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Six ORNL scientists receive Distinguished Inventor honor

Six scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory were named Battelle Distinguished Inventors, in recognition of obtaining 14 or more patents during their careers at the lab.

The honorees join an elite group of inventors recognized by Battelle, the Columbus, Ohio, research firm that co-manages the lab through the UT-Battelle partnership. Since UT-Battelle began managing ORNL in 2000, 77 ORNL researchers have reached this milestone.

“We are extraordinarily proud of these scientists and ORNL’s legacy of ingenuity,” said Moe Khaleel, deputy for projects at the lab. “Their work directly contributes to the nation’s economic security, a critical part of our mission as a national laboratory.”

The new class of Distinguished Inventors include:

Claus Daniel, who manages ORNL’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy program and a portfolio of hydrogen, fuel cell, solar and wind projects. Daniel is a professor at the Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education at the University of Tennessee and is board president and co-founder of TennSMART, a public-private partnership focused on advancing intelligent mobility. His patents cover technologies related to materials science, applied energy systems, energy storage and carbon utilization. His work has been recognized with an R&D 100 Award and a Federal Laboratory Consortium, or FLC, award.

Sergei Kalinin, an ORNL corporate fellow at the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences and UT-ORNL Bredesen Center faculty member. Kalinin’s research is focused on applying machine learning and artificial intelligence in advanced microscopy for atomic fabrication and the discovery of new physics. His patents cover various aspects of scanning probe microscopy and ferroelectric materials applications. His work has been recognized with four R&D 100 Awards.

Vilmos Kertesz, a staff scientist in the Biosciences Division. Kertesz’s research is focused on mass spectrometry-based chemical profiling and imaging techniques for the chemical characterization of surfaces and single cells. His patents cover technologies related to the development of advanced chemical analysis tools. His work has been recognized with five R&D 100 Awards and two FLC awards.

Huimin Luo, a senior research scientist in the Manufacturing Science Division. Her research is focused on ionic liquids, organic synthesis, rare earth metals, fluorine chemistry and nuclear chemistry. Her patents cover technologies related to ionic liquid synthesis and applications, radioisotope separations, rare earth metal separations and ionic liquid-based lubricants. Her current work includes projects related to battery recycling, graphite synthesis in molten salts and melt-spinning of polyacrylonitrile carbon fiber. Her work has been recognized with an R&D 100 Award.

Thomas Potok, section head for Data and Artificial Intelligence Systems Research in the Computer Science and Mathematics Division. He holds a joint faculty appointment at Duke University and is co-founder of a joint venture startup commercializing his co-inventions with Knoxville-based Covenant Health. His patents cover technologies related to machine learning, deep learning, text analytics and neuromorphic computing. His work has been recognized with three R&D 100 Awards and an FLC award.

Xiao-Guang Sun, a senior research scientist at the Chemical Sciences Division. His current research focuses on developing novel salts and organic and polymeric materials for energy storage devices. His patents are related to electrolytes and additives that can be used to tailor ion transport and formation of beneficial surface layers to extend battery life. His work has been recognized with two R&D 100 awards.

The announcement of new Distinguished Inventors caps a week of recognizing the successful transfer of lab-created technologies to industry. An etched portrait of each new honoree will be added to a wall display of Distinguished Inventors at ORNL.

UT-Battelle manages ORNL for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. The Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit