Oak Ridge National Laboratory


News Release

Media Contact: Media Relations (news@ornl.gov)
Communications and External Relations


New joint institute pools resources of ORNL, UT

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Nov. 15, 1995 — Researchers at the Department of Energy's (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the University of Tennessee are uniting to form the Joint Institute for Molecular-Based Engineering and Science (JIMBES).

The institute will serve as a focal point for government, industry and academic research and development based on new molecular-level approaches.

Molecular-level computational techniques and neutron and X-ray scattering techniques developed by ORNL and UT allow researchers to apply physical and biological sciences in the development of new products and processes. Their novel approach utilizes ORNL's powerful Intel Paragon supercomputer and the Small Angle Neutron Scattering facility.

With the Paragon, researchers can perform molecular simulations of complex systems important to engineering and science but previously beyond the reach of computation. The neutron scattering facility enables researchers to perform molecule-level experiments that complement their calculations.

The joint institute brings together chemical engineers, chemists, physicists, biologists and computer scientists to use these techniques to tackle the most demanding problems at the forefront of basic research and industrial practice. It also takes advantage of the special facilities and full-time staff of ORNL with the open research environment and distinguished faculty and staff of UT.

"The establishment of the Joint Institute for Molecular-Based Engineering and Science will enable the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to leverage their complementary research capabilities, facilities and funding opportunities to enable them to undertake projects that otherwise would not be feasible," said Peter T. Cummings, distinguished professor of Chemical Engineering at UT and a distinguished scientist in ORNL's Chemical Technology Division.

Researchers plan to study various properties of materials - naturally occurring and synthetic - at a level of detail and sophistication previously unimaginable. This information could ultimately help U.S. industry test and develop new materials more quickly and efficiently.

"The joint institute clears a path for ORNL and UT to be in the forefront of the anticipated revolution in engineering and science these computational and scattering capabilities will bring about," said Hank D. Cochran of ORNL's Chemical Technology Division.

A one-day symposium Oct. 9 in Oak Ridge served as a prelude to the establishment of JIMBES. The symposium featured Cummings and Cochran, who described their new molecular-based approach to performing engineering and science.

Other notable participants in the symposium included Dr. Ken Dill of the University of California (San Francisco); Dr. Paul Mathias of Air Products and Chemicals, Allentown, Pa.; and a number of distinguished speakers from Oak Ridge and UT. Dill, a professor in the University of California's Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, is one of the world's foremost experts in molecular simulation modeling of protein folding. Mathias is a leading industrial proponent of this modern molecular-based approach.

ORNL, one of DOE's multiprogram national research and development facilities, is managed by Lockheed Martin Energy Systems, which also manages the Oak Ridge K-25 Site and the Oak Ridge Y-12 Plant.

For more information about JIMBES, call Cochran (865) 574-6821, Cummings (865) 974-0227, or check out the page on the World Wide Web at http://flory.engr.utk.edu/ldrd/w.html.