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The Perseverance rover

On Feb. 18, the world will be watching as NASA’s Perseverance rover makes its final descent into Jezero Crater on the surface of Mars. Mars 2020 is the first NASA mission that uses plutonium-238 produced at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

ORNL scientists used new techniques to create long lengths of a composite copper-carbon nanotube material with improved properties for use in electric vehicle traction motors. Credit: Andy Sproles/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory used new techniques to create a composite that increases the electrical current capacity of copper wires, providing a new material that can be scaled for use in ultra-efficient, power-dense electric vehicle traction motors.

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.

Simulation of short polymer chains

Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists have discovered a cost-effective way to significantly improve the mechanical performance of common polymer nanocomposite materials.

Drawing of skyrmions spins

Scientists discovered a strategy for layering dissimilar crystals with atomic precision to control the size of resulting magnetic quasi-particles called skyrmions.

ORNL’s Lab-on-a-crystal uses machine learning to correlate materials’ mechanical, optical and electrical responses to dynamic environments. Credit: Ilia Ivanov/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

An all-in-one experimental platform developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences accelerates research on promising materials for future technologies.

Battery materials at interface

Scientists seeking ways to improve a battery’s ability to hold a charge longer, using advanced materials that are safe, stable and efficient, have determined that the materials themselves are only part of the solution.

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.

Colorized micrograph of lily pollen

Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers have built a novel microscope that provides a “chemical lens” for viewing biological systems including cell membranes and biofilms.

Drawing of thin-film cathode technology

Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists seeking the source of charge loss in lithium-ion batteries demonstrated that coupling a thin-film cathode with a solid electrolyte is a rapid way to determine the root cause.