Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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Encyclopedia
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is a multiprogram science and technology national laboratory managed for the United States Department of Energy
United States Department of Energy
The United States Department of Energy is a Cabinet-level department of the United States government concerned with the United States' policies regarding energy and safety in handling nuclear material...

 (DOE) by UT-Battelle
UT-Battelle
UT-Battelle, LLC is a limited liability partnership between the University of Tennessee and Battelle Memorial Institute that manages the Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy ....

. ORNL is the DOE's largest science and energy laboratory. ORNL is located in Oak Ridge
Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Oak Ridge is a city in Anderson and Roane counties in the eastern part of the U.S. state of Tennessee, about west of Knoxville. Oak Ridge's population was 27,387 at the 2000 census...

, Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

, near Knoxville
Knoxville, Tennessee
Founded in 1786, Knoxville is the third-largest city in the U.S. state of Tennessee, U.S.A., behind Memphis and Nashville, and is the county seat of Knox County. It is the largest city in East Tennessee, and the second-largest city in the Appalachia region...

. Scientists and engineers at ORNL conduct basic
Basic Research
Basic Research is an herbal supplement and cosmetics manufacturer based in Salt Lake City, Utah that distributes products through a large number of subsidiaries. In addition, their products are sold domestically and internationally through a number of high-end retailers. Dennis Gay is the...

 and applied
Applied research
Applied research is a form of systematic inquiry involving the practical application of science. It accesses and uses some part of the research communities' accumulated theories, knowledge, methods, and techniques, for a specific, often state, business, or client driven purpose...

 research and development
Research and development
The phrase research and development , according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, refers to "creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society, and the use of this stock of...

 to create scientific knowledge and technological solutions that build the nation's expertise in key areas of science; increase the availability of clean, abundant energy
Energy
In physics, energy is an indirectly observed quantity. It is often understood as the ability a physical system has to do work on other physical systems...

; restore and protect the environment
Environment (biophysical)
The biophysical environment is the combined modeling of the physical environment and the biological life forms within the environment, and includes all variables, parameters as well as conditions and modes inside the Earth's biosphere. The biophysical environment can be divided into two categories:...

; and contribute to national security
National security
National security is the requirement to maintain the survival of the state through the use of economic, diplomacy, power projection and political power. The concept developed mostly in the United States of America after World War II...

.

ORNL also performs other work for the Department of Energy, including isotope
Isotope
Isotopes are variants of atoms of a particular chemical element, which have differing numbers of neutrons. Atoms of a particular element by definition must contain the same number of protons but may have a distinct number of neutrons which differs from atom to atom, without changing the designation...

 production, information management
Information management
Information management is the collection and management of information from one or more sources and the distribution of that information to one or more audiences. This sometimes involves those who have a stake in, or a right to that information...

, and technical program management
Program management
Program management or programme management is the process of managing several related projects, often with the intention of improving an organization's performance...

, and provides research
Research
Research can be defined as the scientific search for knowledge, or as any systematic investigation, to establish novel facts, solve new or existing problems, prove new ideas, or develop new theories, usually using a scientific method...

 and technical assistance to other organizations.

Research Programs


ORNL conducts research and development activities that span a wide range of scientific disciplines. The laboratory's major research areas are described briefly below.
  • Neutron scattering
    Neutron scattering
    Neutron scattering,the scattering of free neutrons by matter,is a physical processand an experimental technique using this processfor the investigation of materials.Neutron scattering as a physical process is of primordial importance...

     - ORNL is home to two of the most advanced neutron scattering research facilities in the world, the Spallation Neutron Source
    Spallation Neutron Source
    The Spallation Neutron Source is an accelerator-based neutron source facility that provides the most intense pulsed neutron beams in the world for scientific research and industrial development...

     and the High Flux Isotope Reactor
    High Flux Isotope Reactor
    The High Flux Isotope Reactor is a nuclear research reactor located at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, United States...

    .


The Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) is a recently completed accelerator-based neutron source that provides the most intense pulsed neutron beams in the world for scientific and industrial research and development. With its eventual suite of up to 25 best-in-class instruments, SNS will give researchers detailed snapshots of smaller samples of physical and biological materials than previously possible. The diverse applications of neutron scattering research will provide opportunities for experts in practically every scientific and technical field.

The 85-MW High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) provides one of the highest steady-state neutron fluxes of any research reactor in the world. HFIR fulfills four missions: isotope production, materials irradiation, neutron activation, and neutron scattering, which is the focus of this report. The neutron scattering instruments at HFIR enable fundamental and applied research into the molecular and magnetic structures and behavior of materials. HFIR has 15 instruments planned or in operation. A new cold neutron source installed during a HFIR refurbishment in 2006–2007 greatly enhances the reactor’s research capabilities, particularly in the biological sciences.
  • High-performance computing
    High-performance computing
    High-performance computing uses supercomputers and computer clusters to solve advanced computation problems. Today, computer systems approaching the teraflops-region are counted as HPC-computers.-Overview:...

     - The National Center for Computational Sciences
    National Center for Computational Sciences
    The National Center for Computational Sciences is a United States Department of Energy Leadership Computing Facility. The NCCS provides resources for calculation and simulation in fields including astrophysics, materials, and climate research...

     (NCCS) provides the most powerful computing resources in the world for open scientific research. It is a research environment that supports advances in understanding how the physical world works and using that knowledge to address national and international concerns. The NCCS was founded in 1992 and is managed by the Advanced Scientific Computing Research program of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.


The Center is home to two massively parallel
Parallel computing
Parallel computing is a form of computation in which many calculations are carried out simultaneously, operating on the principle that large problems can often be divided into smaller ones, which are then solved concurrently . There are several different forms of parallel computing: bit-level,...

 computer systems manufactured by Cray
Cray
Cray Inc. is an American supercomputer manufacturer based in Seattle, Washington. The company's predecessor, Cray Research, Inc. , was founded in 1972 by computer designer Seymour Cray. Seymour Cray went on to form the spin-off Cray Computer Corporation , in 1989, which went bankrupt in 1995,...

. Jaguar, the more powerful system, is devoted to open scientific research, has a peak performance of 1.759 petaflops and is the world's third fastest system. To support its concentration of computing power, the NCCS has installed high-speed fiber-optic networks to expedite data movement, a scientific visualization
Scientific visualization
Scientific visualization is an interdisciplinary branch of science according to Friendly "primarily concerned with the visualization of three-dimensional phenomena , where the emphasis is on realistic renderings of volumes, surfaces, illumination sources, and so forth, perhaps...

 center that enables researchers to analyze their simulation results quickly and comprehensively, and a high-performance data archiving and retrieval system.

NCCS hosts only those projects capable of producing groundbreaking results. Each year a few research efforts that require enormous computing resources to realize their promise are given allocations of computing time that reach as much as several million processor-hours. Such unprecedented levels of computational power are key to investigating areas, such as designing fusion reactors that could provide carbon neutral, sustainable energy; engineering proteins to provide new therapies for diseases or release energy from biomass
Biomass
Biomass, as a renewable energy source, is biological material from living, or recently living organisms. As an energy source, biomass can either be used directly, or converted into other energy products such as biofuel....

 efficiently; studying climate change
Climate change
Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average...

; and designing new materials with specialized properties.
  • Nanotechnology
    Nanotechnology
    Nanotechnology is the study of manipulating matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Generally, nanotechnology deals with developing materials, devices, or other structures possessing at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometres...

     - Basic nanoscience research at ORNL emphasizes discovery of new materials and phenomena and the understanding of underlying physical and chemical interactions that enables prediction of the composition and properties of next-generation functional materials.
  • Biological systems
    Biology
    Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy. Biology is a vast subject containing many subdivisions, topics, and disciplines...

     - ORNL's initiative in complex biological systems draws on programs in bioenergy
    Bioenergy
    Bioenergy is renewable energy made available from materials derived from biological sources. Biomass is any organic material which has stored sunlight in the form of chemical energy. As a fuel it may include wood, wood waste, straw, manure, sugarcane, and many other byproducts from a variety of...

