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Balendra Sutharshan

In the mid-1980s, Balendra Sutharshan moved to Canada from the island nation of Sri Lanka. That move set Sutharshan on a path that had him heading continent-spanning collaborations and holding leadership posts at multiple Department of Energy national labs.

Brenda Smith, shown here working with a gas viscometer in her research lab, is one of several people concurrently researching the thermophysical properties of feedstock gas. Their research will support computational researchers who are designing processes to separate isotopes. Credit: Carlos Jones/ORNL, US Dept. of Energy

For years Brenda Smith found fulfillment working with nuclear batteries, a topic she’s been researching as a chemist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Targeted alpha therapy can deliver radiation to specific cells, with minimal effect on surrounding, healthy cells. Credit: Michelle Lehman and Jaimee Janiga/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

A rare isotope in high demand for treating cancer is now more available to pharmaceutical companies developing and testing new drugs.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory entrance sign

Balendra Sutharshan, deputy associate laboratory director for operational systems at DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, has joined ORNL as associate laboratory director for the Isotope Science and Engineering Directorate.

A 3D printed turbine blade demonstrates the use of the new class of nickel-based superalloys that can withstand extreme heat environments without cracking or losing strength. Credit: ORNL/U.S. Dept. of Energy

Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers have demonstrated that a new class of superalloys made of cobalt and nickel remains crack-free and defect-resistant in extreme heat, making them conducive for use in metal-based 3D printing applications.

ORNL welder Devin Johnson uses a new orbital welder to seal a hollow target in a glovebox in the lab’s Radiochemical Engineering Development Center. The new welder makes a clean seam on the metal target, eliminating the need for hand-finishing afterward. Credit: Carlos Jones/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

A better way of welding targets for Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s plutonium-238 production has sped up the process and improved consistency and efficiency. This advancement will ultimately benefit the lab’s goal to make enough Pu-238 – the isotope that powers NASA’s deep space missions – to yield 1.5 kilograms of plutonium oxide annually by 2026.

Porter Bailey started and will end his 33-year career at ORNL in the same building: 7920 of the Radiochemical Engineering Development Center.

Porter Bailey started and will end his 33-year career at ORNL in the same building: 7920 of the Radiochemical Engineering Development Center.

Lightning strike test

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory demonstrated that an additively manufactured polymer layer, when applied to carbon fiber reinforced plastic, or CFRP, can serve as an effective protector against aircraft lightning strikes.

Layering on the strength

A team including Oak Ridge National Laboratory and University of Tennessee researchers demonstrated a novel 3D printing approach called Z-pinning that can increase the material’s strength and toughness by more than three and a half times compared to conventional additive manufacturing processes.

Tungsten tiles for fusion

Using additive manufacturing, scientists experimenting with tungsten at Oak Ridge National Laboratory hope to unlock new potential of the high-performance heat-transferring material used to protect components from the plasma inside a fusion reactor. Fusion requires hydrogen isotopes to reach millions of degrees.