Call for User Proposals

Call for User Proposals

Deadline for submission:  Wednesday, May 2, 2018
Successful applicants will be able to use CNMS facilities starting August 1, 2018

** It is important to use the latest version of the CNMS Proposal Form because the equipment offered is subject to change and only the latest form contains the up-to-date list.**

*DISCONTINUED: Access to Soft Matter TEM (Zeiss Libra 120 TEM) and Hitachi HF3300 high-resolution TEM-STEM are being discontinued in anticipation of delivery and installation of the *New* JEOL NEOARM TEM/STEM, which should be available to users in the fall proposal cycle (2019A).


The Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences (CNMS) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is soliciting proposals for user-initiated nanoscience research that will make effective use of CNMS facilities and staff expertise. The CNMS nanoscience research program provides users with access to a broad range of capabilities for nanomaterials design, synthesis, characterization, and theory/modeling/simulation and access is provided at no cost to users for research that is in the public domain and intended for publication in the open literature.

Scientifically high-impact proposals are sought that take advantage of any of the following CNMS research capabilities:  

Macromolecular Nanomaterials
Synthesis and molecular-level characterization of polymeric nanomaterials and polymer-modified interfaces, including systems based on pi-conjugated and biologically inspired polymers and copolymers; deuterated molecules and polymers for neutron scattering studies.

New characterization capabilities include:

  • Broadband dielectric/impedance spectroscopy: Dielectric and impedance characterization of a wide variety of soft and hard materials, including polymers, liquid crystals, colloids, ionic liquids, and ceramics, in a broad frequency and temperature range using the Novocontrol Concept 40 system.

  • Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization-Time of Flight Mass Spectrometry (MALDI-TOF-MS): Bruker MALDI-TOF Autoflex LRF instrument with imaging capabilities (5 micron spatial resolution) and capabilities for collisionally induced dissociation (CID) of any species. With its real on-axis detector design (in linear mode), the system is capable of detecting extremely large molecules > 500 kDa.

  • The Bruker LUMOS is a fully automated FTIR microscope that provides high quality visual and IR surface maps with high lateral resolution and an outstanding surface sensitivity.

  • Spectroscopic ellipsometry at liquid/solid interfaces through liquid ambient with temperature control from room temperature to 50°C.

Functional Hybrid Nanomaterials
Laser and CVD synthesis of carbon nanomaterials, oxide film heterostructures, graphene and other 2D materials, organic nanowires and heterostructures controlled by time-resolved, in situ diagnostics; processing of inorganic materials with optoelectronic polymers, hybrid perovskites, and small molecules into hybrid architectures for electronic devices and photocatalysis; optoelectronic characterization of nanomaterials and devices including tunable, ultrafast laser spectroscopy, low-frequency Raman spectroscopy, and multimodal environmental effects on optoelectronic properties.

Nanomaterials Theory Institute
Integrated support for experimental research; development of theoretical and computational nanoscience methods to address Grand Challenges of quantum correlations and transport in nanostructures, multi-scale modeling, nanomaterials design/discovery, active matter, materials response under strong electric fields, virtual synthesis and spectroscopy.

Scanning Probe Microscopy
Advanced scanning probe capabilities to study the effects of reduced and experimentally variable dimensionality; magnetism, transport, and ferroelectricity in nanostructured materials. New developments in contact Kelvin Probe Microscopy can distinguish ferroelectricity and ionic motion.

Chemical Imaging capabilities offered by CNMS include:

  • Optical Spectroscopy Imaging wherein local probes such as AFM are coupled to a variety of optical spectroscopy techniques for mapping
  • Electron Spectroscopy and Mass Spectrometry Imaging such as time-of-flight mass spectroscopy (SIMS) coupled to AFM or He-ion microscope

Nanofabrication Research Laboratory
10,000-ft2 cleanroom environment for nanoscale patterning, nanomaterials processing, and development of controlled synthesis and directed assembly methods; functional integration of soft and hard materials.

Bio-Inspired Nanomaterials
Full capabilities to manipulate and image hydrated biological samples; synthesis of vertically aligned carbon nanofiber arrays; integration of engineered nanomaterials with biological systems.

