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Story tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory: April 2011

ho described the findings as counterintuitive. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

ELECTRONICS -- Phase transitions breakthrough

By reducing a material to the same nano scale as the electronic regions that reside within, researchers have gained a better understanding of the dynamics of electronic phase transitions. This information is critical to advances in several technologies that rely on competing resistive states such as random access memory for computers, low-energy magnetic cooling and next-generation materials to detect light. These findings, published by a team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Zac Ward, appear in Physical Review B. Using this strategy to confine a material, the researchers found that they can isolate and observe the effects of electric field, temperature and current on a single or a few of these regions as they seed, grow and transition. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

VEHICLES -- "Just in time"

A newly patented technology from Oak Ridge National Laboratory can help extend the lifetime of batteries in plug-in hybrid vehicles by optimizing the battery's state of charge while driving. Developed by ORNL's Robert DeVault, the computerized control uses data about recharging locations to improve the coordination of the battery and engine operation for trips beyond the vehicle's electric range. Knowing where charging stations are located can improve how the vehicle rations its battery power for longer battery life. By maintaining a higher state-of-charge during most of a trip, the patented control ensures that the battery enters a final discharge mode at the end of a trip "just in time" to obtain maximum recharging from the electric grid. "If you don't know where the trip is going to end, the engine's generator will make more electricity then you need to

Contact: Ron Walli
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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