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ORNL's Communications team works with news media seeking information about the laboratory. Media may use the resources listed below or send questions to news@ornl.gov.

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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.

A structural model of HgcA, shown in cyan, and HgcB, shown in purple, were created using metagenomic techniques to better understand the transformation of mercury into its toxic form, methylmercury. Photo credit: Connor Cooper/ORNL, U.S. Dept of Energy

A team led by ORNL created a computational model of the proteins responsible for the transformation of mercury to toxic methylmercury, marking a step forward in understanding how the reaction occurs and how mercury cycles through the environment.

Ecosystem Ecologist Verity Salmon captures and analyzes field data from sites in in Alaska and Minnesota to inform earth system models that are being used to predict environmental change.

While some of her earth system modeling colleagues at ORNL face challenges such as processor allocation or debugging code, Verity Salmon prepares for mosquito swarms and the possibility of grizzly bears.

Researchers discovered the Tennessee cavesnail, Antrorbis tennesseensis, in caves near Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The snail measures in at less than 2 millimeters long. Credit: Nathaniel Shoobs and Matthew Niemiller

Sometimes conducting big science means discovering a species not much larger than a grain of sand.

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.

Examples from the ORNL Overhead Vehicle Dataset, generated with images captured by GRIDSMART cameras. Image: Thomas Karnowski/ORNL

Each year, approximately 6 billion gallons of fuel are wasted as vehicles wait at stop lights or sit in dense traffic with engines idling, according to US Department of Energy estimates.

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.

Elizabeth Herndon takes a soil sample at a field site outside Abisko, Sweden in July 2019.

Elizabeth Herndon believes in going the distance whether she is preparing to compete in the 2020 Olympic marathon trials or examining how metals move through the environment as a geochemist at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Misha Krassovski, a computer scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, stands in front of the Polarstern, a 400-foot long German icebreaker. Krassovski lived aboard the Polarstern during the first leg of the MOSAiC mission, the largest polar expedition ever. Credit: Misha Krassovski/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

In the vast frozen whiteness of the central Arctic, the Polarstern, a German research vessel, has settled into the ice for a yearlong float.

ORNL will use state-of-the-art R&D tools at the Battery Manufacturing Facility to develop new methods for separating and reclaiming valuable materials from spent EV batteries.

The use of lithium-ion batteries has surged in recent years, starting with electronics and expanding into many applications, including the growing electric and hybrid vehicle industry. But the technologies to optimize recycling of these batteries have not kept pace.