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Story tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, June 2009

To arrange for an interview with a researcher, please contact the Communications and External Relations staff member identified at the end of each tip. For more information on ORNL and its research and development activities, please refer to one of our Media Contacts. If you have a general media-related question or comment, you can send it to

OPTICS -- Boost for biology . . .

Scientists examining cells to study diseases and potential cures could one day have a new tool that advances the field to a level previously only imagined. The digital holography technique detailed in OPTICS EXPRESS allows for high-precision 3D single-shot real-time recording that set new standards in the field. "This technology will give biologists the third dimension they need to study cells in great detail and it allows them to interact with a cell to see how it reacts to various drugs," said Chris Mann, a Wigner Fellow and member of Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Measurement Science and Systems Engineering Division. Specifically, Mann notes that the level of resolution and detail in images obtained with this new method clearly exceed those available today in phase-contrast optical microscopy. This research is funded by the Laboratory Directed Research and Development program. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

OPHTHALMOLOGY-- New precision tools . . .

Surgeons treating patients with eye diseases could soon have in their arsenal three novel microfabricated surgical instruments developed through a partnership between Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee Hamilton Eye Center in Memphis. The Retinal Clinch tool features a design that allows the surgeon to remove scar tissue from the surface of the retina with improved precision. This is because the height of the tiny glass spikes that perform the cutting are customized to match the thickness of the patient's eye membrane, thus tailoring the instrument to the patient's unique pathology. The other tools are the Corneal NanoPunch, used to enhance the healing of abrasions and erosions, and the Cornea Treatment Tool, useful for delivering drugs from the array of glass spikes on the tip of the tool to the exact disease sites. Patents are pending. This research has been funded by ORNL's Laboratory Directed Research and Development and maturation programs, and the UT Research Foundation. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

RESEARCH -- Superconductor citations . . .

An independent analysis of the field of high-temperature superconductors conducted by, which tracks global trends and performance in research, shows Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Amit Goyal ranks No. 1 worldwide in the total number of citations and No. 4 worldwide in the total number of papers published during the last decade (1999-2009). A recent interview with Goyal, a Corporate Fellow in the Materials Science and Technology Division, is posted on The analysis, which encompassed only citations in the field of high temperature superconductors research, ranks authors, institutions, and countries worldwide by number of citations, number of papers and average citations per paper. ORNL ranks third world-wide in the total number of citations and total number of papers in the field. [Contact: Bill Cabage, (865) 574-4399;]

ENERGY -- Energy efficient jobs . . .

Hundreds of new jobs are expected to result from production of a super-efficient water heater developed under an Oak Ridge National Laboratory-General Electric partnership. GE will be the first major brand to have a commercially available product that meets the 2009 Department of Energy "Energy Star" standards for electric water heaters. GE has announced that it will begin making the hybrid electric water heaters -- which are 50 percent more energy efficient than standard models -- at its Louisville, Ky., plant in 2011, creating about 400 jobs. The ORNL technology behind the water heater was funded by DOE's Building Technologies Program, which enabled the ORNL-GE cooperative research and development agreement that led to the new product. Much of the work was conducted at ORNL's Building Technologies Research and Integration Center. Tests show energy savings of $250 annually over a standard 50-gallon water heater. [Contact: Mike Bradley, (865) 576-9553;]


Contact: Ron Walli
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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