Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers have developed a novel experimental platform called OpeN-AM to study additively manufactured metal in real time using beams of neutrons. The experimental system features a robotic arm that 3D-prints metal welds to create complex shapes and objects.
Scientists measuring the nucleus of calcium-48 to determine how its 20 protons and 28 neutrons are distributed inside its nucleus found that the protons and neutrons aren’t simply sprinkled throughout the nucleus. Instead, they form a neutron-rich “thin skin” around a core of evenly distributed protons and neutrons. This skin is thinner than many theoretical models predicted and not consistent with expectations based on recent observations of lead’s thick skin.
Quarks are distributed differently in free protons and neutrons versus those inside nuclei, something called “the EMC effect.” Scientists previously thought that the EMC effect treated the up and down quarks in protons and neutrons equally. New high-precision data from the MARATHON experiment indicates that the EMC effect may exert more influence on the distribution of down quarks compared to up quarks inside nuclei.
Nuclear fission and fusion reactors use carbon and silicon in shielding, structural materials, fuel, and neutron moderators. Neutrons are the drivers of the nuclear energy production processes. This makes understanding how neutrons scatter from all reactor materials critical for nuclear plant design and other applications. In this research, scientists investigated the interaction of neutrons with silicon and carbon.
Scientists recently tested the ability of three techniques called entanglement witnesses to accurately identify pairs of entangled magnetic particles. Of the three, quantum Fisher information (QFI) performed best, routinely locating entanglement in complex materials. This work is the most thorough examination of QFI’s capabilities to date and is the first to apply QFI to massive solid materials.
Nuclear physicists have experimentally confirmed the existence of the tetraneutron, a meta-stable nuclear system that can decay into four free neutrons. Researchers have predicted the tetraneutron’s existence since 2016. The new results, which agree with predictions from supercomputer simulations, will help scientists understand atomic nuclei, neutron stars, and other neutron-rich systems.
To better understand how thermoelectric devices convert thermal energy into electricity at the atomic scale, researchers used neutrons to study single crystals of tin sulfide and tin selenide. The results revealed a strong correlation between changes in the structure at certain temperatures and the frequency of atomic vibrations (phonons). This allowed the researchers to identify temperatures ideal for energy conversion and provided basic scientific knowledge for designing new thermoelectric materials.
Researchers have experimentally extracted the strength of the strong force, a quantity that firmly supports theories explaining how most of the mass or ordinary matter in the universe is generated. This quantity, known as the coupling of the strong force, describes how strongly two bodies interact or “couple” under this force. With Jefferson Lab data, the physicists were able to determine the strong force coupling at the largest distances yet.
Iowa State University’s James Vary and an international team of nuclear physicists used supercomputers to theorize and predict that a four-neutron structure, a tetraneutron, could form for just billions of billionths of a second. Experiments in Japan have now confirmed the reality of a tetraneutron.
Using neutrons, researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory pieced together the molecular mechanics behind a peptide’s ability to deal significant damage to bacterial cells. Their findings could inform new therapeutic strategies for treating bacterial infections where antibiotics have fallen short.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers used the nation’s fastest supercomputer to map the molecular vibrations of an important but little-studied uranium compound produced during the nuclear fuel cycle for results that could lead to a cleaner, safer world.
Researchers from Sandia, ORNL, and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville used neutron scattering and additional experimental techniques to study a series of materials called metal organic frameworks (MOFs) made from the entire list of rare earth elements. The researchers established a comprehensive approach to evaluating large numbers of MOFs and also made an important discovery about a defect that can be useful in building technologies to mitigate toxic gases such as nitrogen and sulfur dioxides.
Using neutron experiments at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a research team led by Vanderbilt University successfully captured the most detailed view to date of water’s hydrogen bonding patterns around DNA, opening new possibilities for studying how water impacts DNA function.
ORNL story tips: Predicting water quality, stronger & ‘stretchier’ alloys, RAPID reinforcement and mountainous water towers
Scientists have reported new clues to solving a cosmic conundrum: How the quark-gluon plasma – nature’s perfect fluid – evolved into the building blocks of matter during the birth of the early universe.
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.
Sandia National Laboratories is developing a new kind of imaging system that will enable people to safely examine sealed metal boxes when opening them could be dangerous.
An ORNL-led team comprising researchers from multiple DOE national laboratories is using artificial intelligence and computational screening techniques – in combination with experimental validation – to identify and design five promising drug therapy approaches to target the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
ORNL story tips: Un-Earthly ice, buildings in the loop, batteries unbound and 3D printing for geothermal
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.
