwise consistent arrangement of atoms known as the crystal lattice. This sometimes sluggish process can limit the performance and efficiency of fuel cells, batteries, and other energy storage technologies.

Researchers analyzed the oxygen structure (highlighted in red) found in a perovskite’s crystal structure at room temperature, 500°C and 900°C using neutron scattering at ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source. Analyzing how these structures impact solid oxide f

A University of South Carolina research team is investigating the oxygen reduction performance of energy conversion materials called perovskites by using neutron diffraction at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Spallation Neutron Source.

Vanadium atoms (blue) have unusually large thermal vibrations that stabilize the metallic state of a vanadium dioxide crystal. Red depicts oxygen atoms.

For more than 50 years, scientists have debated what turns particular oxide insulators, in which electrons barely move, into metals, in which electrons flow freely.