     (including the laboratory's new BioEnergy Science Center (BESC) dedicated to the study of cellulosic ethanol
    Cellulosic ethanol
    Cellulosic ethanol is a biofuel produced from wood, grasses, or the non-edible parts of plants.It is a type of biofuel produced from lignocellulose, a structural material that comprises much of the mass of plants. Lignocellulose is composed mainly of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin...

    ), comparative genomics
    Comparative genomics
    Comparative genomics is the study of the relationship of genome structure and function across different biological species or strains. Comparative genomics is an attempt to take advantage of the information provided by the signatures of selection to understand the function and evolutionary...

    , structural biology
    Structural biology
    Structural biology is a branch of molecular biology, biochemistry, and biophysics concerned with the molecular structure of biological macromolecules, especially proteins and nucleic acids, how they acquire the structures they have, and how alterations in their structures affect their function...

    , and computational biology
    Computational biology
    Computational biology involves the development and application of data-analytical and theoretical methods, mathematical modeling and computational simulation techniques to the study of biological, behavioral, and social systems...

     and bioinformatics
    Bioinformatics
    Bioinformatics is the application of computer science and information technology to the field of biology and medicine. Bioinformatics deals with algorithms, databases and information systems, web technologies, artificial intelligence and soft computing, information and computation theory, software...

    . This initiative focuses ORNL's expertise and facilities in a wide range of biological fields related to the challenges of observing and understanding the functioning of complex biological systems.
  • Energy
    Energy
    In physics, energy is an indirectly observed quantity. It is often understood as the ability a physical system has to do work on other physical systems...

     - ORNL is a major center for research and development on energy production, distribution
    Power transmission
    Power transmission is the movement of energy from its place of generation to a location where it is applied to performing useful work.Power is defined formally as units of energy per unit time...

    , and use and on the effects of energy technologies and decisions
    Energy policy
    Energy policy is the manner in which a given entity has decided to address issues of energy development including energy production, distribution and consumption...

     on society. Clean, efficient, safe production and use of energy are goals for research and development. At ORNL, unique facilities for energy-related R&D are used both for technology development and for fundamental investigations in the basic energy sciences that underpin the technology.
  • Materials science
    Materials science
    Materials science is an interdisciplinary field applying the properties of matter to various areas of science and engineering. This scientific field investigates the relationship between the structure of materials at atomic or molecular scales and their macroscopic properties. It incorporates...

    /Advanced materials - Scientists at ORNL are involved in studies ranging from fundamental research to the latest applications of virtually all classes of materials. ORNL's unique strengths in materials synthesis, processing, and characterization are applied to all areas of emphasis. Thousands of guest scientists come to ORNL each year to make use of its world-class facilities.
  • National security
    National security
    National security is the requirement to maintain the survival of the state through the use of economic, diplomacy, power projection and political power. The concept developed mostly in the United States of America after World War II...

     - ORNL provides federal, state and local government agencies and departments with technology and expertise to support national and homeland security
    Homeland security
    Homeland security is an umbrella term for security efforts to protect states against terrorist activity. Specifically, is a concerted national effort to prevent terrorist attacks within the U.S., reduce America’s vulnerability to terrorism, and minimize the damage and recover from attacks that do...

     needs. This technology and expertise is also shared with industry to enhance America’s economic competitiveness in world markets.
  • Chemical sciences
    Chemistry
    Chemistry is the science of matter, especially its chemical reactions, but also its composition, structure and properties. Chemistry is concerned with atoms and their interactions with other atoms, and particularly with the properties of chemical bonds....

     - ORNL conducts both fundamental and applied research in a number of areas, including catalysis
    Catalysis
    Catalysis is the change in rate of a chemical reaction due to the participation of a substance called a catalyst. Unlike other reagents that participate in the chemical reaction, a catalyst is not consumed by the reaction itself. A catalyst may participate in multiple chemical transformations....

