UT, ORNL Researchers Make Breakthrough in Understanding Atomic-Scale Nature of Disordered Materials

Three nuclear engineering researchers—Associate Professor Maik Lang; Postdoctoral Researcher Eric O’Quinn; and Graduate Research Assistant Devon Drey—along with Materials Science and Engineering Professor Kurt Sickafus, made a scientific breakthrough on the understanding of the atomic arrangement of disordered ceramics. Other researchers on the team included Rodney Ewing of Stanford University, Gianguido Baldinozzi of the University of Paris-Saclay, and Antonio Fuentes of the University of Saltillo, Mexico.

Such ceramics are found in a wide variety of energy technologies, including nuclear fuels, complex electronics, and solid oxide fuel cells. The research article entitled “Predicting Short-Range Order and Correlated Phenomena in Disordered Crystalline Materials,” was published in Science Advances and is largely the result of O’Quinn’s (NE ’19) graduate research. The work was supported as part of the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences.

Prior to their finding, it was thought that only the atomic arrangement of ordered materials could be predicted using Pauling’s Rules, a set of chemical principles originally published in 1929 by Linus Pauling. The rules describe how far apart ions should be and how many neighboring ions they should have and are based on simple geometric and mathematical concepts.

Read the full article at ne.utk.edu.

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