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Sprinting into the New Millenium: The Latest Chapter in ORNL History (1993-2003)

As in the first 50 years of Oak Ridge National Laboratory's history, the past 10 years have been marked by numerous changes. ORNL's managing contractor, Martin Marietta Energy Systems, morphed into Lockheed Martin Energy Systems in 1995, which was replaced by a partnership between the University of Tennessee and Battelle in 2000. A major modernization program was started in 2002. Among those who attended the groundbreaking ceremony, in late 1999, for ORNL's new anchor facility, the Spallation Neutron Source, were Vice President Al Gore and Nobel laureate Clifford Shull. The SNS replaces the previously proposed Advanced Neutron Source. More women were promoted to top jobs, with two serving as division directors. An increasing number of postdoctoral researchers began working at ORNL, including many who are natives of China, India, Mexico, and Russia, making the face of the Lab even more diverse.

Here are some highlights of ORNL's history in the past 10 years.


By 1993 researchers led by John Bates had developed a thin-film lithium microbattery for computer memory chips and small devices. The technology was licensed and the microbattery has been at various stages of manufacturing scaleup. Nancy Dudney has carried on the work and has used ORNL's Infrared Processing Center for experiments in an effort to make the battery a more marketable product.

In the biomedical area, ORNL researchers Scott Bultman, Ed Michaud, and Rick Woychik identified and cloned the mouse agouti gene, which causes altered fur color, obesity, diabetes, and skin cancer in mice and which has a human counterpart. Richard Mural and Ed Uberbacher developed a neural-network system for recognizing genes in digitized DNA sequences sent by electronic mail. The Gene Recognition and Analysis Internet Link (GRAIL) system is widely used today.

Ed Michaud observes the activity of normal and mutant mice in large beakers at the Mouse House
Ed Michaud observes the activity of normal and mutant mice in large beakers at the Mouse House.

Under the leadership of Russ Knapp, the rhenium-188 isotope generator was developed and tested for the treatment of cancer-induced bone and liver pain, arthritis, and prevention of the buildup of smooth muscle cells in coronary arteries after balloon angioplasty. Today it is used in many developing countries, from Colombia to the Philippines.

An optical biopsy technique using a special algorithm was developed by Tuan Vo-Dinh and medical researchers in Knoxville, Tennessee. In this technique, light is sent and received through a fiber-optic channel in an endoscope, allowing determination of whether a tumor in the esophagus is malignant or non-cancerous based on patterns of fluorescence. It has been shown effective in 98% of patient studies at Thompson Cancer Survival Center in Knoxville.

Omni-directional robotic vehicles (including a wheelchair concept that was licensed for potential commercial development) were invented by Francois Pin and Stephen Killough. Led by Jack Dongarra, ORNL researchers developed the first Top500 list of statistics on high-performance computers. This new statistical foundation is of major interest to manufacturers, users, and potential users. The list has been updated twice a year since, with the help of high-performance manufacturers and the Internet community.


In 1994, Mike Ramsey invented the "lab on a chip," which shows promise as an inexpensive method for DNA sequencing and forensic fingerprinting, environmental monitoring, diagnosing disease, and discovering new drugs. It is now being produced and marketed by Caliper Technologies for DNA, RNA, and proteins analyses of biomedical interest.

Mike Ramsey shows an early version of the
Mike Ramsey shows an early version of the "lab on a chip" he invented at ORNL for chemical analysis on a small scale.

During the 1980s and 1990s, ORNL researchers, Scott McLuckey, Gary Glish, Doug Goeringer, Gary Van Berkel, Kevin Hart, and Marc Wise, made a number of fundamental discoveries in quadrupole ion trap mass spectrometry. This instrument stores ions within an oscillating electric field that are ejected from the trap into a detector according to their mass-to-charge ratios. This research led to the development of the direct-sampling ion trap mass spectrometer for rapid, on-site measurements of concentrations of pollutants in environmental samples of air, water, and soil. This instrument is also the heart of the chemical biological mass spectrometer, developed partly by a team led by Wayne Griest for the U.S. Army for real-time detection of chemical and biological threat agents.

