Our goal is to serve the nation as the world’s premier research institution, empowering leaders and teams to pursue breakthroughs in an environment marked by operational excellence and engagement with the communities where we live and work.
Leaders in Science and Innovation
- We pioneered nuclear energy, science, and engineering, developing techniques, technologies, and training programs that led to commercialization of nuclear power and creation of the nuclear navy.
- We produce life-saving medical isotopes and operate the National Isotope Development Center for the Department of Energy (DOE).
- We developed neutron diffraction, a scientific technique available to researchers who use two of the world’s most powerful neutron sources at ORNL for studies of materials, medicines, disease progression, and more.
- We create new materials including alloys with billion-dollar impacts on industry and unique properties that enable NASA to explore outer space.
- We build some of the world’s most powerful supercomputers, with three No. 1 systems since 2009 and one of the world’s first exascale systems, Frontier, due in 2021.
- We printed a car (and a house, jeep, boat … ) to study methods for improving the efficiency and productivity of manufacturing processes that give American industry a competitive edge.
- We secure the nation with expertise from across our research portfolio, sending teams worldwide to keep nuclear materials safe, pursuing cybersecurity for the power grid, and more.
- We discovered the sex-determining role of the Y chromosome and make breakthroughs in biology from genes to ecosystems, providing insights benefiting biotechnology, biosecurity, and biofuels.
We always ask, “What’s next?” We stand ready for the unexpected. Today, we are applying our expertise in several areas in the global fight against COVID-19, and we are looking to the future.
Building the World's Premier Research Institution
National labs are distinguished by their ability to assemble large teams of experts from a variety of scientific and technical disciplines to tackle compelling national problems. They also design, build, and operate powerful scientific facilities that are available to the international research community. From the start, ORNL has applied scientific discoveries and new technologies to address pressing challenges in the areas of clean energy and global security and to create economic opportunity for the nation. Today, Oak Ridge is the most diverse of the Department of Energy’s 17 national laboratories, providing leadership in energy research and technology, advanced materials, nuclear science and engineering, neutron science, isotope production, national security, environmental and biological sciences, and high-performance computing. Resources like these enable the U.S. to compete in what former ORNL Director Alvin Weinberg called the arena of “Big Science” and they empower our researchers to pursue knowledge that’s fundamental to solving some of our world’s greatest challenges.
Fusion and Fission
A multidisciplinary team is printing a microreactor to help industry address high costs and lengthy deployment timelines that threaten the future of nuclear energy—the nation’s largest carbon-free energy source.
The Mobile Uranium Facility equips ORNL staff members to characterize, process, package, and transport uranium materials anywhere in the world. We are using our scientific capabilities to counter enduring and emerging threats to national security
Our scientists are cracking the code on opioid addiction using Summit, one of the world’s fastest supercomputers, to perform immense calculations on genomic data. Summit provides unique multi-precision computing capabilities that are ideal for artificial intelligence and machine learning applications.