    , surface science and interfacial chemistry; molecular transformations and fuel chemistry; heavy element chemistry and radioactive materials characterization; aqueous solution chemistry and geochemistry
    Geochemistry
    The field of geochemistry involves study of the chemical composition of the Earth and other planets, chemical processes and reactions that govern the composition of rocks, water, and soils, and the cycles of matter and energy that transport the Earth's chemical components in time and space, and...

    ; mass spectrometry
    Mass spectrometry
    Mass spectrometry is an analytical technique that measures the mass-to-charge ratio of charged particles.It is used for determining masses of particles, for determining the elemental composition of a sample or molecule, and for elucidating the chemical structures of molecules, such as peptides and...

     and laser spectroscopy; separations chemistry; materials chemistry including synthesis and characterization of polymers and other soft materials; chemical biosciences; and neutron science
    Neutron scattering
    Neutron scattering,the scattering of free neutrons by matter,is a physical processand an experimental technique using this processfor the investigation of materials.Neutron scattering as a physical process is of primordial importance...

    .
  • Electron microscopy  - ORNL's electron microscopy program investigates key issues in condensed matter
    Condensed Matter
    Condensed matter may refer to several things*Condensed matter physics, the study of the physical properties of condensed phases of matter*European Physical Journal B: Condensed Matter and Complex Systems, a scientific journal published by EDP sciences...

    , materials
    Materials science
    Materials science is an interdisciplinary field applying the properties of matter to various areas of science and engineering. This scientific field investigates the relationship between the structure of materials at atomic or molecular scales and their macroscopic properties. It incorporates...

    , chemical
    Chemistry
    Chemistry is the science of matter, especially its chemical reactions, but also its composition, structure and properties. Chemistry is concerned with atoms and their interactions with other atoms, and particularly with the properties of chemical bonds....

     and nanosciences
    Nanotechnology
    Nanotechnology is the study of manipulating matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Generally, nanotechnology deals with developing materials, devices, or other structures possessing at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometres...

    .
  • Nuclear medicine
    Nuclear medicine
    In nuclear medicine procedures, elemental radionuclides are combined with other elements to form chemical compounds, or else combined with existing pharmaceutical compounds, to form radiopharmaceuticals. These radiopharmaceuticals, once administered to the patient, can localize to specific organs...

     - The laboratory's nuclear medicine research is focused on the development of improved reactor production and processing methods to provide medical radioisotopes
    Radiopharmacology
    Radiopharmacology is the study and preparation of radiopharmaceuticals, which are radioactive pharmaceuticals. Radiopharmaceuticals are used in the field of nuclear medicine as tracers in the diagnosis and treatment of many diseases. Many radiopharmaceuticals use technetium-99m which has many...

    , the development of new radionuclide generator systems, the design and evaluation of new radiopharmaceuticals for applications in nuclear medicine and oncology
    Oncology
    Oncology is a branch of medicine that deals with cancer...

    .
  • Physics
    Physics
    Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

     - Physics research at ORNL is focused primarily on studies of the fundamental properties of matter
    Matter
    Matter is a general term for the substance of which all physical objects consist. Typically, matter includes atoms and other particles which have mass. A common way of defining matter is as anything that has mass and occupies volume...

     at the atom
    Atom
    The atom is a basic unit of matter that consists of a dense central nucleus surrounded by a cloud of negatively charged electrons. The atomic nucleus contains a mix of positively charged protons and electrically neutral neutrons...

    ic, nuclear
    Atomic nucleus
    The nucleus is the very dense region consisting of protons and neutrons at the center of an atom. It was discovered in 1911, as a result of Ernest Rutherford's interpretation of the famous 1909 Rutherford experiment performed by Hans Geiger and Ernest Marsden, under the direction of Rutherford. The...

    , and subnuclear
    Subatomic particle
    In physics or chemistry, subatomic particles are the smaller particles composing nucleons and atoms. There are two types of subatomic particles: elementary particles, which are not made of other particles, and composite particles...

     levels and the development of experimental devices in support of these studies.
  • Population
    Population
    A population is all the organisms that both belong to the same group or species and live in the same geographical area. The area that is used to define a sexual population is such that inter-breeding is possible between any pair within the area and more probable than cross-breeding with individuals...

