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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.

Polymer self-assembly at the liquid-liquid interface in real time

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Feb. 27, 2020 — Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee achieved a rare look at the inner workings of polymer self-assembly at an oil-water interface to advance materials for neuromorphic computing and bio-inspired technologies.

Batteries—Polymers that bind

A team of researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have demonstrated that designed synthetic polymers can serve as a high-performance binding material for next-generation lithium-ion batteries.

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.

From left, Amit Naskar, Ngoc Nguyen and Christopher Bowland in ORNL’s Carbon and Composites Group bring a new capability—structural health monitoring—to strong, lightweight materials promising for transportation applications.

Carbon fiber composites—lightweight and strong—are great structural materials for automobiles, aircraft and other transportation vehicles. They consist of a polymer matrix, such as epoxy, into which reinforcing carbon fibers have been embedded. Because of differences in the mecha...