Tomonori Saito

Tomonori Saito

Distinguished R&D Staff

Dr. Tomonori Saito is a synthetic polymer chemist, who has extensive experience in the synthesis of well-defined polymers via living/controlled polymerization as well as post-modification of various polymers. His expertise has been applied to various projects at ORNL including polymer upcycling, vitrimers, flow battery, fuel cell membranes, ion-conducting polymers for batteries and battery binders, CO2 separation membranes, polymer nanocomposites, additive manufacturing, polymer nanoparticles, elastomers, self-healing materials, thermal insulation materials, gas pipeline renewal, uranium extraction from seawater, carbon fiber composites, polyolefin-based carbon fibers, lignin based-carbon fibers, and lignin-based renewable thermoplastics. He has published more than 130 peer-reviewed articles (h-index 51), 14 patents issued (several were licensed.), won R&D 100 in 2012, 2016, 2019, 2021 as well as received the inventor of the year by Battelle in 2023.

His strength in research relies on the use of his skills in synthetic polymer chemistry to impact material sciences, energy, and chemical & environmental engineering applications. His polymer synthesis experience includes synthesis of block, graft, random copolymers with functional groups using living anionic polymerization, ATRP, RAFT, ROMP, conventional free radical polymerization, step-growth polymerization, and post-functionalization chemistry. His engineering expertise includes design, process and characterization of polymeric materials using various techniques for applications such as 3D printing, thermal insulation materials, renewable/upcycled plastics, carbon fibers, composites, gas pipe rehabilitation, CO2 separation membranes, fuel cell, flow battery, self-healing materials, elastomers, metal adsorbents, ion-conducting polymers for energy storage, etc.. 

  • Polymer Upcycling 
  • Polymer Composites
  • SMART Gas Pipe Rehabilitation
  • Self-healing and Dynamic Polymers (Vitrimers)
  • Additive Manufacturing (Binger Jet 3D Printing, FDM, DIW)
  • Polymer Electrolytes
  • Energy Storage (Li-ion Battery, Flow Battery, Fuel Cell)
  • Gas Separation Membrane
  • Building Materials (Thermal Insulation)

2012 – present   R&D Staff, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Chemical Sciences Division

2019 – present   Joint Faculty, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, The Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education

2010 – 2012       Postdoctoral Associate, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Materials Science and Technology Division

2008 – 2010       Postdoctoral Associate, The Pennsylvania State University, Materials Science and Engineering, Environmental Engineering


2023                     Battelle - ORNL Inventor of the Year, Tomonori Saito

2022                     ORNL Award, Research Accomplishment, Tomonori Saito 

2022                     ORNL Award, Outstanding Scholarly Output, Amy Elliott, Tomonori Saito, Michelle Lehmann, Desarae Goldsby, Guang Yang and Benjamin Doughty

2022                     ORNL BTSD 2022 Outstanding ORNL Collaborator Award, Tomonori Saito 

2021                     2021 R&D 100, “Autonomous self-healing sealant”, Diana Hun, Pengfei Cao, Tomonori Saito, Zhen Zhang, Bingrui Li, Natasha Ghezawi and Zoriana Demchuk

2019                     2019 R&D 100, “High Strength Binder System for Additive Manufacturing”, Tomonori Saito, Amy Elliott, Dustin Gilmer, Michelle Lehmann, Lu Han, Rick Lucas, Dan Brunermer

2017                     ORNL Research Team Award, Carter Abney, Vyacheslav Bryantsev, Christopher J. Janke, Sheng Dai, Richard Mayes, Tomonori Saito, Costas Tsouris

2016                     2016 R&D 100, “U Grabber”, Sheng Dai, Suree Brown, Robin Rogers, Christopher J. Janke, Richard Mayes, Tomonori Saito, Ronnie Hanes

2012                     2012 R&D 100, “HiCap Adsorbents”, Christopher J. Janke, Yatsandra Oyola, Sheng Dai, Chris Bauer, Richard Mayes, Tomonori Saito, Xiao-Guang Sun, Costas Tsouris, Jim Brang, Jeff Haggard 

Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan                           B.S.           2001       Applied Chemistry

Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan                           M.S.          2003       Chemical Engineering

Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA                                 Ph.D.        2008       Chemistry (Organic Polymer)