About the Office of Science

The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science mission is to deliver the scientific discoveries and major scientific tools that transform our understanding of nature and advance the energy, economic, and national security of the United States. The Office of Science is the Nation’s largest Federal sponsor of basic research in the physical sciences and the lead Federal agency supporting fundamental scientific research for energy.

The Office of Science accomplishes its mission and advances national goals by supporting:

  • The frontiers of science - discovering nature’s mysteries from the study of subatomic particles, atoms, and molecules that are the building blocks of the materials of our everyday world to the DNA, proteins, and cells that are the building blocks of entire biological systems; each of the programs in the Office of Science supports research to probe the most fundamental questions of its disciplines.
  • The 21st Century tools of science - providing the Nation’s researchers with over 30 state-of-the-art national scientific user facilities, the most advanced tools of modern science, enabling the U.S. to remain at the forefront of science, technology, and innovation.
  • Science for energy and the environment - advancing a clean energy agenda through fundamental research on energy production, conversion, storage, transmission, and use and through advancing our understanding of the earth and its climate; targeted investments include the three DOE Bioenergy Research Centers (BRCs), the Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs), two Energy Innovation Hubs, and atmospheric process and climate modeling research.

The Office of Science has long been a leader of U.S. scientific discovery and innovation. Over the decades, Office of Science investments have played a central role in modern biotechnology revolution and have helped the transition from observing natural phenomena to the science of control and directed design at the nanoscale. We have pushed the frontiers of our understanding of the origins of matter and the universe, we have led the world in high performance computing and simulation, and we have built and operated the large-scale scientific facilities that collectively form a major pillar of the current U.S. scientific enterprise. These investments and accomplishments have led to new technologies and created new businesses and industries, making significant contributions to our Nation’s economy and quality of life.

The Office of Science manages this research portfolio through six interdisciplinary program offices:

Each of the programs in the Office of Science supports research to probe the most fundamental questions of its disciplines.

In chemistry, material sciences, and biology, the questions probe the world we live in, encompassing both non-living and the living things:

  • How do the remarkable properties of materials, such as catalysts, emerge from the atomic and electronic constituents and how can we control those properties?
  • How can we master the nanoscale in order to create new materials with capabilities rivaling those of living things?
  • How do materials behave under extreme temperature, pressure, or electromagnetic conditions?
  • How can we achieve a systems-level understanding of a microbe or community of microbes to ultimately model and predict characteristics from genetic and environmental interactions?

In high energy and nuclear physics, the questions probe the subatomic world and origins of the universe:

  • What lies beyond the Standard Model?
  • What are dark energy and dark matter?
  • What is the nature of neutrinos?
  • What is the nature of neutron stars and dense nuclear matter?
  • What governs the behavior of quarks and gluons?

In plasma and fusion science, the questions probe the 4th state of matter and its control:

  • What governs the behavior of self-heated plasmas?
  • Can we reduce and control turbulence in plasmas?
  • How do plasmas interact with other forms of matter and with light?
  • How do the distinct properties of high energy density systems alter hydrodynamic behavior?

Supporting all of these research areas are advances in the numerical methods, mathematical analysis techniques, algorithms, and innovative code development that make possible the scientific discovery through computation and simulation using the world’s fastest computers.

In addition, the Office of Science sponsors a range of workforce development programs for undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty, including the DOE Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) Program, through its Office of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists.