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Xunxiang Hu, a Eugene P. Wigner Fellow in ORNL’s Materials Science and Technology Division, designed this machine to produce large, crack-free pieces of yttrium hydride to be used as a moderator in the core of ORNL’s Transformational Challenge Reactor and other microreactors. Credit: Xunxiang Hu/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

About 60 years ago, scientists discovered that a certain rare earth metal-hydrogen mixture, yttrium, could be the ideal moderator to go inside small, gas-cooled nuclear reactors.

ORNL researchers developed a quantum, or squeezed, light approach for atomic force microscopy that enables measurement of signals otherwise buried by noise. Credit: Raphael Pooser/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Researchers at ORNL used quantum optics to advance state-of-the-art microscopy and illuminate a path to detecting material properties with greater sensitivity than is possible with traditional tools.

Simulation of short polymer chains

Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists have discovered a cost-effective way to significantly improve the mechanical performance of common polymer nanocomposite materials.

Cations between layers of MXene

A team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory developed a novel, integrated approach to track energy-transporting ions within an ultra-thin material, which could unlock its energy storage potential leading toward faster charging, longer-lasting devices.

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory shed new light on elusive chemical processes at the liquid-liquid interface during solvent extraction of cobalt (dark blue). Credit: Michelle Lehman/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Real-time measurements captured by researchers at ORNL provide missing insight into chemical separations to recover cobalt, a critical raw material used to make batteries and magnets for modern technologies.

Battery materials at interface

Scientists seeking ways to improve a battery’s ability to hold a charge longer, using advanced materials that are safe, stable and efficient, have determined that the materials themselves are only part of the solution.

Sergei Kalinin

Five researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have been named ORNL Corporate Fellows in recognition of significant career accomplishments and continued leadership in their scientific fields.

Drawing of thin-film cathode technology

Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists seeking the source of charge loss in lithium-ion batteries demonstrated that coupling a thin-film cathode with a solid electrolyte is a rapid way to determine the root cause.

Colorized micrograph of lily pollen

Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers have built a novel microscope that provides a “chemical lens” for viewing biological systems including cell membranes and biofilms.

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.