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.

DOE scientists deploy creativity, speed to disrupt COVID-19

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.

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.

University of Nebraska Medical Center researchers reveal elusive inner workings of antioxidant enzyme with therapeutic potential

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.

After 20 years, physicists find a way to keep track of lost accelerator particles

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.

St. Jude Research uses neutrons to shine light on shutting down cancer cells

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.

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.

Scientists achieve higher precision weak force measurement between protons, neutrons

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.

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).

West Virginia researchers use neutrons to study materials for power plant improvements

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.

Analyzing Matter’s Building Blocks

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.

X-rays size up protein structure at the ‘heart’ of COVID-19 virus

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.

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.

ORNL neutrons add advanced polarization capability for measuring magnetic materials

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.

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.

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.

Neutrons optimize high efficiency catalyst for greener approach to biofuel synthesis

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.