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Neutron scattering experiments show electric charges, shown in red, blue and grey, in the SARS-CoV-2 main protease site where telaprevir binds to the structure. The experiments provide critical data for the design of small-molecule drugs to treat COVID-19. Credit: Jill Hemman and Michelle Lehman/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Scientists have found new, unexpected behaviors when SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 – encounters drugs known as inhibitors, which bind to certain components of the virus and block its ability to reproduce.  

Ken Andersen

Ken Andersen has been named associate laboratory director for the Neutron Sciences Directorate, or NScD, at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The pressure cell uses two gem-quality synthetic opposing diamonds to exert extreme pressures on materials, providing fundamental insights into materials that only neutrons can reveal. Credit: Genevieve Martin/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Spallation Neutron Source have developed a diamond anvil pressure cell that will enable high-pressure science currently not possible at any other neutron source in the world.

SCGSR Awardee Jacob Zettlemoyer, Indiana University Bloomington, led data analysis and worked with ORNL’s Mike Febbraro on coatings, shown under blue light, to shift argon light to visible wavelengths to boost detection. Credit: Rex Tayloe/Indiana University

The COHERENT particle physics experiment at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has firmly established the existence of a new kind of neutrino interaction.

ORNL is designing a neutronic research engine to evaluate new materials and designs for advanced vehicles using the facilities at the Spallation Neutron Source at ORNL. Credit: Jill Hemman/ORNL, U.S. Dept of Energy, and  Southwest Research Institute.

In the quest for advanced vehicles with higher energy efficiency and ultra-low emissions, ORNL researchers are accelerating a research engine that gives scientists and engineers an unprecedented view inside the atomic-level workings of combustion engines in real time.

An organic solvent and water separate and form nanoclusters on the hydrophobic and hydrophilic sections of plant material, driving the efficient deconstruction of biomass. Credit: Michelle Lehman/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Experiments led by researchers at ORNL have determined that several hepatitis C drugs can inhibit the SARS-CoV-2 main protease, a crucial protein enzyme that enables the novel coronavirus to reproduce.

UTK researchers used neutron probes at ORNL to confirm established fundamental chemical rules can also help understand and predict atomic movements and distortions in materials when disorder is introduced, as arrows show. Credit: Eric O’Quinn/UTK

Pauling’s Rules is the standard model used to describe atomic arrangements in ordered materials. Neutron scattering experiments at Oak Ridge National Laboratory confirmed this approach can also be used to describe highly disordered materials.

The first neutron structure of the SARS-CoV-2 main protease enzyme revealed unexpected electrical charges in the amino acids cysteine (negative) and histidine (positive), providing key data about the virus’s replication. Credit: Jill Hemman/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

To better understand how the novel coronavirus behaves and how it can be stopped, scientists have completed a three-dimensional map that reveals the location of every atom in an enzyme molecule critical to SARS-CoV-2 reproduction.

Substituting deuterium for hydrogen makes methylammonium heavier and slows its swaying so it can interact with vibrations that remove heat, keeping charge carriers hot longer. Credit: Jill Hemman/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Led by ORNL and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, a study of a solar-energy material with a bright future revealed a way to slow phonons, the waves that transport heat.

The n-helium-3 precision experiment, conducted at ORNL, measured the weak force between protons and neutrons by detecting the tiny electrical signal produced when a neutron and a helium-3 nucleus combine and then decay as they move through the helium gas target cell. Credit: Andy Sproles/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Through a one-of-a-kind experiment at ORNL, nuclear physicists have precisely measured the weak interaction between protons and neutrons. The result quantifies the weak force theory as predicted by the Standard Model of Particle Physics.