Advanced Materials


Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences

The Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences (CNMS), one of five DOE-funded nanoscience research centers (NSRCs). CNMS has established itself as an internationally recognized resource for peer-reviewed access to equipment, capabilities and expertise in a range of nanoscience areas with emphasis in theory and simulation; nanofabrication; macromolecular synthesis and characterization; and characterization of structure, dynamics and functionality in nanostructured materials. Fields/techniques include scanning probe microscopy, neutron scattering, optical spectroscopy and soft-matter electron and helium ion microscopy. The CNMS currently hosts over 400 unique users per year, associated with successful proposals to the bi-annual proposal calls. Independent peer review, ranking and selection at an average success rate of ca.70% is conducted within eight weeks of the close of each call. The CNMS has a vibrant and evolving user community whose research addresses a vast gamut of science and technology questions funded by an equally broad array of funding agencies. User demographics include typically academia (>50%); national laboratories (~35%); international (~10%) and industry (~4%).

In concert with its joint mission to deliver both user support and an outstanding science program, the CNMS has built three distinguished research themes that draw together multi-skilled teams of scientists from within the center:

  • Electronic and Ionic Functionality on the Nanoscale seeks to understand behaviors of electronic and ionic materials at the scales of defects, nanostructures and microdevices.
  • Functional Polymer and Hybrid Architectures seeks to understand and control the multiscale organization of designed conformationally asymmetric macromolecular and hybrid nanomaterials, to achieve functionality capable of capturing, transporting, and transforming energy.
  • Collective Phenomena in Nanophases seeks to understand collective phenomena that arise from fluctuations, nanoscale confinement, and integration across length- and time-scales, and control these phenomenon to produce complex functionality.

Through its science program, the CNMS plays a unique role among the NSRCs by taking advantage of distinctive capabilities of other DOE user facilities available at ORNL, including high-performance computing (the Leadership Computing Facility and National Center for Computational Sciences) and neutron scattering (ORNL is home to the world’s most powerful spallation neutron source – SNS – and the highest-flux reactor-based neutron source – HFIR). Through its user program, it also plays a unique role in catalyzing dynamic interchange between science capabilities at ORNL and those in other national laboratories, the university sector and industry.

For more information contact: 

Sean C. Smith, Director, Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences
Oak Ridge National Laboratory; P.O. Box 2008, Oak Ridge, TN 37831-6496
Phone: 865-574-5081; Email:


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