The enzyme manganese superoxide dismutase helps maintain human health by keeping the amount of reactive oxygen molecules in cells under control. Using neutron scattering at ORNL, researchers obtained a complete atomic portrait of the enzyme, revealing key information about its catalytic mechanism.
ORNL story tips: Quantum building blocks, high-pressure diamonds, wildfire ecology, quick cooling tooling and printing on the fly
Physicists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a measurement technique to better understand beam loss—stray particles that travel outside the confinement fields of a particle accelerator. Mitigating beam loss is paramount to realizing more powerful accelerators at smaller scales and lower costs.
Using neutron experiments and computer simulations, researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory delved into how some of the proposed COVID-19 drug candidates behave at the molecular scale when exposed to water.
To investigate what happens inside cells when they are at risk of becoming cancerous, scientists at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital have been using neutron scattering at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The team is searching to better understand the altered state of the nucleolus—a membrane-less organelle inside the cell—when the cell is compromised. Novel insights into cell behavior at the atomic and molecular scales will enable better detection and treatment of cancer in its many forms.
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.
Neutron scattering at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has shown that cholesterol stiffens simple lipid membranes, a finding that may help us better understand the functioning of human cells.
Through a one-of-a-kind experiment at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, nuclear physicists have precisely measured the weak interaction between protons and neutrons. The result quantifies the weak force theory as predicted by the Standard Model of Particle Physics.
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).
Researchers at ORNL are using neutron scattering at the Spallation Neutron Source to better understand how spike proteins help the COVID-19 virus infect human cells and what drugs could be effective in stopping them.
Dien Nguyen (Zee-en Wen) studies some of the smallest units of matter on Earth to learn more about massive objects in space. Now, she’ll be conducting her research as the Nathan Isgur Postdoctoral Fellow in Nuclear Experiment at the Department of Energy’s Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility.
Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory 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 biofuels and bioproducts.
Researchers from West Virginia University are using neutron scattering at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to study novel materials called high entropy oxides, or HEOs. Their goal is to collect insights into how the atoms in the HEOs bind together and whether the materials can be used to develop useful applications to improve power plant operations.
Nobuo Sato is working to put the know in femto. He’s just been awarded a five-year, multimillion dollar research grant by the Department of Energy to develop a “FemtoAnalyzer” that will help nuclear physicists image the three-dimensional internal structure of protons and neutrons. Now, Sato is among 76 scientists nationwide who have been awarded a grant through the DOE Office of Science’s Early Career Research Program to pursue their research.
Researchers have performed the first room temperature X-ray measurements on the SARS-CoV-2 main protease—the enzyme that enables the virus to reproduce. It marks an important first step in the ultimate goal of building a comprehensive 3D model of the enzymatic protein that will be used to advance supercomputing simulations aimed at finding drug inhibitors to block the virus’s replication mechanism and help end the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has licensed a novel method to 3D print components used in neutron instruments for scientific research to the ExOne Company, a leading maker of binder jet 3D printing technology.
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.
Researchers and engineers at the Spallation Neutron Source are making progress on the construction of VENUS, the facility’s newest neutron scattering instrument for studying materials in exciting new ways that are currently not possible for open research programs in the US.
ORNL Story Tips: Shuffling atoms, thinning forests, fusion assembly and nuclear medicine
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.
LSU researchers are using neutron scattering at ORNL to study crystallization-driven self-assembly, a technique for forming nanoscale solid materials from solutions to understand how the technique could be used to craft controlled-shape nanostructures from polymers known as polypeptoids.
Neutron scattering instruments at ORNL’s HFIR and SNS are undergoing upgrades which will enable them to study magnetic phenomena previously not possible in the US. Incorporating a device for spherical neutron polarimetry enables the ability to characterize complex magnetic systems in new dimensions for materials that could be developed for enhanced data storage and quantum computing technologies.
A hypothetical particle called the axion could solve one of physics’ great mysteries: the excess of matter over antimatter, or why we’re here at all.
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.
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.
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.
Researchers led by the University of Manchester used neutron scattering at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the development of a catalyst that converts biomass into liquid fuel with remarkably high efficiency and provides new possibilities for manufacturing renewable energy-related materials.
Colorado State researchers used neutron scattering at ORNL to study an ytterbium silicate material that exhibits a Bose-Einstein condensate, an unusual quantum phase of matter that may help better understand similar phenomena in other quantum materials.
Researchers from Aarhus University, Denmark, are pioneering a novel technique to solve highly elaborate magnetic structures using neutrons at the Spallation Neutron Source. Their aim is to develop the technique to establish a baseline approach that can be adapted to a broad class of magnetic materials with different structures.
Corning researchers are using neutrons at ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source to better understand the correlations between the structure and properties of glass to develop new compositions tailored for a range of applications.