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ORNL's Communications team works with news media seeking information about the laboratory. Media may use the resources listed below or send questions to news@ornl.gov.

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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.

ORNL-developed cryogenic memory cell circuit designs fabricated onto these small chips by SeeQC, a superconducting technology company, successfully demonstrated read, write and reset memory functions. Credit: Carlos Jones/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Scientists at have experimentally demonstrated a novel cryogenic, or low temperature, memory cell circuit design based on coupled arrays of Josephson junctions, a technology that may be faster and more energy efficient than existing memory devices.

Image caption: An ORNL research team lead is developing a universal benchmark for the accuracy and performance of quantum computers based on quantum chemistry simulations. The benchmark will help the community evaluate and develop new quantum processors. (Below left: schematic of one of quantum circuits used to test the RbH molecule. Top left: molecular orbitals used. Top right: actual results obtained using the bottom left circuit for RbH).

Researchers at ORNL have developed a quantum chemistry simulation benchmark to evaluate the performance of quantum devices and guide the development of applications for future quantum computers.

The students analyzed diatom images like this one to compare wild and genetically modified strains of these organisms. Credit: Alison Pawlicki/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, US Department of Energy.

Students often participate in internships and receive formal training in their chosen career fields during college, but some pursue professional development opportunities even earlier.

CellSight allows for rapid mass spectrometry of individual cells. Credit: John Cahill, Oak Ridge National Laboratory/U.S. Dept of Energy

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have received five 2019 R&D 100 Awards, increasing the lab’s total to 221 since the award’s inception in 1963.

Materials—Engineering heat transport

Scientists have discovered a way to alter heat transport in thermoelectric materials, a finding that may ultimately improve energy efficiency as the materials convert heat flow into electricity.

The illustrations show how the correlation between lattice distortion and proton binding energy in a material affects proton conduction in different environments. Mitigating this interaction could help researchers improve the ionic conductivity of solid materials.

Ionic conduction involves the movement of ions from one location to another inside a material. The ions travel through point defects, which are irregularities in the otherwise consistent arrangement of atoms known as the crystal lattice. This sometimes sluggish process can limit the performance and efficiency of fuel cells, batteries, and other energy storage technologies.

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.

ORNL alanine_graphic.jpg

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Jan. 31, 2019—A new electron microscopy technique that detects the subtle changes in the weight of proteins at the nanoscale—while keeping the sample intact—could open a new pathway for deeper, more comprehensive studies of the basic building blocks of life. 

mirrorAsymmetry-NPDGamma_ORNL.jpg

A team of scientists has for the first time measured the elusive weak interaction between protons and neutrons in the nucleus of an atom. They had chosen the simplest nucleus consisting of one neutron and one proton for the study.