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Laboratory Directed Research & Development

Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) supports cutting-edge research across ORNL. Its objective is to maintain the vitality of the Laboratory, enhance the Laboratory’s ability to address future DOE missions, and stimulate exploration at the forefront of science and technology. The program has three major components: the Director’s R&D Fund, which develops new capabilities in support of the Laboratory’s research initiatives, the Seed Money Fund, which is open to all innovative ideas that have the potential for enhancing the Laboratory’s core scientific and technical disciplines, and the Named Fellowships, open to outstanding doctorate-level candidate scientists and engineers to achieve experience in areas of science and technology of national importance. LDRD projects are led by ORNL research staff members and often involve collaborations with university researchers.

ORNL LDRD Recent Success Stories

iSPM: Intelligent Software for Personalized Modeling of Expert Opinions, Decisions and Errors in Visual Examination Tasks was developed by Georgia Tourassi, Songhua Xu, Hong-Jun Yoon and Sophie Voisin of the Computational Sciences and Engineering Division at ORNL. (2014)  By combining innovative visual diagrams and pioneering analytic rule sets, iSPM helps analysts perform visual tasks such as making medical diagnoses. The software uses eye-tracking hardware, user-interaction and advanced analysis to predict a person’s perceptual behavior, cognitive response and risk of error for complex decision tasks. This technology could improve patients’ health outcomes and lower medical errors, while providers could pay lower malpractice costs. In addition, the software can be used in fields such as education and homeland security where experts also perform risk-sensitive visual tasks.  Funding for the research was provided by ORNL’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development Program.



Super-hydro-tunable HiPAS Membranes were developed by ORNL (2014). Inventors were Michael Hu, Matthew Sturgeon, Ramesh Bhave, Brian Bischoff, Tolga Aytug and Tim Theiss.  This new class of membrane products can selectively separate molecules in the vapor/gas phase and perform liquid-phase separations, which could be especially useful in reducing the price of bio-ethanol, ethanol-gasoline blend fuels and drop-in fuels from bio-oil processing. The membrane acts as an energy-efficient alternative to the distillation process by using a superhydrophobic or superhydrophillic surface to separate molecules. The membrane’s larger pore sizes and architecture advantages drive never-before-achieved flow rates across membranes, sustaining characteristics key to repetitive or continuous operation under high pressures and temperatures. In addition to its potential in biofuel-based economies, these membranes could have a broad impact in chemical, pharmaceutical, petrochemical and gas separation industries.  This project was supported by ORNL’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development Program and by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Bioenergy Technologies Office.



V-shaped External Cavity Laser Diode Array, developed by ORNL’s Bo Liu, Yun Liu and Yehuda Braiman (2013).  By using a V-shaped external Talbot cavity and strategically placed micro-prism mirrors, ORNL researchers have created an efficient method to extract a high-quality laser beam from a broad-area laser array. The V-shaped external cavity laser diode array provides a coherent light source with impressive beam quality, narrow spectral bandwidth, high power, low cost and scalability to larger arrays. The result is a laser source with high brightness and wavelength tunability that has applications in spectroscopy, laser radar, material surface processing and optical communications, sensing and metrology.  This research was funded by the Office of Naval Research, Laboratory Directed Research and Development funding from ORNL, DOE’s Office of Basic Energy Sciences, and the National Science Foundation.



Additional LDRD Success Stories

RCSim (Radio Channel Simulator) Software (2012).

Low-Cost, Lightweight Robotic Hand Based on Additive Manufacturing (2012).

Broadband Micromechanical Antenna (2012).

Self-assembled, Ferromagnetic-Insulator Nanocomposites for Ultrahigh-Density Data Storage (2011).

Telemedical Retinal Image Analysis and Diagnosis (2010).

Liquid Microjunction Surface Sampling Probe for Mass Spectrometry (2010).

Sulfur-Carbon Nanocomposite Cathode Material and Additives for Lithium-Sulfur Batteries (2010).

Ultrasensitive Nanomechanical Transducers Based on Nonlinear Resonance (2010).

High-Performance, High-Tc Superconducting Wires Enabled via Self-assembly of Non-superconducting Columnar Defects (2010).

Thermomagnetic processing technology (2009).

Please contact the LDRD Manager at if you have questions regarding the ORNL LDRD Program.

Links of Interest:

DOE Order for LDRD

DOE LDRD Annual Reports


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