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The Grand Canyon State is a hive of entrepreneurial activity. Arizona’s economic drivers and ORNL’s research areas overlap in several key industries: aerospace and defense, technology and innovation, and advanced manufacturing. ORNL partners with several of the state’s top universities on projects related to climate change, quantum networking, and pharmaceutical research.

Value of contracts awarded $1.6M
28% Percentage to small businesses
32% Percentage to educational institutions
Publications authored with Arizona institutions 617
Organizations that sponsored research with ORNL 1
ORNL User Facilities Users in Arizona
Building Technologies Research and Integration Center 1
Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences 5
Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility 8
Spallation Neutron Source 1

ORNL’s user facilities offer a diverse set of tools for experiments across a range of fields, including biology, materials and energy sciences, physics, engineering, and chemistry. Learn more about ORNL’s user facilities. Data reflects fiscal year 2020 except for scientific publications, which covers 2016–2020. Partner stories reflect work conducted from 2016 to present.


Northern Arizona University works with ORNL on the Spruce and Peatland Responses under Changing Environments, or SPRUCE, experiment to gather and analyze data from a Minnesota forested bog on how warming and elevated carbon dioxide levels affect carbon-rich peatlands in northern latitudes. Located in the USDA Forest Service’s Marcell Experimental Forest about 25 miles north of Grand Rapids, SPRUCE has 10 specially designed enclosures set at five different temperatures and two elevated levels of carbon dioxide. Scientists from across the nation and world use SPRUCE to study the effects of hotter temperatures on peatlands to better understand the future effects of climate change. Peatlands cover around 3% of Earth’s landmass and store at least a third of its soil carbon—more carbon than all of the world’s forests.


Northern Arizona University collects, interprets, and archives automated daytime images from the SPRUCE experimental plots. These images capture vegetation responses to warming, including measurements of greenness. These data are important in tracking seasonal changes in plants that can advance understanding of how the plants are changing under different amounts of warming.


Learn more about environmental science at ORNL.

Listen to ORNL’s Sound of Science podcast episode “Welcome to a Warmer Future.”


ORNL is partnering with the University of Arizona on two projects that support quantum networks. Quantum networks will be used to enhance sensors, boost computing power, and reinforce secure communication networks.


The first project focuses on entanglement. When two particles of light come together, or become entangled, they connect in a way that could change the way information is relayed.


The second project focuses on quantum repeaters, which are needed to build a national-scale quantum internet. Testing will take place on ORNL’s own quantum local area network, which connects multiple laboratories in four buildings in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.


Learn more about computer science at ORNL.

Listen to ORNL’s Sound of Science podcast episode “Quantum Science: Exploring Subatomic Weirdness”.


A team of researchers from Arizona State University have used Summit, the nation’s fastest supercomputer, located at ORNL, to take a closer look at protein structures in a deadly, highly contagious bacterium that causes tularemia, also known as rabbit fever. The bacterium could present a serious bioterrorism threat given that it can be spread through the air. Supercomputer simulations such as the ones used in this research help scientists better understand how to develop vaccines and treatments.


Learn more about computer science at ORNL.


Honeywell and NASA researchers used ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source to study a form of nickel commonly used to develop turbine blades and other objects used in transportation and aerospace. These experiments give scientists a better understanding of how to strengthen this material against various stresses that typically arise during manufacturing and from exposure to long-term operations.


Learn more about neutron science at ORNL.

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