     - ORNL provides federal, state and international organizations with a gridded population database, called Landscan, for estimating ambient population. LandScan is a raster image, or grid, of population counts, which provides human population estimates every 30 x 30 arc seconds, which translates roughly to population estimates for 1 kilometer square windows or grid cells at the equator, with cell width decreasing at higher latitudes. Though many population datasets exist, LandScan is the best spatial population dataset, which also covers the globe. Updated annually (although data releases are generally one year behind the current year) offers continuous, updated values of population, based on the most recent information. Landscan data are accessible through GIS  applications and a USAID public domain application called Population Explorer.

Facts and Figures


ORNL is managed by a limited liability partnership
Limited liability partnership
A limited liability partnership is a partnership in which some or all partners have limited liability. It therefore exhibits elements of partnerships and corporations. In an LLP one partner is not responsible or liable for another partner's misconduct or negligence. This is an important...

 between the University of Tennessee
University of Tennessee
The University of Tennessee is a public land-grant university headquartered at Knoxville, Tennessee, United States...

 and Battelle Memorial Institute
Battelle Memorial Institute
Battelle Memorial Institute is a private nonprofit applied science and technology development company headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. Battelle is a charitable trust organized as a nonprofit corporation under the laws of the State of Ohio and is exempt from taxation under Section 501 of the...

 known as UT-Battelle.

ORNL has a staff of about 4,600 full-time staff members, including 3000 scientists and engineers. The laboratory annually hosts approximately 3,000 guest researchers who spend two weeks or longer in Oak Ridge; about 25 percent of these visitors are from industry. ORNL receives 30,000 visitors each year, plus another 10,000 precollege students.

ORNL funding exceeds $1.65 billion annually; 80 percent of that amount comes from the Department of Energy, and 20 percent is from other federal and private customers. UT-Battelle, the laboratory's management and operating contractor, has provided more than $10 million in support of math and science education, economic development and other projects in the greater Oak Ridge region
East Tennessee
East Tennessee is a name given to approximately the eastern third of the U.S. state of Tennessee, one of the three Grand Divisions of Tennessee defined in state law. East Tennessee consists of 33 counties, 30 located within the Eastern Time Zone and three counties in the Central Time Zone, namely...

.

The laboratory occupies about 4470 acres (18.1 km²) of the 34000 acres (137.6 km²) Oak Ridge Reservation (ORR), which it shares with the East Tennessee Technology Park, the Y-12 National Security Complex
Y-12 National Security Complex
The Y-12 National Security Complex is a United States Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration facility located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, near the Oak Ridge National Laboratory...

, the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education
Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education
The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education is a U.S. Department of Energy institute headquartered in Oak Ridge, Tennessee focusing on scientific initiatives to research health risks from occupational hazards, assess environmental cleanup, respond to radiation medical emergencies, support...

, and the developing Oak Ridge Science and Technology Park. 20000 acres (80,937,200 m²) of the ORR, the Oak Ridge National Environmental Research Park, is an outdoor laboratory and a national user facility. It supports DOE-sponsored research in carbon cycling, ecosystem dynamics, global climate change, and remediation studies, as well as the research of numerous colleges, universities, and other state and federal agencies.

History




The facility that later became Oak Ridge National Laboratory was established as part of the Clinton Engineer Works
Clinton Engineer Works
The Clinton Engineer Works was the Army name for the Manhattan Project production facility in World War II for enriched uranium used in the Little Boy atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, and would have produced enough enriched uranium for a second Little Boy gun-type bomb by December 1945...

 for the Manhattan Project
Manhattan Project
The Manhattan Project was a research and development program, led by the United States with participation from the United Kingdom and Canada, that produced the first atomic bomb during World War II. From 1942 to 1946, the project was under the direction of Major General Leslie Groves of the US Army...

