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 2018

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.

Learn More

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.

Learn More

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.

Learn More

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..

Learn More

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.

Learn More

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.

Learn More

BES Science Highlights

Getting an Up-Close, 3-D View of Gold Nanostars
September 6, 2018
Gold nanostars are a class of plasmonic nanomaterials that show promise in surface-enhanced Raman scattering-based applications and hot electron
Learn More
Scaling Up Single-Crystal Graphene
September 5, 2018
A research team used chemical vapor deposition—with a twist—to localize control of the synthesis process and allow evolutionary, or
Learn More
New Electron Glasses Sharpen Our View of Atomic-Scale Features
September 5, 2018
As electronic devices shrink, more precise semiconductor synthesis and characterization are needed to improve these devices. APT can identify atom
Learn More
Tuning Terahertz Beams with Nanoparticles
September 5, 2018
The terahertz spectral window (100 gigahertz to 10 terahertz) is attracting attention for its potential use in submillimeter-wave communication and
Learn More
Carbon Nanotubes Give Two Excitons for the Price of One
September 5, 2018
Tuning the electronic properties of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs), a process known as doping, is emerging as an effective means for
Learn More
Protactinium and Its Periodic Intersection
August 27, 2018
Researchers investigated the chemistry of protactinium to understand the impact of having the most energetic electrons in orbitals derived from
Learn More
Riding the Wave of Liquid:Liquid Interfaces
August 27, 2018
Decades of research have empirically shown optimal conditions for a variety of separations applications, making use of specific combinations of
Learn More
Locating the Production Site of Glucan in Grass Cell Walls
August 22, 2018
Mixed-linkage glucan (MLG), a (1,3;1,4)-β-linked glucose polymer, is important for the structural integrity of the plant and a source of
Learn More
Reducing Friction with an Onion-Like Carbon Material
August 21, 2018
In 2015, a multidisciplinary team from Argonne National Laboratory created a material consisting of graphene, nanodiamond particles, and diamond
Learn More
Sugar-Coated Sheets Selectively Target Pathogens
July 18, 2018
In nature, multivalency, or the ability to bind to multiple sites at once, is important for selective binding and plays a significant role in a
Learn More

BES Program News

Ten Years at the Frontiers of Energy Science
Celebrating 10 years of science at Energy Frontier Research Centers across America.
Learn More
UCI Scientists Create New Class of Two-dimensional Materials
Fabrication could help unlock new quantum computing and energy technologies.
Learn More
A Quick Liquid Flip Helps Explain How Morphing Materials Store Information
Experiments at SLAC collected more than 10,000 snapshots of phase-change materials transforming from a glassy to a crystalline state in real time.
Learn More
Penn Engineers Demonstrate Superstrong, Reversible Adhesive That Works Like Snail Slime
In a new study, Penn Engineers demonstrate a strong, reversible adhesive that uses the same mechanisms that snails do.
Learn More
Researchers Develop Superconducting Quantum Refrigerator
Physicist Andrew Jordan from the University of Rochester and his fellow researchers have conceived an idea for a superconducting quantum refrigerator.
Learn More
Energy Department to Invest $32 Million in Computer Design of Materials
Researchers to take advantage of DOE’s advanced supercomputers.
Learn More
New Research Facility Will Serve ORNL's Growing Mission in Computing, Materials R&D
Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Congressman Chuck Fleischmann and lab officials today broke ground on a multipurpose research facility that will provide state-of-the-art laboratory space for expanding scientific activities at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The new Translational Research Capability, or TRC, will be purpose-built for world-leading research in computing and materials science and will serve to advance the science and engineering of quantum information.
Learn More
Neutrons Investigate Tomatoes for Insights Into Interplant Chatter
Professors Kathryn and Jonathan Morris from Xavier University are using neutron scattering at the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to observe firsthand how these info-chemicals travel along tiny, pipe-like networks called fungal hyphae. Whether the messages move passively along the outside of those fungal networks or the fungi deliberately locate and absorb info-chemicals for transportation remains unclear.
Learn More

 

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