 Roosevelt Meriweather and Rob Smith check the operation of the chemical biological mass spectrometer developed partly by ORNL researchers to help U.S. Army soldiers detect chemical and biological warfare weapons.
Roosevelt Meriweather and Rob Smith check the operation of the chemical biological mass spectrometer developed partly by ORNL researchers to help U.S. Army soldiers detect chemical and biological warfare weapons.

During the 1990s, by improving secondary ion mass spectrometers, Peter Todd imaged and analyzed target molecules in whole tissues, including neurotransmitters in brain tissue. McLuckey, Van Berkel, and Glish were the first to couple the electrospray ionization technique with the ion trap mass spectrometer, enabling the identification of proteins. In 2002 Van Berkel adapted a mass spectrometer for possible homeland security applications as a boarding pass analyzer for screening airport passengers who may have telltale chemicals on their hands that indicate they had recently handled explosives.

Bill Partridge and others developed the spatially resolved capillary inlet mass spectrometer measurement strategy to characterize reactions within after-treatment devices used to remove pollutants from the exhaust gases of diesel engines. This technology is being adopted by government, academic, and industrial research labs, including those of Cummins, Ford, and Engelhard.

ORNL researchers led by John Drake modified climate-modeling codes so they could be run on powerful parallel supercomputers at ORNL and elsewhere. These codes could be used to predict the climate 100 years from now, assuming various scenarios of increased industrial and automotive emissions of the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, as well as deployment of carbon sequestration technologies.

Lynne Parker developed ALLIANCE, the first software architecture to enable cooperation among teams of heterogeneous autonomous mobile robot systems. She worked with Caterpillar Inc., and the U.S. military to adapt these systems for use in remote mining and urban rescue operations.

Lynne Parker places a baton in the gripper of one robot (jpg, 61K)
Lynne Parker prepares to place a baton in the gripper of one robot, which will pass it across the wooden barrier to another robot. These are two of ORNL's four "Nomad technology" robots, which are named Ada, Alexandra, Edith, and Grace after female pioneers in computer science. The two smaller robots are named after Roman emperors Hadrian and Augustus in honor of CESAR—ORNL's Center for Engineering Science Advanced Research.

Researchers at ORNL's Center for Engineering Science Advanced Research (CESAR) developed the first general method for fusing information from multiple sensors.


In January, ORNL had the fastest parallel supercomputer in the world- the Intel Paragon XP/S 150. This machine was used for calculations on a variety of important problems such as global climate modeling, materials science simulations, theoretical physics, and bioinformatics. It was also used to model the flow of pollutants in groundwater. ORNL scientists led by Thomas Zacharia and later Srdan Simunovic simulated the effects of car collisions on the cars' structural material to provide information on how to make future energy-efficient, lightweight vehicles hold up in crashes as well as or better than today's heavier steel vehicles.

Researchers at ORNL and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville developed a parallel virtual machine (PVM) software package that permits a variety of desktop computers linked by a network to be used as a single large parallel computer. Hundreds of sites around the world are using PVM software to solve important scientific, industrial, and medical problems. By 1995 half a million users took advantage of PVM.

A team of computer scientists from Oak Ridge, Los Alamos, Sandia, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, in conjunction with IBM, developed an ultra-fast data storage system known as the High Performance Storage System. This software applies the concept of parallelism to the data storage regime to achieve speeds that have been unattainable using conventional storage strategies. An HPSS is used at ORNL for DOE's Atmospheric Radiation Monitoring program.

Another important development in computer science at ORNL was the Message Passing Interface, now the dominant programming paradigm of scientific codes worldwide.

Computer simulation of a Ford Explorer crashing against a rigid barrier.
Computer simulation of a Ford Explorer crashing against a rigid barrier.

ORNL researchers led by Bob Hawsey, Don Kroeger, and Amit Goyal developed the rolling-assisted biaxial textured substrates (RABiTSTM) technique for fabricating nickel-based superconducting wire. The technique is being further refined by five industrial licensees, and the ORNL-developed wires are expected to be used commercially by 2010.

