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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.

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.

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.

Scanning probe microscopes use an atom-sharp tip—only a few nanometers thick—to image materials on a nanometer length scale. The probe tip, invisible to the eye, is attached to a cantilever (pictured) that moves across material surfaces like the tone arm on a record player. Credit: Genevieve Martin/Oak Ridge National Laboratory; U.S. Dept. of Energy.

Liam Collins was drawn to study physics to understand “hidden things” and honed his expertise in microscopy so that he could bring them to light.

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.

Researchers at the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences demonstrated an insect-inspired, mechanical gyroscope to advance motion sensing capabilities in consumer-sized applications. Credit: Jill Hemman/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S Dept. of Energy

Researchers at ORNL and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory took inspiration from flying insects to demonstrate a miniaturized gyroscope, a special sensor used in navigation technologies. 

Desalination process

A new method developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory improves the energy efficiency of a desalination process known as solar-thermal evaporation. 

At the salt–metal interface, thermodynamic forces drive chromium from the bulk of a nickel alloy, leaving a porous, weakened layer. Impurities in the salt drive further corrosion of the structural material. Credit: Stephen Raiman/Oak Ridge National Labora

Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists analyzed more than 50 years of data showing puzzlingly inconsistent trends about corrosion of structural alloys in molten salts and found one factor mattered most—salt purity.


While studying the genes in poplar trees that control callus formation, scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have uncovered genetic networks at the root of tumor formation in several human cancers.

From left, Amit Naskar, Ngoc Nguyen and Christopher Bowland in ORNL’s Carbon and Composites Group bring a new capability—structural health monitoring—to strong, lightweight materials promising for transportation applications.

Carbon fiber composites—lightweight and strong—are great structural materials for automobiles, aircraft and other transportation vehicles. They consist of a polymer matrix, such as epoxy, into which reinforcing carbon fibers have been embedded. Because of differences in the mecha...