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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.

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.

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

Scientists at ORNL used neutron scattering and supercomputing to better understand how an organic solvent and water work together to break down plant biomass, creating a pathway to significantly improve the production of renewable

The protease protein is both shaped like a heart and functions as one, allowing the virus replicate and spread. Inhibiting the protease would block virus reproduction. Credit: Andrey Kovalevsky/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

A team of researchers has performed the first room-temperature X-ray measurements on the SARS-CoV-2 main protease — the enzyme that enables the virus to reproduce.

From left, Peter Jiang, Elijah Martin and Benjamin Sulman have been selected for Early Career Research Program awards from the Department of Energy's Office of Science. Credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

The Department of Energy’s Office of Science has selected three Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists for Early Career Research Program awards.

Coronavirus graphic

In the race to identify solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory are joining the fight by applying expertise in computational science, advanced manufacturing, data science and neutron science.

Scientists created a novel polymer that is as effective as natural proteins in transporting protons through a membrane. Credit: ORNL/Jill Hemman

Biological membranes, such as the “walls” of most types of living cells, primarily consist of a double layer of lipids, or “lipid bilayer,” that forms the structure, and a variety of embedded and attached proteins with highly specialized functions, including proteins that rapidly and selectively transport ions and molecules in and out of the cell.

A new computational approach by ORNL can more quickly scan large-scale satellite images, such as these of Puerto Rico, for more accurate mapping of complex infrastructure like buildings. Credit: Maxar Technologies and Dalton Lunga/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

A novel approach developed by scientists at ORNL can scan massive datasets of large-scale satellite images to more accurately map infrastructure – such as buildings and roads – in hours versus days. 

Closely spaced hydrogen atoms could facilitate superconductivity in ambient conditions

An international team of researchers has discovered the hydrogen atoms in a metal hydride material are much more tightly spaced than had been predicted for decades — a feature that could possibly facilitate superconductivity at or near room temperature and pressure.

Illustration of the optimized zeolite catalyst, or NbAlS-1, which enables a highly efficient chemical reaction to create butene, a renewable source of energy, without expending high amounts of energy for the conversion. Credit: Jill Hemman, Oak Ridge National Laboratory/U.S. Dept. of Energy

Illustration of the optimized zeolite catalyst, or NbAlS-1, which enables a highly efficient chemical reaction to create butene, a renewable source of energy, without expending high amounts of energy for the conversion. Credit: Jill Hemman, Oak Ridge National Laboratory/U.S. Dept. of Energy