Under the direction of Gerald Bunick, DNA-protein crystals from ORNL were grown in space aboard the U.S. Space Shuttle Columbia and later two orbiting space stations- the Russian Mir and the International Space Station.

ORNL researchers led by Thomas Thundat developed microcantilever sensors, which measure physical, chemical, and biological changes based on alterations in the vibrations or bending of the sensors, which resemble tiny diving boards. These alterations are detected by changes in the angle of deflection of laser light striking the sensors. The microcantilever technology was licensed later to several companies; it shows promise for detecting explosives at airports; environmental pollutants, such as mercury; and early signs of prostate cancer. ORNL research led by Winston Chen developed a laser mass spectrometry method that could be used to identify carriers of the cystic fibrosis gene.

ORNL researchers led by Randall Wetherington developed a sonar array and signal analysis system for the U.S. Navy. The signal analysis system employed a real-time supercomputer to extract the noise signature from passing submarines that is below that of the ambient sea noises.

Vinod Sikka and others developed the Exo-Melt furnace concept used for efficiently and safely melting and casting alloys of ORNL-designed nickel aluminides. The NiAl alloys are used for trays in furnaces for hardening automotive parts and for steel industry rollers for heating steel plates being manufactured. ORNL researchers led by David Stinton and Rod Judkins developed and commercialized the 3M hot-gas ceramic filter for plants with pressurized fluidized-bed combustion and integrated coal gasification combined cycles. This filter is lighter, more reliable, and more efficient than conventional filters.

Thanks to the computer modeling and empirical research led by Stan David, ORNL is the international leader in understanding and predicting relationships between weld microstructure and properties and the effects on these of different welding processes.

Welding during construction of the Spallation Neutron Source at ORNL.
Welding during construction of the Spallation Neutron Source at ORNL.

Using the Holifield Radioactive Ion Beam Facility, physicists led by Cyrus Baktash discovered superdeformed light nuclei with masses in the range of 80 to 90.

In biological research Cymbeline Culiat and Eugne Rinchik demonstrated that deficiency of a neurotransmitter receptor leads to cleft palate in mice, resulting in tests by geneticists to determine whether the human gene for this receptor is important in human cleft palate.


James Klett and Tim Burchell discovered how to make a graphite foam that transfers heat unusually well. Its potential applications are legion. They include smaller radiators that enable racecars and future energy-efficient automobiles to be more aerodynamic in design; improved cooling to enable operation of faster computer chips; and more comfortable protective suits for emergency responders.

Ed Vineyard and others developed a more energy-efficient refrigerator-freezer by altering a popular refrigerator model to cut its energy use in half.

ORNL researchers led by Ken Tobin developed a new technology for classifying defects in semiconductor wafers called Spatial Signature Analysis. The software also enables computers to alert engineers early to problems in wafer manufacturing, improving product yield and saving money. It has since been licensed to 18 companies.

ORNL's Steve Kercel and Bill Dress helped Oak Ridge Y-12 Plant researchers develop a heartbeat detector to spot terrorists concealed in vehicles entering government facilities. It is being used to locate escaping prisoners.

Using neutron data and computational modeling, ORNL researchers led by Peter Cummings gained new insights into the structure of water. ORNL neutron-scattering results obtained by George Wignall and others helped North Carolina researchers determine the best ways to make plastics from chemicals in supercritical carbon dioxide, an environmentally friendly solvent that may replace chlorofluorocarbons, which destroy the protective stratospheric ozone layer.

Larry Allard and others showed the potential of the Internet for remote operation of research equipment such as electron microscopes. Al Geist led the development of a searchable electronic notebook for scientific collaborations involving remote operation of experimental apparatuses.

Larry Allard (seated) and Edgar Voelkl demonstrate the remote operation of an electron microscope.
Larry Allard (seated) and Edgar Voelkl demonstrate the remote operation of an electron microscope.

James Kohl and others developed CUMULVS to help scientists simulate experiments and change the parameters in midcourse to influence the results, saving time and money. Malcolm Stocks and Bill Shelton used computer simulation to better understand the complex magnetic behavior of Invar, a disordered nickel-iron alloy that maintains its dimensions over a wide temperature range.

