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Call for User Proposals

Call for User Proposals

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Prior to the next scheduled proposal call, the CNMS will accept only Rapid Access proposals submitted via CNMS User Proposal System for limited access to conduct time-sensitive research. 

This is an example of our most recent Call for Proposals (Spring 2024)

CNMS User Proposal System 
Only proposals submitted using the online system will be accepted.

Deadline for submission
Wednesday, May 8, 2024
Successful applicants will be able to use CNMS facilities starting August 1, 2024

CNMS Online Proposal Submission Tips

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.

We are very pleased to announce that CNMS is once again "open for business" and allowing users back to work in all of our laboratories. While remote operations were necessary and impactful during the toughest times of the pandemic, it is just not the same as having our users back onsite to experience collaborative work and to perform hands-on experiments. We are still offering Remote User Sessions for users who are not able to travel yet or have very short-term experiments - you can discuss the various options with your CNMS Technical Contact.

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


Functional Atomic Force Microscopy — Understands complex interplay between fields and materials at the nanoscale using novel scanning probe imaging and spectroscopy techniques via combined development of state-of-the-art instrumentation, controls, and advanced analysis methods.

Materials MicroÅnalysis — Understands materials structure, chemistry, and function by application of analytical and in situ STEM-based methods, including cryo-EM and Atom Probe Microscopy (APT).

Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy (STEM) — Develops and advances new STEM- Scanning Electron Energy Loss Spectroscopy (EELS) techniques and push the spatial, temporal, and energy resolution limits for imaging and spectroscopy.

Scanning Tunneling Microscopy — Develops novel capabilities to enable unprecedented insight into electronic, magnetic, and transport properties in low-dimensional systems and understand fundamental behavior of quantum systems.


Functional Hybrid Nanomaterials — Conducts controlled synthesis of functional nanostructures and thin films by CVD and PLD using real-time diagnostics, e.g., 2D layered materials, hybrid organic/inorganic films, carbon nanostructures, oxide thin films, and heterostructures.

Macromolecular Nanomaterials — Performs precise synthesis of functional polymers with special emphasis on selective deuteration, small molecule synthesis, and ionic polymerization, as well as macromolecular characterization.

Nanofabrication Research Laboratory — Develops methods to fabricate nanostructures using best-in-class lithographic, etching, thin-film deposition, and characterization tools.


Data NanoAnalytics — Integrates edge computing and AI/ML methods into instrumentation and materials synthesis platforms to accelerate the pace of discovery.

Nanomaterials Theory Institute — Provides and advances capabilities for theory and high- performance simulation to enable fundamental understanding of physical and chemical properties of nanoscale materials and soft matter.

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. 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 8, 2024. 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, 2024 through July 31, 2025.

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. 

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 Director, Brad Lokitz.

Go to Instructions for Submitting a Proposal