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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.

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.

VERA’s tools allow a virtual window inside the reactor core, down to a molecular level.

As CASL ends and transitions to VERA Users Group, ORNL looks at the history of the program and its impact on the nuclear industry.

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.

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 hybrid inverter developed by ORNL is an intelligent power electronic inverter platform that can connect locally sited energy resources such as solar panels, energy storage and electric vehicles and interact efficiently with the utility power grid. Credit: Carlos Jones, ORNL/U.S. Dept of Energy.

ORNL researchers have developed an intelligent power electronic inverter platform that can connect locally sited energy resources such as solar panels, energy storage and electric vehicles and smoothly interact with the utility power grid.

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.

Computational biophysicist Ada Sedova is using experiments and high-performance computing to explore the properties of biological systems and predict their form and function, including research to accelerate drug discovery for COVID-19. Photo credit: Jason Richards, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy.

Ada Sedova’s journey to Oak Ridge National Laboratory has taken her on the path from pre-med studies in college to an accelerated graduate career in mathematics and biophysics and now to the intersection of computational science and biology

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.