CESAR researchers achieved the first cooperative multi-robot observation of multiple moving targets.


The Spallation Neutron Source proposed for ORNL received its first conceptual design funds ($130 million). The SNS, on schedule for completion by 2006, will be the world's most powerful pulsed-neutron source, helping to make ORNL the world's leading center for neutron-scattering research.

Environmental researchers completed the world's largest experiment on a forest, at Walker Branch Watershed. It demonstrated the ecological effects of altered rainfall regime on eastern deciduous forests, mimicking the potential results (e.g., drought and above-normal precipitation) from climate change.

An ORNL-developed instrument developed under the leadership of John Mihalczo helped to verify that Russian weapons-grade uranium is being converted to reactor-grade fuel. This technology was one of ORNL's contributions to national security and nonproliferation.

ORNL researchers led by Wayne Griest began developing a second-generation mass spectrometer for the U.S. Army to detect chemical and biological warfare agents more quickly and accurately, reducing the number of false positives experienced by the first-generation mass spectrometer during the Persian Gulf War (1990-91).

ORNL researchers led by Ken Tobin developed a new technology (VITALE) that assisted several law-enforcement agencies in recovering and enhancing signals from damaged or worn video and audio tapes leading, in one case, to the capture and conviction of a murder suspect in a convenience store robbery.

ORNL computing scientists led by Dongarra developed NetSolve, which enables users to solve complex scientific problems remotely. NetSolve searches for computational resources on a network, chooses the best one available, gets the problem solved, and returns the answers to the user.

ORNL researchers began developing a chip-writing system using electron beams to make faster silicon chips for computers. A possible source of these beams turned out to be carbon nanotubes, which are produced at ORNL using laser ablation and chemical vapor deposition as part of the Laboratory's nanoscience initiative.

ORNL and UT researchers (Mike Simpson and Gary Saylor) developed a living "critters on a chip" electronic sensor in which engineered bacteria light up in the presence of a specific chemical, such as a soil contaminant, causing the chip to send an electronic signal. Perkin-Elmer worked on developing this concept into a commercial instrument for environmental uses.

ORNL researchers led by Francois Pin developed a "human amplification" device that allows a worker to lift and position a multi-ton payload by exerting and feeling just a few pounds of force.


Audrey Stevens became the most recent ORNL biologist to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences. She was recognized for her successes in identifying numerous enzymes and proteins involved in RNA metabolism.

High-carbon sweetgum forest (jpg, 114K)
Standing in a hydraulic lift at the FACE facility, Rich Norby collects leaves in the high-carbon sweetgum forest for measurements of leaf mass, nitrogen concentrations, and rates of photosynthesis.

ORNL completed construction and began operation of the Free Air Carbon Dioxide Enrichment (FACE) facility to evaluate the effects of increased carbon dioxide on a closed-canopy sweetgum plantation on the Oak Ridge Reservation. Early findings showed that the trees grew faster in stem and root mass and conserved water during dry conditions.

ORNL researchers demonstrated the use of engineered microorganisms for detection of unexploded land mines.

Using geographical information system technology, Jerry Dobson wrote a controversial paper covered in the national press. He suggested that Neanderthals may be different from other human species because of an iodine deficiency in their inland diet or a genetic defect that prevented them from absorbing sufficient iodine from food.

ORNL researchers led by Stocks and colleagues elsewhere were the first to model magnetism in a metallic alloy using teraflops computing—making a trillion calculations per second.

ORNL computing scientists developed Tennessee/Oak Ridge Clusters (TORC), a set of dedicated clusters of Linux/NT desktop computers used for research in parallel computing and applied mathematical and scientific computations. Built using off-the-shelf components (Pentium Pro motherboards, Linus/NT, Fast Ethernet, Myrinet), TORC can achieve gigaflop performance for around $30,000, making it comparable to systems costing many times more.