 in 1943 during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, when American scientists feared that Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 was rapidly developing an atomic bomb
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

. Both the laboratory and the nearby city of Oak Ridge
Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Oak Ridge is a city in Anderson and Roane counties in the eastern part of the U.S. state of Tennessee, about west of Knoxville. Oak Ridge's population was 27,387 at the 2000 census...

 were built by the United States Army Corps of Engineers
United States Army Corps of Engineers
The United States Army Corps of Engineers is a federal agency and a major Army command made up of some 38,000 civilian and military personnel, making it the world's largest public engineering, design and construction management agency...

 in less than a year on isolated farmland in the mountains of East Tennessee. Oak Ridge became a "secret city" that within two years housed more than 75,000 residents.

The goal of the Manhattan Project activities in Oak Ridge was to separate and produce uranium
Uranium
Uranium is a silvery-white metallic chemical element in the actinide series of the periodic table, with atomic number 92. It is assigned the chemical symbol U. A uranium atom has 92 protons and 92 electrons, of which 6 are valence electrons...

 and plutonium
Plutonium
Plutonium is a transuranic radioactive chemical element with the chemical symbol Pu and atomic number 94. It is an actinide metal of silvery-gray appearance that tarnishes when exposed to air, forming a dull coating when oxidized. The element normally exhibits six allotropes and four oxidation...

 for use in developing a nuclear weapon. This work was carried out in four facilities, code-named X-10
X-10 Graphite Reactor
The X-10 Graphite Reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, formerly known as the Clinton Pile and X-10 Pile, was the world's second artificial nuclear reactor and was the first reactor designed and built for continuous operation.When President Roosevelt in December 1942...

 (later to become Clinton Laboratories then Oak Ridge National Laboratory), Y-12
Y-12 National Security Complex
The Y-12 National Security Complex is a United States Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration facility located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, near the Oak Ridge National Laboratory...

, K-25
K-25
K-25 is a former uranium enrichment facility of the Manhattan Project which used the gaseous diffusion method. The plant is located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, on the southwestern end of the Oak Ridge Reservation.-History:...

, and S-50. X-10 was a demonstration plant for the process to produce plutonium from uranium by nuclear bombardment. Y-12 was dedicated to the electromagnetic separation of U-235. K-25 was a gaseous diffusion
Gaseous diffusion
Gaseous diffusion is a technology used to produce enriched uranium by forcing gaseous uranium hexafluoride through semi-permeable membranes. This produces a slight separation between the molecules containing uranium-235 and uranium-238 . By use of a large cascade of many stages, high separations...

 plant designed to separate U-235
Uranium-235
- References :* .* DOE Fundamentals handbook: Nuclear Physics and Reactor theory , .* A piece of U-235 the size of a grain of rice can produce energy equal to that contained in three tons of coal or fourteen barrels of oil. -External links:* * * one of the earliest articles on U-235 for the...

 from U-238
Uranium-238
Uranium-238 is the most common isotope of uranium found in nature. It is not fissile, but is a fertile material: it can capture a slow neutron and after two beta decays become fissile plutonium-239...

; the S-50 liquid thermal diffusion plant was located nearby.

Working under assumed names, in 1943 Enrico Fermi
Enrico Fermi
Enrico Fermi was an Italian-born, naturalized American physicist particularly known for his work on the development of the first nuclear reactor, Chicago Pile-1, and for his contributions to the development of quantum theory, nuclear and particle physics, and statistical mechanics...

 and his colleagues developed the X-10 Graphite Reactor
X-10 Graphite Reactor
The X-10 Graphite Reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, formerly known as the Clinton Pile and X-10 Pile, was the world's second artificial nuclear reactor and was the first reactor designed and built for continuous operation.When President Roosevelt in December 1942...

, the world's first production nuclear reactor
Nuclear reactor
A nuclear reactor is a device to initiate and control a sustained nuclear chain reaction. Most commonly they are used for generating electricity and for the propulsion of ships. Usually heat from nuclear fission is passed to a working fluid , which runs through turbines that power either ship's...

