Automatically Steering Experiments Toward Scientific Discovery

Scientists at Brookhaven and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories have been developing an automated experimental setup of data collection, analysis, and decision making.

Buzz about thermoelectrics heats up with promising new magnesium-based materials

Researchers at Duke University and Michigan State University used neutrons at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to gain new fundamental insights into two magnesium-based materials. Investigations at the atomic scale revealed the origin and mechanism behind the materials’ ability to convert thermal energy at room temperature into electricity and provides possible new pathways for improving thermoelectric applications such as those in the Perseverance rover and myriad other devices and energy-generation technologies.

Uncovering Hidden Local States in a Quantum Material

States of local broken symmetry at high temperature—observed in several materials, including one with a metal-insulator transition, an iron-based superconductor, and an insulating mineral part of the Earth’s upper mantle—may enable the technologically relevant properties arising at much-lower temperature.

Researchers Find Semimetal That Clings to a Quantum Precipice

In an open access paper published in Science Advances, Johns Hopkins physicists and colleagues at Rice University, the Vienna University of Technology (TU Wien), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), present experimental evidence of naturally occurring quantum criticality in a material.

Neutrons piece together 40-year puzzle behind iron-iodide’s mysterious magnetism

Researchers from Georgia Tech and the University of Tennessee–Knoxville uncovered hidden and unexpected quantum behavior in a simple iron-iodide material (FeI2) discovered almost a century ago. The new insights were enabled using neutron scattering experiments and theoretical physics calculations at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The team’s findings solves a 40-year-old puzzle about the material’s mysterious behavior and could be used as a map to unlock a treasure trove of quantum phenomena in other materials.

Mapping the Electronic States in an Exotic Superconductor

Scientists mapped the electronic states in an exotic superconductor. The maps point to the composition range necessary for topological superconductivity, a state that could enable more robust quantum computing.

Quantum material’s subtle spin behavior proves theoretical predictions

Using complementary computing calculations and neutron scattering techniques, researchers from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge and Lawrence Berkeley national laboratories and the University of California, Berkeley, discovered the existence of an elusive type of spin dynamics in a quantum mechanical system.

Novel Catalyst Means Ammonia Synthesis with Less Heat and Pressure

Neutron scattering has unveiled new insights into the performance of a novel metal catalyst used to convert nitrogen into ammonia. The key discovery is that the hydrogen atoms on the surface of the material—not caged inside the catalyst—play the most significant role in the ammonia synthesis. The material catalyzes ammonia synthesis with significantly less energy than the traditional iron-based catalysts.

Scientists investigate solutions for building cell membrane defense against COVID-19

Researchers from Virginia Tech and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) are using neutron scattering at ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source to investigate how cell membranes and the COVID-19 virus impact each other and what therapeutic candidates could make cell membranes more resistant to viral entry.

Neutrons chart atomic map of COVID-19’s viral replication mechanism

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. Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory used neutron scattering to identify key information to improve the effectiveness of drug inhibitors designed to block the virus’s replication mechanism.

Colorado School of Mines researchers use neutrons to study weld-induced stress relief in renewable energy infrastructure

Researchers from the Colorado School of Mines used neutrons at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s High Flux Isotope Reactor to measure residual stress of welds used to make large steel tanks that store molten salts for industrial concentrating solar plants.

Novel cell membrane model could be key to uncovering new protein properties

Researchers have recently shed light on how cell membrane proteins could be influenced by the lipids around them. By developing a novel type of membrane model, they were able to show that the shape and behavior of a protein can be altered by exposure to different lipid compositions. The research team confirmed the artificial membrane’s structure using x-ray and neutron scattering at the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Brookhaven (BNL) and Oak Ridge National Laboratories (ORNL).

History of insightful HIV research inspires neutron scattering approach to studying COVID-19

What began as novel investigations into HIV, abruptly pivoted to the novel coronavirus as it began to spread across the globe. Now, ORNL researchers are using neutrons to learn more about the SARS-CoV-2 protease—a protein enzyme that enables the virus to replicate within the human body. Insights on the protein structure and its behaviors will be used to create more accurate models for simulations in aims of finding drug inhibitors to block the virus’s ability to reproduce.

Oak Ridge neutron facilities ramping up research to combat COVID-19

At Oak Ridge National Laboratory, it’s all-hands-on-deck for the world-leading experts in neutron scattering as they enter the fight against COVID-19. Researchers at the lab’s Spallation Neutron Source and High Flux Isotope Reactor have a plan of attack to unleash a full barrage of neutron capabilities in an ambitious set of experiments that will provide critical pieces of information about the virus’s biological structure and how it behaves.

Scientists use neutrons to try to develop better, less costly dental restorations

Teeth damaged by trauma or disease require treatment to look and feel as good as new, but the restorative materials available to dentists don’t always last and can be costly for patients. Researchers from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center’s College of Dentistry are using neutrons at ORNL’s High Flux Isotope Reactor to change that.

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. The scientists conducted neutron scattering experiments at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory on samples of zirconium vanadium hydride.

New ORNL software improves neutron spectroscopy data resolution

Neutron spectroscopy is an important tool for studying magnetic and thermoelectric properties in materials. But often the resolution, or the ability of the instrument to see fine details, is too coarse to clearly observe features identifying novel phenomena in new advanced materials. To solve this problem, researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, developed a new super-resolution software, called SRINS, that makes it easier for scientists to better understand materials’ dynamical properties using neutron spectroscopy.

Neutrons “break the ice” for exploring fundamental physics in frozen water

Scientists from Xavier University and Oak Ridge National Laboratory used neutrons to explore the atomic structure of ice, which sometimes features mysterious molecular anomalies in its otherwise crystalline structure. Learning more about these ionic defects could help researchers learn more about similar inconsistencies found in other materials.