The TRUST global optimization algorithm was developed to help the oil and gas exploration industry. ORNL and UT computing scientists led by Dongarra developed ATLAS, an approach for the automatic generation and optimization of numerical software for processors with deep memory hierarchies and pipelined functional units.


Ground was broken December 15, 1999, for the Spallation Neutron Source, which will be built by 2006. Present at the groundbreaking were Vice President Al Gore, Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson, Tennessee Governor Don Sundquist, and members of the Tennessee congressional delegation.

Vice President Al Gore and outgoing Office of Science Director Martha Krebs posed after the groundbreaking with directors of five of the six national laboratories participating in the SNS partnership: From left: Charles Shank of LBNL; Krebs; John Browne of LANL; Gore; Yoon Chang, ANL's interim director; Denis McWhan, who represented BNL's John Marburger; and Al Trivelpiece, then ORNL director.
Vice President Al Gore and outgoing Office of Science Director Martha Krebs posed after the groundbreaking with directors of five of the six national laboratories participating in the SNS partnership: From left: Charles Shank of LBNL; Krebs; John Browne of LANL; Gore; Yoon Chang, ANL's interim director; Denis McWhan, who represented BNL's John Marburger; and Al Trivelpiece, then ORNL director.

ORNL's Michael Paulus and Shaun Gleason developed the MicroCAT scanner, an X-ray computed tomography system for mapping internal defects and organ changes in experimental mice. By the end of 2002, their company, ImTek, Inc., had sold 17 scanners for cancer, genetics, and drug discovery research; 75% of their customers are universities, the rest, private firms.

ORNL was named a leader of DOE's Center for Research on Enhancing Carbon Sequestration in Terrestrial Ecosystems. ORNL began studies on the sequestration, or isolation, of atmospheric or industrially produced carbon dioxide by forests and vegetation, as well as geological formations, including methane-bearing underground coal beds.

ORNL's alloy studies using neutron scattering and other characterization tools led to retrofits—replacing the traditional steel with a new one—and replacements of boilers in the paper industry, making it safer and more efficient.

Tuan Vo-Dinh inspects an early version of the multifunctional biochip he helped develop. It uses DNA, proteins, and antibodies to rapidly diagnose disease. It may someday be used in doctor's offices.
Tuan Vo-Dinh inspects an early version of the multifunctional biochip he helped develop. It uses DNA, proteins, and antibodies to rapidly diagnose disease. It may someday be used in doctor's offices.

Vo-Dinh, Alan Wintenberg, and others developed a multifunctional biochip. Versions of it may be produced commercially for use in doctors' offices to rapidly diagnose diseases.

An initiative to conduct research in nanoscience was begun. Work started in such areas as downsizing the microfluidics "lab on a chip" to a nanofluidics chip and producing and characterizing carbon nanotubes, hollow tubes about a billionth of a meter in diameter made of carbon atoms in a hexagonal arrangement. Vo-Dinh was the first to develop a nanosensor that probes the workings of a living cell.


In April 2000, UT-Battelle became DOE's managing contractor of ORNL, replacing Lockheed Martin Energy Systems. Bill Madia was named ORNL director.

Corporate Fellow Liana Russell and ORNL Director Bill Madia
ORNL Corporate Fellow Liane Russell, a pioneer in mouse genetics research, shares a few minutes with ORNL Director Bill Madia.

Using HRIBF, Dan Bardayan, Michael Smith, and others improved predictions of the abundances of 87 different isotopes in stellar explosions.

Two new supercomputers, theIBM RS/6000 SP and Compaq AlphaServer SC, became operational. ORNL researchers evaluated the performance of these machines and developed software tools to increase the efficiency of their performance in solving scientific problems.

Using PROSPECT software developed at ORNL, an ORNL team places 6th out of 123 groups worldwide in the international Critical Assessment of Techniques for Protein Structure Prediction competition, putting it in the top 4% and ahead of all other DOE labs. ORNL was one of several DOE labs involved in completing the draft sequencing of human chromosomes 5, 16, and 19.

