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Advanced Materials

Where Discovery Meets Application

ORNL is home to the nation’s most comprehensive materials research program and is a world leader in research that supports the development of advanced materials for energy generation, storage, and use. We have core strengths in three main areas: materials synthesis, characterization, and theory. In other words, we discover and make new materials; we study their structure, dynamics and functionality; and we use computation to understand and predict how they will behave in various applications.

From its beginnings in World War II’s Manhattan Project, ORNL has had a distinctive materials science program. Today, materials science research benefits from ORNL’s integration of basic and applied research programs and strong ties among computational science, chemical science, nuclear science and technology, neutron science, engineering, and national security. This broad approach to research is allowing ORNL to develop a variety of new materials for energy applications and transfer these new materials to industry.  ORNL researchers are improving analytical tools used to characterize the structure and function of advanced materials, including electron microscopy, scanning probes, chemical imaging, and a variety of neutron scattering capabilities.  These advances have resulted in a broad portfolio of ORNL materials and technologies in the nuclear, automotive, and structural materials industry.

Complementing our experimental research is one of the nation’s largest collections of materials theorists who take full advantage of ORNL’s leadership computational facilities to understand and design new materials, as well as processes that occur at materials interfaces.   The Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, a DOE Office of Science nanoscience research center, combines a vibrant research effort to understand and control the complexity of electronic, ionic, and molecular behavior at the nanoscale with a multi-disciplinary user environment. The building provides state-of-the-art clean rooms, general laboratories, wet and dry laboratories for sample preparation, fabrication, and analysis.

Together, our research capabilities in materials synthesis, characterization, and theory contribute to our leadership in basic and applied materials science that ultimately will lead to new technologies for meeting tomorrow’s energy needs.