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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.

This image of a deuteron shows the bound state of a proton, in red, and a neutron, in blue. Credit: Andy Sproles, ORNL/U.S. Dept. of Energy

Since the 1930s, scientists have been using particle accelerators to gain insights into the structure of matter and the laws of physics that govern our world.

Distinguished Inventors

Six scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory were named Battelle Distinguished Inventors, in recognition of obtaining 14 or more patents during their careers at the lab.


A multi-institutional team, led by a group of investigators at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, has been studying various SARS-CoV-2 protein targets, including the virus’s main protease. The feat has earned the team a finalist nomination for the Association of Computing Machinery, or ACM, Gordon Bell Special Prize for High Performance Computing-Based COVID-19 Research.

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.

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.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory entrance sign

Geoffrey L. Greene, a professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, who holds a joint appointment with ORNL, will be awarded the 2021 Tom Bonner Prize for Nuclear Physics from the American Physical Society.

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.

Enzyme activity during organophosphate poisoning

Pick your poison. It can be deadly for good reasons such as protecting crops from harmful insects or fighting parasite infection as medicine — or for evil as a weapon for bioterrorism. Or, in extremely diluted amounts, it can be used to enhance beauty.

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.