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Story tips from the US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory October 2010

NANO -- World's smallest antenna . . .

Instead of the conventional long piece of metal or dipole antenna, electronic devices of tomorrow could incorporate an antenna no bigger than a gnat. This is made possible by a design that allows an electrically charged nano-mechanical oscillator to be tuned to specific electromagnetic waves. "Gone will be the days when we need to match the antenna length to the wavelength," said Panos Datskos, a co-developer of this proprietary technology. The potentially revolutionary system detects very small electric fields over large frequency ranges while maintaining substantial power efficiency, making it ideal for environmental, homeland security and electric grid applications. Other developers are Nickolay Lavrik, Slo Rajic and Thomas Thundat. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

INDUSTRY -- A real steel . . .

Wireless sensors that alert steel mill operators to abnormal temperatures and vibrations that foretell wasted energy and imminent failure are expected to pay big dividends. Through the Department of Energy's Industrial Technologies Program, Oak Ridge National Laboratory has been commissioned to install and operate wireless sensors and controls to assess the energy savings of a suite of technologies, said Wayne Manges, a program manager in ORNL's Measurement Science and Systems Engineering Division. The measurements of motors and other components will be sent by secure radio signals to plant operators and archived for energy analysis. Similar technology used in the nuclear industry is avoiding down time and providing millions of dollars in savings. The steel mills involved in this project are in Braddock, Pa., and Cayce, S.C. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

COMPUTING -- Visualizing surprising beauty . . .

Expressed as raw data, a simulation performed on a supercomputer would appear as a formless sea of trillion-floating-operations-per-second calculations. But when the visualization researchers do their work, the results are often as colorful and captivating as they are revealing. Recently researchers from the computational science community gathered at the annual Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing Program (SciDAC) conference. The visualizations of supernovae, fusion reactors and shattering projectiles help researchers gain scientific insight from their computations: [Contact: Bill Cabage, (865) 574-4399;]

ENERGY STORAGE -- Beyond lithium ion symposium . . .

Growing interest in electric vehicles from the public, government and industry is creating a demand for scientific and technical advances in energy storage options. Experts in the field of electrochemical energy storage will bring their brainpower together at Oak Ridge National Laboratory Oct. 7-8 for a symposium called "Scalable Energy Storage Beyond Li-Ion: Materials Perspectives". A consortium of IBM Research and four DOE national labs (Argonne, Lawrence Berkeley, Oak Ridge, and Pacific Northwest) will hold talks, poster sessions and discussions to explore research opportunities in electrochemical energy storage. The ORNL conference, the third in a Beyond Lithium Ion series, will emphasize how materials science can accelerate progress in scalable energy storage. In 2009 IBM's Almaden Institute symposium was the first to address scalable energy storage, followed by Argonne National Lab's May 2010 symposium covering computational perspectives. For more information, visit the symposium website at [Contact: Morgan McCorkle, (865) 574-7308;]


Contact: Ron Walli
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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