...in the 21st century
A decade ago, in an address to the 2002 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Presidential science advisor Jack Marburger declared that we were in the early stages of a revolution in science: "one in which the notion that everything is made of atoms finally becomes operational." According to Dr. Marburger, this revolution resulted from two developments: advances in instrumentation and the availability of powerful computing and information technology.
At Oak Ridge National Laboratory, we are at the forefront of this continuing revolution. The Department of Energy's investments in facilities and tools for nanoscale research—in particular, the Spallation Neutron Source, the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, and the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences—provide us with remarkable opportunities for understanding, probing, and manipulating matter at the atomic and molecular level, where the fundamental properties of materials and systems are established and traditional boundaries between the scientific disciplines of physics, chemistry, and biology are blurred.
We take advantage of these resources by leveraging one of our distinctive characteristics as a national laboratory: the ability to focus multidisciplinary teams of scientists and engineers on large and complex challenges. This strategy is especially valuable at the CNMS, which is a critical ORNL asset for exploring nanoscale materials and phenomena. Teams working at the CNMS—many including university and industry partners—are developing a new understanding of the functionality and properties of nanoscale materials, systems, and architectures, with positive impacts for energy-related research, a primary focus for DOE, and for such areas as carbon sequestration, biomedicine, and quantum computing.
This issue of the ORNL Review highlights nanoscience research projects from areas across the laboratory's science and technology agenda, illustrating benefits of our multidisciplinary, multi-institutional approach. Already we can lay claim to a number of high-profile scientific publications, R&D 100 awards, and patents.
Our continuing role in the nanoscale revolution will build on another of our distinctive strengths: the translation of science to innovation. Our tradition of coupling basic to applied research and partnering with industry to license discoveries for commercial products provides a solid foundation for realizing the promise of nanoscale science, engineering, and technology.
Deputy Director for Science and Technology
Oak Ridge National Laboratory