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Paul Abraham uses mass spectrometry to study proteins.

Systems biologist Paul Abraham uses his fascination with proteins, the molecular machines of nature, to explore new ways to engineer more productive ecosystems and hardier bioenergy crops.

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.

Prospecting for deformations in exotic isotopes of ruthenium and molybdenum, Allmond found they displayed a deflated-football morphology. Credit: Carlos Jones/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

In the Physics Division of the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, James (“Mitch”) Allmond conducts experiments and uses theoretical models to advance our understanding of the structure of atomic nuclei, which are made of various combinations of protons and neutrons (nucleons).

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.

Scanning probe microscopes use an atom-sharp tip—only a few nanometers thick—to image materials on a nanometer length scale. The probe tip, invisible to the eye, is attached to a cantilever (pictured) that moves across material surfaces like the tone arm on a record player. Credit: Genevieve Martin/Oak Ridge National Laboratory; U.S. Dept. of Energy.

Liam Collins was drawn to study physics to understand “hidden things” and honed his expertise in microscopy so that he could bring them to light.

To develop complex materials with superior properties, Vera Bocharova uses diverse methods including broadband dielectric spectroscopy. Credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy; photographer Jason Richards

Vera Bocharova at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory investigates the structure and dynamics of soft materials—polymer nanocomposites, polymer electrolytes and biological macromolecules—to advance materials and technologies for energy, medicine and other applications.

ORNL astrophysicist Raph Hix models the inner workings of supernovae on the world’s most powerful supercomputers.

More than 1800 years ago, Chinese astronomers puzzled over the sudden appearance of a bright “guest star” in the sky, unaware that they were witnessing the cosmic forge of a supernova, an event repeated countless times scattered across the universe.

Leah Broussard leads a study of neutron decay to understand correlations between electrons and antineutrinos as well as subtle distortions in the electron energy spectrum.

Leah Broussard, a physicist at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, has so much fun exploring the neutron that she alternates between calling it her “laboratory” and “playground” for understanding the universe. “The neutron is special,” she said of the sub...

Sergei Kalinin, director of the Institute for Functional Imaging of Materials at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, convenes experts in microscopy and computing to gain scientific insights that will inform design of advanced materials for energy and informati

Sergei Kalinin of the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory knows that seeing something is not the same as understanding it. As director of ORNL’s Institute for Functional Imaging of Materials, he convenes experts in microscopy and computing to gain scientific insigh...

Lauren Garrison

The materials inside a fusion reactor must withstand one of the most extreme environments in science, with temperatures in the thousands of degrees Celsius and a constant bombardment of neutron radiation and deuterium and tritium, isotopes of hydrogen, from the volatile plasma at th...