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ORNL NanoApplications Center Wins 15 Projects from DOE in Nanomanufacturing for Energy Efficiency more...

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Materials Processing and Fabrication

Superconducting Wires

ORNL has developed High Temperature Superconducting wires which are enabled via 3D self-assembly of insulating nanodots. Nanodots arrays distributed throughout the entire thickness of a thick-film superconducting second-generation wire act as effective flux pinning centers, satisfying the requirements of most practical power applications. In 2006, this achievement earned an international Nano 50™ Technology Award from Nanotech Briefs® Magazine as one “Best of the Best”.  In 2008 ORNL’s Dr. Amit Goyal received an Innovator Award for the development of this technology.

Fact Sheet on this Nano50-award winning technology
Poster describing Superconducting Wires and their applications

More information about the Superconductivity Program at ORNL

Contact: Dominic Lee, 865-241-0775, leedf@ornl.gov


Superhydrophobic Materials

ORNL has developed nanostructured superhydrophobic (water-repelling) materials with the potential to reduce energy losses through reduced friction and reduced corrosion. ORNL is working to commercialize superhydrophobic oxide-based powders with nano features that are precisely repeated and of highly uniform dimensions on the surface of each particle. These features are coated with a monolayer of a fluorinated compound treatment. There are a number of common and advanced uses for these ultra-waterproof materials, including energy-efficient applications for drag reduction and enhanced heat transfer, novel sensors, and biomedical applications. ORNL is currently working to improve the quality of the powders and to develop binder systems.

Poster highlight

For a Fact Sheet

For Information on the Current Industrial Technologies Program Project

Contact:Jun Qu, 865-576-9304, qujn@ornl.gov


Nanostructured Architectures for Controlled Gene Expression

ORNL is developing and implementing nanostructured devices for the direct manipulation of transcriptional processes – whereby genes within cells may be induced or repressed via electronic control. The approach is to exploit the nanoscale features of cell penetrant nanoelectrodes as an interface to cells, so that tethered genetic material may be introduced into a cell and regulated by external stimuli applied through the platform of the multiscale device. This research platform is a powerful tool for a wide variety of applications including understanding individual gene function within a single cell.

Poster highlight

Contact: Gary Alley, 865-574-5725, alleygt@ornl.gov


Metal Infusion Surface Treatment Technology

C3 International, LLC's MIST (Metal Infusion Surface Treatment) technology is a low-temperature coating process that infuses a new alloy several hundred nanometers (nm) deep into the surface of a metal to create enhanced durability and extend the service life of equipment. By working with ORNL, C3 has moved from a start-up company to an industry leader, with two dedicated plants serving 35 aluminum die-casting companies and a $1M payroll and hundreds of millions of dollars in expected sales.

Poster on the C3 project
MIST was awarded a 2006 R&D 100 Award
Fact sheet on the R&D 100 Award

Contact: Craig Blue, 865-574-4351, blueca@ornl.gov


Rapid Infrared Heating

ORNL’s revolutionary rapid infrared heating process controls grain refinement at the nanoscale to produce high-performance forgings with superior tensile and fatigue properties. ORNL is working with the Forging Industry Association to commercialize this R&D 100 award winning technology.

Learn more

Contact: Craig Blue, 865-574-4351, blueca@ornl.gov


Nano-Composite Coatings from Iron-Based Glassy Powder

ORNL has developed scaled melting, powder fabrication, and laser processing techniques that fuse and devitrify iron-based amorphous powders into ultra-hard nano-composite coatings which are harder than conventional tool steels. Use of high heating/cooling rate furnace technologies at ORNL enables:

  •  “Dial-in” desired nano-structures
  • Carbon and boron supersaturated steels, which avoid segregation and develop nano-sized ceramic precipitates
  • Production of nano-structured coatings metallurgically bonded to substrate, and
  • Fabrication of bulk nanocrystalline components.

An ORNL-led team developed process techniques to laser fuse the amorphous powders to a demonstration on state-of-the-art disc cutters used in tunnel-boring applications. The nanocomposite coatings were the first coatings of any kind to survive rigorous testing in hard rock simulations.