, to demonstrate the production of plutonium. This built on work done by Fermi and his colleagues at the University of Chicago in 1942 which created the world's first experimental nuclear reactor Chicago Pile-1
Chicago Pile-1
Chicago Pile-1 was the world's first man-made nuclear reactor. CP-1 was built on a rackets court, under the abandoned west stands of the original Alonzo Stagg Field stadium, at the University of Chicago. The first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction was initiated in CP-1 on December 2, 1942...

 and the first sustained nuclear reaction on December 2, 1942. The plutonium production piloted at X-10 was carried out on a much larger scale at the Hanford Site
Hanford Site
The Hanford Site is a mostly decommissioned nuclear production complex on the Columbia River in the U.S. state of Washington, operated by the United States federal government. The site has been known by many names, including Hanford Works, Hanford Engineer Works or HEW, Hanford Nuclear Reservation...

, which produced the plutonium used in the "Fat Man
Fat Man
"Fat Man" is the codename for the atomic bomb that was detonated over Nagasaki, Japan, by the United States on August 9, 1945. It was the second of the only two nuclear weapons to be used in warfare to date , and its detonation caused the third man-made nuclear explosion. The name also refers more...

" atomic bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan in August 1945.

ORNL's involvement with nuclear weapons ended after the war. The laboratory's scientific expertise shifted in the 1950s and 1960s to peacetime research in medicine, biology, materials and physics. During this period the Graphite Reactor was used to produce the world's first medical radioisotopes for treating cancer. Following the creation of the U.S. Department of Energy in 1977, ORNL's mission broadened to include research in energy production
Energy development
Energy development is the effort to provide sufficient primary energy sources and secondary energy forms for supply, cost, impact on air pollution and water pollution, mitigation of climate change with renewable energy....

, transmission
Electric power transmission
Electric-power transmission is the bulk transfer of electrical energy, from generating power plants to Electrical substations located near demand centers...

 and consumption.

The end of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 and the growth of international terrorism
Terrorism
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

 led to a further expansion of research into a range of national security-related technologies. As the laboratory entered the 21st century, new cross-disciplinary programs in nanophase materials, computational sciences and biology
Biology
Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy. Biology is a vast subject containing many subdivisions, topics, and disciplines...

 has led to the term "nano-info-bio" to describe the emerging synthesis in ORNL's research agenda.

See also

  • American Museum of Science and Energy
    American Museum of Science and Energy
    The American Museum of Science and Energy is a science museum in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, designed to teach both children and adults about energy, especially nuclear power, and to document the role Oak Ridge played in the Manhattan Project. The museum opened as the American Museum of Atomic Energy in...

  • Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences
    Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences
    The Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences was the first to open of the five Nanoscale Science Research Centers the United States Department of Energy sponsors. The Center's location is in Oak Ridge, Tennessee...

  • K-25 Gaseous Diffusion Plant
    K-25
    K-25 is a former uranium enrichment facility of the Manhattan Project which used the gaseous diffusion method. The plant is located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, on the southwestern end of the Oak Ridge Reservation.-History:...

  • Karl Z. Morgan
    Karl Z. Morgan
    Karl Ziegler Morgan , was an American physicist who was one of the founders of the field of radiation health physics...

  • National Transportation Research Center
    National Transportation Research Center
    For the sigma N-transcription factor activator protein in prokaryotes, see NtrCThe National Transportation Research Center is an institution, located in Knoxville, Tennessee, that conducts research and development aimed at increasing the efficiency and safety of transportation systems and...

  • Sandia National Laboratory
  • Spallation Neutron Source
    Spallation Neutron Source
    The Spallation Neutron Source is an accelerator-based neutron source facility that provides the most intense pulsed neutron beams in the world for scientific research and industrial development...

  • Y-12 National Security Complex
    Y-12 National Security Complex
    The Y-12 National Security Complex is a United States Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration facility located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, near the Oak Ridge National Laboratory...


General Information


Research Programs


Research Facilities


Research Divisions


History


Related Organizations and Facilities


Additional resources