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Fungi use signaling molecules called LCOs to communicate with each other and to regulate growth. Credit: Jessy Labbe/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Oak Ridge National Laboratory and collaborators have discovered that signaling molecules known to trigger symbiosis between plants and soil bacteria are also used by almost all fungi as chemical signals to communicate with each other.

Paul Kent, shown above posing with Summit in April 2018, received the 2020 ORNL Director’s Award for Outstanding Individual Accomplishment in Science and Technology. Credit: ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Paul Kent, a computational nanoscience researcher in ORNL’s Computing and Computational Science Directorate, received the ORNL Director’s Award for Outstanding Individual Accomplishment in Science and Technology. 

ORNL assisted in investigating proteins called porins, one shown in red, which are found in the protective outer membrane of certain disease-causing bacteria and tether the membrane to the cell wall. Credit: Hyea (Sunny) Hwang/Georgia Tech and ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Scientists from Oak Ridge National Laboratory used high-performance computing to create protein models that helped reveal how the outer membrane is tethered to the cell membrane in certain bacteria.

 Using the ASGarD mathematical framework, scientists can model and visualize the electric fields, shown as arrows, circling around magnetic fields that are colorized to represent field magnitude of a fusion plasma. Credit: David Green/ORNL

Combining expertise in physics, applied math and computing, Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists are expanding the possibilities for simulating electromagnetic fields that underpin phenomena in materials design and telecommunications.

Analyses of lung fluid cells from COVID-19 patients conducted on the nation’s fastest supercomputer point to gene expression patterns that may explain the runaway symptoms produced by the body’s response to SARS-CoV-2. Credit: Jason B. Smith/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

A team led by Dan Jacobson of Oak Ridge National Laboratory used the Summit supercomputer at ORNL to analyze genes from cells in the lung fluid of nine COVID-19 patients compared with 40 control patients.

The 1250 ton cyrostat base is positioned over the ITER tokamak pit for installation. This base is the heaviest lift of tokamak assembly. Credit: ITER Organization

ITER, the world’s largest international scientific collaboration, is beginning assembly of the fusion reactor tokamak that will include 12 different essential hardware systems provided by US ITER, which is managed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Coronavirus research

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have used Summit, the world’s most powerful and smartest supercomputer, to identify 77 small-molecule drug compounds that might warrant further study in the fight against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which is responsible for the COVID-19 disease outbreak.

This simulation of a fusion plasma calculation result shows the interaction of two counter-streaming beams of super-heated gas. Credit: David L. Green/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

The prospect of simulating a fusion plasma is a step closer to reality thanks to a new computational tool developed by scientists in fusion physics, computer science and mathematics at ORNL.

Argon pellet injection text

As scientists study approaches to best sustain a fusion reactor, a team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory investigated injecting shattered argon pellets into a super-hot plasma, when needed, to protect the reactor’s interior wall from high-energy runaway electrons.

Kathy McCarthy

Kathy McCarthy has been named director of the US ITER Project Office at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, effective March 2020.