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The students analyzed diatom images like this one to compare wild and genetically modified strains of these organisms. Credit: Alison Pawlicki/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, US Department of Energy.

Students often participate in internships and receive formal training in their chosen career fields during college, but some pursue professional development opportunities even earlier.

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.

ORNL staff members (from left) Ashley Shields, Michael Galloway, Ketan Maheshwari and Andrew Miskowiec are collaborating on a project focused on predicting and analyzing crystal structures of new uranium oxide phases. Credit: Jason Richards/ORNL

Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory are working to understand both the complex nature of uranium and the various oxide forms it can take during processing steps that might occur throughout the nuclear fuel cycle.