Basic Energy Sciences

The Basic Energy Sciences (BES) program supports basic scientific research to lay the foundations for new energy technologies and to advance DOE missions in energy, environment, and national security. BES research emphasizes discovery, design, and understanding of new materials and new chemical, biochemical, and geological processes. The ultimate goal is to better understand the physical world and harness nature to benefit people and society.

Major technological innovations don’t just happen. They typically have their roots in basic research breakthroughs over a period of decades. The BES program supports basic research behind a broad range of energy technologies, spanning energy generation, conversion, transmission, storage, and use. Many major innovations can be traced back to basic research supported by BES over the past 40 years. These include, for example, LED lighting; efficient solar cells; better batteries; stronger, lighter materials for transportation, nuclear power plants, and national defense; and improved production processes for high-value chemicals.

The BES program is one of the nation’s largest sponsors of research in the physical sciences. The program funds basic science at nearly 170 universities, national laboratories, and other research institutions in the U.S.  BES has also built and supports a national network of major shared research facilities based at DOE national laboratories and open to all scientists. These user facilities help form the backbone of the nation’s research infrastructure. Over 16,000 scientists and engineers make use of these facilities each year.

Learn more about the Basic Energy Sciences mission and operations here.

BES By the Numbers, FY 2019

BES Subprograms

Courtesy Shawn M. Kathmann, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Chemical Sciences, Geosciences, and Biosciences (CSGB)

The Chemical Sciences, Geosciences, and Biosciences Division supports basic research on chemical transformations and energy flow. This research provides the groundwork for the development of new and improved processes for the generation, storage, conversion, and use of energy as well as for other applications.

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Materials Sciences and Engineering (MSE)

Materials Sciences and Engineering (MSE)

The Materials Sciences and Engineering Division supports basic research for the discovery and design of new materials with novel properties and functions. This research creates a foundation for the development of new and improved materials for the generation, storage, conversion, and use of energy as well as for other applications.

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Scientific User Facilities (SUF)

Scientific User Facilities (SUF)

The Scientific User Facilities Division supports R&D, planning, construction, and operation of a nationwide suite of major scientific facilities. These user facilities include large x-ray light sources, neutron scattering centers, and research centers for nanoscale science. They provide state-of-the-art instrumentation to create and measure materials and chemical systems. Tens of thousands of scientists from universities, industry, and government laboratories use them each year.

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Reprinted with permission from Baginska, M., et al. 2012. “Autonomic Shutdown of Lithium-Ion Batteries Using Thermoresponsive Microspheres,” Advanced Energy Materials 2(5), 583–90. Copyright 2012 John Wiley and Sons.

Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs)

The Energy Frontier Research Centers bring together teams of scientists to perform basic research with a scope and complexity beyond what is possible for individuals or small groups. These centers foster transformative scientific advances to uncover innovative solutions to difficult problems in the energy sciences..

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Courtesy Kalia, Nakano, Vashishta, and Shimojo, University of Southern California, at the ANL IBM Blue Gene Q supercomputer with 786,432 processors.

Computational Materials and Chemical Sciences (CMS,CCS)

Computational Materials and Chemical Sciences supports teams of researchers performing basic research to develop software and databases for design of new materials and chemical processes. This research takes advantage of DOE’s current supercomputers and develops software for next-generation exascale computing systems.

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Energy Innovation Hubs

Energy Innovation Hubs

The Energy Innovation Hubs mobilize large research teams to overcome major scientific barriers to development of transformative new energy technologies. The two Hubs supported by BES focus on grand challenges in energy: (1) Fuels from Sunlight and (2) Next Generation Batteries and Energy Storage.

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BES Science Highlights

A Sharp New Eye to View Atoms and Molecules
January 19, 2021
A newly designed X-ray oscillator may enable atomic level precision with intense X-ray pulses.
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Dynamic Duos: How Particles Attach
January 15, 2021
A new quantitative understanding of how, at what distance, and in what shape zinc oxide nanoparticles come together while separated by liquid.
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Machine Learning Trims Tuning Time for Electron Beam by 65 Percent
December 23, 2020
Scientists use a machine learning algorithm to reduce tuning time of a dozen instruments at once.
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Tiny Tunable Terahertz Lasers Ready to Fly in Space
December 23, 2020
A novel terahertz laser achieves the performance goals critical for new applications in sensing and imaging.
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New X-Ray Camera Achieves New Heights of Precision and Accuracy for Better Experiments
December 23, 2020
An X-ray image taken with a novel X-ray wavefront imager results in high precision measurements of intensity and direction of the X-ray beam.
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New Study Evaluates Role of Carbenes on the Formation of Soot
December 15, 2020
Research uses directed gas phase preparation of two carbenes, triplet pentadiynylidene and singlet ethynylcyclopropenylidene.
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A Swift Kick to Initiate Electronic Motion in Molecules
December 4, 2020
Observation of impulsive stimulated X-ray Raman scattering with attosecond soft X-ray pulses.
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Defects Slow the Electron’s Dance
December 4, 2020
Advanced techniques reveal how defects in nanoscale crystals affect how solar photovoltaics perform.
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Laser-Driven “Chirp” Powers High-Resolution Materials Imaging
November 30, 2020
Harnessing the intensity of a terahertz laser pulse brings the resolution of electron scattering closer to the scale of electron and proton motion.
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Decorating Semiconductors at the Atomic Scale
November 30, 2020
Crystals grown from layers of atoms arrange themselves on semiconductor surfaces to add new capabilities.
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BES Program News

Department of Energy to Provide $75 Million for Chemical and Materials Research in Quantum Information Science
DOE announced plans to provide $75 million for research in chemical and materials sciences aimed at advancing the important emerging field of QIS.
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Department of Energy to Provide $32 Million for Advanced Computational Research in the Sciences
Awards Will Team Physical Scientists with Experts in Advanced Computing
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Department of Energy to Provide $32 Million to Develop Advanced Chemical Sciences Software
Today, DOE announced plans to provide up to $32 million for research to advance the development of sophisticated software for the chemical sciences.
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Department of Energy to Provide $24 Million in EPSCoR Grants for Energy-Related Research
DOE announced a funding opportunity for up to $24 million for new and renewal grants under the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research.
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DOE Awards $20 Million for Research on Rare Earth Elements
Today, the U.S. Department of Energy announced $20 million for basic research aimed at ensuring a stable U.S. supply of rare earth elements.
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Department of Energy Awards $13.5 Million for Direct Air Capture Research
Funding for three national laboratory-led research efforts to capture carbon dioxide directly from ambient air.
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Department of Energy Announces $100 Million for Artificial Photosynthesis Research
Two Major Partnerships Involve Universities and DOE Laboratories
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Department of Energy to Provide $18 Million for Research on Critical Materials
Today, DOE announced plans to provide up to $18 million for basic research aimed at helping to ensure the availability of rare earth elements
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Department of Energy to Provide $22 Million for Research on Capturing Carbon Dioxide from Air
Projects Will Range from Basic Research through Testing of Prototypes
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Ten Years at the Frontiers of Energy Science
Celebrating 10 years of science at Energy Frontier Research Centers across America.
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Contact Information

Basic Energy Sciences
U.S. Department of Energy
SC-22/Germantown Building
1000 Independence Avenue., SW
Washington, DC 20585
P: (301) 903 - 3081
F: (301) 903 - 6594
E: Email Us