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Light moves through a fiber and stimulates the metal electrons in nanotip into collective oscillations called surface plasmons, assisting electrons to leave the tip. This simple electron nano-gun can be made more versatile via different forms of material composition and structuring. Credit: Ali Passian/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Scientists at ORNL and the University of Nebraska have developed an easier way to generate electrons for nanoscale imaging and sensing, providing a useful new tool for material science, bioimaging and fundamental quantum research.

This photo shows the interior of the vessel of the General Atomics DIII-D National Fusion Facility in San Diego, where ORNL researchers are testing the suitability of tungsten to armor the inside of a fusion device. Credit: General Atomics

The inside of future nuclear fusion energy reactors will be among the harshest environments ever produced on Earth. What’s strong enough to protect the inside of a fusion reactor from plasma-produced heat fluxes akin to space shuttles reentering Earth’s atmosphere?

ORNL’s Drew Elliott served as a major collaborator in upgrading the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory’s Lithium Tokamak Experiment-Beta. Credit: Robert Kaita, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

Lithium, the silvery metal that powers smart phones and helps treat bipolar disorders, could also play a significant role in the worldwide effort to harvest on Earth the safe, clean and virtually limitless fusion energy that powers the sun and stars.

ORNL scientists are currently using Proto-MPEX to perform necessary research and development that is needed to build MPEX. Credit: Genevieve Martin/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Temperatures hotter than the center of the sun. Magnetic fields hundreds of thousands of times stronger than the earth’s. Neutrons energetic enough to change the structure of a material entirely.

Kat Royston

As a teenager, Kat Royston had a lot of questions. Then an advanced-placement class in physics convinced her all the answers were out there.

Postdoctoral researcher Nischal Kafle positions a component for a portable plasma imaging diagnostic device at ORNL in February. The device, a project for ARPA-E, is built of off-the-shelf parts. Credit: Carlos Jones/ORNL

The techniques Theodore Biewer and his colleagues are using to measure whether plasma has the right conditions to create fusion have been around awhile.

Starch granules

Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a new method to peer deep into the nanostructure of biomaterials without damaging the sample. This novel technique can confirm structural features in starch, a carbohydrate important in biofuel production.