Electron & Atom Probe Microscopy
Atomic-level structural, chemical, and compositional characterization of materials coupled with dynamical observations in relevant environments (liquids, gases, etc.).
New!  The Nion Hermes monochromated aberration-corrected (MAC)-STEM is capable of achieving ~10 meV energy resolution EEL spectra while maintaining a sub-nm (< 2Å) electron probe size.  The microscope is equipped with the latest Nion C3/C5 corrector, which corrects (and allows individual control of) all aberrations up to C5,C6.  The microscope is also equipped with a high-speed 2k x 2k CMOS camera for Ptychography experiments.

Opportunity to request beamtime for Neutron Scattering
The CNMS is cooperating with ORNL's neutron scattering facilities to allow users to request neutron beamtime within a CNMS user proposal, provided that the main part of the proposed work would be carried out at CNMS. To request beamtime at one of ORNL’s neutron facilities, CNMS users should attach the 2-page Neutron Scattering appendix with their CNMS proposal submission. The beamtime request will be reviewed concurrently with the CNMS proposal review. CNMS access for any proposal will still be based entirely on the CNMS’s standard peer-review process. A CNMS user whose beamtime request is declined will be welcome to submit a standalone proposal directly to the neutron user program in their next proposal call.  Note that if the primary thrust of the proposal is to obtain access to neutron scattering, prospective users must submit the proposal directly to the neutron scattering user program.

The CNMS offers two types of sample design and synthesis capabilities specifically to enable forefront neutron scattering investigations:

  • Organic and polymer synthesis capabilities are available to prepare deuterated small molecules, monomers, and polymers.
  • Design and synthesis capabilities are available for multilayered oxide heterostructures grown with atomic-layer control to adequate thicknesses.

In addition, other synthetic capabilities within CNMS can create samples appropriate for neutron scattering experiments as designed by users.

Proposal Development
The CNMS website provides detailed descriptions of specific CNMS Research Capabilities that are offered to users, and this list of capabilities is duplicated in checklist form on the downloadable CNMS User Proposal Form. Prospective users are invited and strongly encouraged to contact CNMS staff members in the respective research areas to discuss their proposal ideas and learn more about the specific capabilities of interest to them.

The deadline for submission of user research proposals is May 2, 2018. Please review the Guidelines for Submission of a CNMS User Research Proposal (below) and the Instructions for Submitting a Proposal. Approved projects will be granted access to CNMS facilities during the period August 1, 2018 through July 31, 2019.

The CNMS is a highly collaborative national user research facility dedicated to the synthesis, characterization, theory/modeling/simulation, and design of nanoscale materials, and their integration into functional systems. The CNMS cannot provide direct research funding to users. Faculty at an ORAU member institution may qualify for an ORAU Travel Grant.

Guidelines for Submission of a CNMS User Research Proposal

  1. Content: Each user proposal must describe clearly and specifically which part of the work is to be done using CNMS facilities: What CNMS tools and expertise will be needed to carry out which steps and on what timeline? Each user proposal must also clearly define the expected outcomes from the CNMS component: What are the targets or milestones that the CNMS contribution must meet in order for the overall research project to succeed? Please keep in mind that you are proposing a specific user project; describe the overall research program only so far as is necessary to establish the context and impact of the user proposal.
    See Tips for Writing a Competitive User Proposal.
    NOTE: User proposals must not contain any proprietary or sensitive information.
  2. Proposals that require capabilities from more than one area are encouraged, as are requests for theory/modeling/simulation support for experimental projects.
  3. Proposals will be reviewed by selected members of the CNMS Proposal Review Committee using evaluation criteria adopted by the IUPAP in its recommendations on the operation of user facilities. Please see the Review Criteria for CNMS Research Proposals.
  4. Prospective users are encouraged to contact one of the staff members listed for each set of related research capabilities to discuss the suitability of any particular CNMS capability for the proposed research. General questions about the proposal process can be directed to the CNMS User Program Coordinator, Brad Lokitz.

Go to Instructions for Submitting a Proposal