Led by Mike Karnitz and Ray Johnson, ORNL materials characterization and ceramics developments helped improve efficiency and reduce emissions of power-producing gas turbines and microturbines and diesel engines for heavy trucks. To help make future transportation safer, cleaner, and more efficient, UT and ORNL opened the National Transportation Research Center in west Knoxville.

Chemical methods were devised by Arpad Vass and others to determine when murder victims died. These methods were tested on corpses at UT's Body Farm.

John Tomlinson in collaboration with an industrial firm developed an energy-saving heat pump water heater. National deployment of such a device would reduce the nation's energy consumption by 1%.

David Harper performs materials processing using the robotically controlled plasma arc lamp at the Infrared Processing Center at ORNL.
David Harper performs materials processing using the robotically controlled plasma arc lamp at the Infrared Processing Center at ORNL.

The Infrared Processing Center, managed by Craig Blue, began attracting industrial users because of its potential to make metallic sheets from powder and longer-lasting coatings for metal parts.

ORNL fusion theorists conceived of the Quasi-Poloidal Stellarator, which may be built at ORNL by 2007. An ORNL supercomputer was used to simulate the device's plasma and magnetic coils, as well as the use of radio waves to heat and control fusion plasmas. The goal of the research is to develop a fusion power device that is compact and cost effective.

Using HRIBF, Jorg Gomez del Campo and Jim Beene led a group that discovered a new form of radioactivity-simultaneous emission of two protons from a decaying atomic nucleus.


ORNL's gene-finding tool GRAIL, modified for use on ORNL's parallel supercomputers, and bioinformatics analyses at the Laboratory were used in landmark papers in special February issues of Science and Nature. These issues published the draft of the human genome. GRAIL was mentioned on Science's human genome program timeline.

Artist's conception of the new Mouse House and buildings

Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham visited ORNL and announced that DOE land will be transferred to ORNL for construction of new research facilities. The groundbreaking for the long-awaited Mouse House was held. It and some of the other facilities under construction are expected to open for research in July 2003.

ORNL's new $13.9 million Mouse House
ORNL's new $13.9 million Mouse House (left) will be built by spring 2003 by Turner-Universal of Nashville. It will be a state-of-the-art animal research facility with a capacity for 60,000 mice. The Mouse House and the buildings in the front—to be constructed between 2007 and 2111—are located in the Marilyn Lloyd Environmental and Life Sciences Complex (above).

Biologists Dabney Johnson, Culiat, and Rinchik proved they had developed mouse models for both the acute and the chronic forms of the human disease hereditary tyrosinemia, enabling laboratory tests that might lead to therapies for humans.

The High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) resumed full-power operation after a 14-month outage, including replacement of its beryllium reflector; cold neutron source equipment and a building to house 15 state-of-the-art neutron scattering instruments were added.

Direct-to-digital holography for high-speed, high-resolution defect inspection in semiconductor wafers was licensed to nLine. C. E. Thomas, a former ORNL researcher, is president of nLine, which is building inspection systems and marketing them to the semiconductor industry.

An ORNL group led by Gene Ice and Ben Larson was the first to obtain a three-dimensional X-ray diffraction pattern of a metal's grain structure at submicron resolution. The device uses the laser-like X rays from the Advanced Photon Source at DOE's Argonne National Laboratory.

Tony Mezzacappa formed a national collaboration to simulate core-collapse supernovae to pin down the star's explosion mechanism and to predict element synthesis and neutrino and gravitational wave emissions. An ORNL group led by Glenn Young and Frank Plasil developed detectors for DOE's Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Laboratory to study the quark-gluon plasma, mimicking the beginning of the universe.

ORNL researchers led by Hawsey helped industry (Waukesha, Southwire) develop and test a superconducting transformer and a high-temperature superconducting cable for an industrial complex.

ORNL began participating in the 21st Century Truck Partnership. Laboratory staff offered their expertise in lightweight materials, intelligent vehicle systems, and advanced diesel engines to increase safety, fuel economy, and performance and to lower emissions in large trucks.

DOE's Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing initiative funded computational research at ORNL in astrophysics, climate prediction, and fusion plasma modeling.


