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ORNL’s Sergei Kalinin and Rama Vasudevan (foreground) use scanning probe microscopy to study bulk ferroelectricity and surface electrochemistry -- and generate a lot of data. Credit: Jason Richards/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

At the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, scientists use artificial intelligence, or AI, to accelerate the discovery and development of materials for energy and information technologies.

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.

Distinguished Inventors

Six scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory were named Battelle Distinguished Inventors, in recognition of obtaining 14 or more patents during their careers at the lab.


Seven ORNL scientists have been named among the 2020 Highly Cited Researchers list, according to Clarivate, a data analytics firm that specializes in scientific and academic research.

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.

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.

Paul Abraham uses mass spectrometry to study proteins.

Systems biologist Paul Abraham uses his fascination with proteins, the molecular machines of nature, to explore new ways to engineer more productive ecosystems and hardier bioenergy crops.

The CrossVis application includes a parallel coordinates plot (left), a tiled image view (right) and other interactive data views. Credit: Chad Steed/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

From materials science and earth system modeling to quantum information science and cybersecurity, experts in many fields run simulations and conduct experiments to collect the abundance of data necessary for scientific progress.

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.