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ORNL’s Marcel Demarteau inspects experiments along Neutrino Alley at the Spallation Neutron Source, which makes neutrinos as a byproduct. Credit: Genevieve Martin/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Marcel Demarteau is director of the Physics Division at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. For topics from nuclear structure to astrophysics, he shapes ORNL’s physics research agenda.

A Co-Optima research team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Jim Szybist in collaboration with Argonne, Sandia and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, created a merit function tool that evaluates six fuel properties and their impact on engine performance, giving the scientific community a guide to quickly evaluate biofuels. Credit: ORNL/U.S. Dept. of Energy

As ORNL’s fuel properties technical lead for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Co-Optimization of Fuel and Engines, or Co-Optima, initiative, Jim Szybist has been on a quest for the past few years to identify the most significant indicators for predicting how a fuel will perform in engines designed for light-duty vehicles such as passenger cars and pickup trucks.


A multi-institutional team, led by a group of investigators at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, has been studying various SARS-CoV-2 protein targets, including the virus’s main protease. The feat has earned the team a finalist nomination for the Association of Computing Machinery, or ACM, Gordon Bell Special Prize for High Performance Computing-Based COVID-19 Research.

stacked poplar logs

Popular wisdom holds tall, fast-growing trees are best for biomass, but new research by two U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories reveals that is only part of the equation.

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.

Xunxiang Hu, a Eugene P. Wigner Fellow in ORNL’s Materials Science and Technology Division, designed this machine to produce large, crack-free pieces of yttrium hydride to be used as a moderator in the core of ORNL’s Transformational Challenge Reactor and other microreactors. Credit: Xunxiang Hu/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

About 60 years ago, scientists discovered that a certain rare earth metal-hydrogen mixture, yttrium, could be the ideal moderator to go inside small, gas-cooled nuclear reactors.

3D-printed 316L steel has been irradiated along with traditionally wrought steel samples. Researchers are comparing how they perform at various temperatures and varying doses of radiation. Credit: Jaimee Janiga/ORNL

It’s a new type of nuclear reactor core. And the materials that will make it up are novel — products of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s advanced materials and manufacturing technologies.

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.

Yanwen Zhang

In the search to create materials that can withstand extreme radiation, Yanwen Zhang, a researcher at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, says that materials scientists must think outside the box.

At the U.S. Department of Energy Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL, this part for a scaled-down prototype of a reactor was produced for industry partner Kairos Power.

Scientists at the Department of Energy Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL have their eyes on the prize: the Transformational Challenge Reactor, or TCR, a microreactor built using 3D printing and other new approaches that will be up and running by 2023.