The IBM Power4 "Cheetah" supercomputer at ORNL, the 16th fastest in the world at the end of 2002, began operation. ORNL and Cray Inc., forged a partnership under the guidance of DOE and the cooperation of other national laboratories. This collaboration was expected to result in supercomputers that will exceed the capabilities of Japan's 40-teraflop Earth Simulator, the fastest computer in the world in 2002.

ORNL management identified Laboratory technologies that could be used for homeland security and national defense. Jim Kulesz came up with the SensorNet concept, which won national attention and some funding; the idea was to locate radiation, chem-bio, and wind-direction monitors, computers, and communication devices at cell-phone towers to alert affected populations, emergency responders, and health-care facilities about terrorist attacks so they could take appropriate action to save lives. ORNL's boarding pass analyzer, a mass spectrometer that detects trace explosives developed by Gary Van Berkel and others, was another technology that was promoted. A third one was the AquaSentinel—developed by Eli Greenbaum and others—in which the change in detected light patterns emitted by sunlit algae taking up a poison can be used to indicate a terrorist attack on a city's drinking water system. Also, an ORNL team helped the U.S. Army envision the "soldier of the future."

To provide space for more powerful supercomputers and a modernized, more-energy-efficient environment for research, construction began on new research buildings that will make up ORNL's "new campus." In August, Governor Don Sundquist and U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp (R-Tennessee) were present at the groundbreaking ceremony for the building that will house the Joint Institute for Computational Sciences and the Oak Ridge Center for Advanced Studies. This building will be funded by the state of Tennessee. The other buildings under construction are being paid for by private financing through the building contractor Colliers Keenan and by DOE. The DOE budget also contained funds for the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences to be built next to the SNS and the Advanced Materials Characterization Laboratory, which will provide a quiet, vibration-free facility to house the world's best aberration-corrected electron microscopes.

Artist’s concept of the new building to house the Joint Institute for Computational Sciences, as well as the new Oak Ridge Center for Advanced Studies.
Artist's concept of the new building to house the Joint Institute for Computational Sciences, as well as the new Oak Ridge Center for Advanced Studies.

Researchers at HRIBF led by David Radford were the first to create a tin-132 beam. This success will allow physicists to begin probing the storied unstable "doubly magic" nuclei—rare, short-lived isotopes valued for their rigid, closed shells of protons and neutrons in their nuclei.

ORNL's direct-sampling ion trap mass spectrometer was accepted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for on-site characterization of waste sites.

The first Habitat for Humanity house was built to showcase ORNL-tested energy-efficiency technologies, combined with photovoltaic solar collectors. The goal of this research is an affordable zero-energy home—one that produces as much energy as it consumes.

ORNL became involved in three of five major programs that are funded by DOE's Genomes to Life Initiative.

The largest shipment of actinium-225, extracted from ORNL's uranium-233 stockpile, was made for treatment of patients with acute myeloid leukemia and for medical research. ORNL's heart imaging agent— a fatty acid labeled with radioactive iodine-123—was commercially produced and used in both Russia and Japan. It has been used worldwide in over 350,000 patient studies.

ORNL researchers worked on determining the identity and order of DNA bases in Populus, the first tree genome to be sequenced; the goals are enhanced carbon sequestration and production of biomass for fuels and fiber.

Strong industrial interest was expressed in ORNL's 3-chrome steel for chemical pressure vessels and fossil power plant boiler equipment.

OSCAR, a national software effort led by ORNL, became the most used cluster-computing management software in the world.

Artist's conception of the new East Campus (lower part of the image) to be constructed at ORNL by  2003.
Artist's conception of the new East Campus (lower part of the image) to be constructed at ORNL by 2003.

ORNL won NASA funding to help design a potassium Rankine cycle power conversion system that could be coupled to a nuclear reactor for a Mars-bound spacecraft.


In January 2003, ORNL and UT-Battelle received the Laboratory's first "outstanding" rating from DOE, for fiscal year 2002 performance.

By the celebration of the 60th anniversary of ORNL on February 6-7, 2003, ORNL employees were looking forward to the completion of many new facilities that are expected to host outstanding world-class research and development work.

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