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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.

ORNL scientists are currently using Proto-MPEX to perform necessary research and development that is needed to build MPEX. Credit: Genevieve Martin/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Temperatures hotter than the center of the sun. Magnetic fields hundreds of thousands of times stronger than the earth’s. Neutrons energetic enough to change the structure of a material entirely.

At the U.S. Department of Energy Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL, this part for a scaled-down prototype of a reactor was produced for industry partner Kairos Power.

Scientists at the Department of Energy Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL have their eyes on the prize: the Transformational Challenge Reactor, or TCR, a microreactor built using 3D printing and other new approaches that will be up and running by 2023.

Kat Royston

As a teenager, Kat Royston had a lot of questions. Then an advanced-placement class in physics convinced her all the answers were out there.

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.

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

A software package, 10 years in the making, that can predict the behavior of nuclear reactors’ cores with stunning accuracy has been licensed commercially for the first time.

Postdoctoral researcher Nischal Kafle positions a component for a portable plasma imaging diagnostic device at ORNL in February. The device, a project for ARPA-E, is built of off-the-shelf parts. Credit: Carlos Jones/ORNL

The techniques Theodore Biewer and his colleagues are using to measure whether plasma has the right conditions to create fusion have been around awhile.

Scientists created a novel polymer that is as effective as natural proteins in transporting protons through a membrane. Credit: ORNL/Jill Hemman

Biological membranes, such as the “walls” of most types of living cells, primarily consist of a double layer of lipids, or “lipid bilayer,” that forms the structure, and a variety of embedded and attached proteins with highly specialized functions, including proteins that rapidly and selectively transport ions and molecules in and out of the cell.

ORNL-created Chattanooga building energy models. Image Credit: Joshua New, ORNL

Buildings use 40 percent of America’s primary energy and 75 percent of its electricity, which can jump to 80 percent when a majority of the population is at home using heating or cooling systems and the seasons reach their extremes.

Snapshot of total temperature distribution at supersonic speed of mach 2.4. Total temperature allows the team to visualize the extent of the exhaust plumes as the temperature of the plumes is much greater than that of the surrounding atmosphere. Credit: NASA

The type of vehicle that will carry people to the Red Planet is shaping up to be “like a two-story house you’re trying to land on another planet.