Learn more

For Information on the Current Industrial Technologies Program Project

Contact: Bill Peter, 865-241-8113, peterwh@ornl.gov

Self-Assembled, Nanostructured Carbon Materials

ORNL has developed a capability to synthesize novel carbon materials with tailored energy-storage performance to serve as electrodes in electrochemical capacitors (supercapacitors). Carbon materials with controllable, nanoscale pore size can now be produced by self-assembly using conventional manufacturing processes. The new materials have competitive energy and power densities relative to commercial activated carbon materials. ORNL is working with industrial collaborators to develop materials and devices that are expected to impact electrical grid, renewable energy, transportation, and water treatment applications.

Poster highlight

For a Fact Sheet

For Information on the Current Industrial Technologies Program Project

Contact: David DePaoli, 865-574-6817, depaolidw@ornl.gov


Pulse Thermal Processing (PTP) of Microelectronics

ORNL has developed a unique high-density plasma arc-based pulse thermal processing technology for rapid thermal annealing of thin-film light-emitting diodes and thin-film and nano-particle photovoltaic (PV) materials. This process has the potential to significantly increase PV collection efficiency and LED electrical properties while increasing production rates and decreasing production costs. ORNL is working with a multitude of companies that are on the leading edge of their respectivetechnologies.

Poster on this technology

Handout about this technology
For Information on the Current Industrial Technologies Program Project

For a Fact Sheet

Contact: Ron Ott, 865-574-5172, ottr@ornl.gov
Adrian Sabau, 865-241-5145, sabaua@ornl.gov


Advanced Laser Structuring

ORNL has setup an Advanced Laser Structuring Facility in which interfering high-power laser beams provide a 2-dimensional periodic high-speed thermal or chemical treatment to surfaces. This leads to a direct structuring with perfect long-range ordered periodicity. Up to 50,000 lines or 2 billion dots can be created at a surface within a fraction of a second, turning ordinary surfaces into multi-functional composites and chemical structures. The feature sizes are nanoscaled, the feature spacing ranges from 0.2 to 50 µm while the structured area of a single shot lays in the range of mm² to cm². With this system it is possible to functionalize material‘s surfaces by manipulation of the topography, the phase-microstructure, the texture, the residual stress situation and the formation of new phases being utilized in automotive and industrial applications and for tissue engineering and biomedical devices. Click here for a fact sheet on advanced laser structuring.

Contact: Claus Daniel, 865-241-9521, danielc@ornl.gov


Microwave Activation of Nanostructured Catalysts for Crude Oil Processing

Microwave activation of nanostructured metal oxide catalysts is expected to lower refinery process energy by selective heating and activation of catalyst surface sites that enables lower bulk process temperatures. Previous work has demonstrated that heavy oils are microwave transparent in industrially permitted frequencies which couple with refinery catalysts, and that microwave transmission distances in a catalyst-heavy oil system are sufficient for retrofit deployment in existing refineries. ORNL is working to develop data about process specifications; technology options; performance; markets; risks; and customers for this technology.

For a poster on the project

For a Fact Sheet

For Information on the Current Industrial Technologies Program Project

Contact: W. L. Griffith, griffithwl@ornl.gov , (865) 574-4970


Large Scale Nanofermentation of Quantum Dots

Oak Ridge National Laboratory has developed methods to control the properties of particles produced by particular strains of thermophilic anaerobic bacteria. Using a natural, fermentation process ONRL can control the size and shape of nanoscale magnetite produced in industrial size fermentors at low temperature. The ability to integrate a surfacant into the production enables a nanoproduct that is easily dispersed. This process is low cost, low temperature and easily scalable, and was awarded an R&D 100 award. ORNL will apply this technology to the production of quantum dots for potential applications in energy efficient photovoltaics, such as CdS, CIGS, and CIGSe.

R&D 100 Fact Sheet

For Information on the Current Industrial Technologies Program Project

For a Fact Sheet

Contact: Lonnie Love, lovelj@ornl.gov , (865) 576-4630


Nano-scale Interpenetrating Phase Composites (IPC’S) for Industrial Applications

Nano-scale IPC’s show improved mechanical, electrical, and thermal properties over traditional refractory materials which can have limited use at high temperature. Nano-scale IPC’s have previously been demonstrated at the lab scale, but have been limited to thin films. IPC components of useable size have not been possible with current processes due to difficulties infiltrating preforms (low wetting) and closing pores within the preform. ORNL is exploring feasibility of producing nano-scale IPC components of a useable size for testing/implementation in real applications. The work will investigate methods to improve and scale up the current common low temperature IPC processing techniques, and evaluate the technical feasibility of modifying an alternative high temperature TCON process to produce nano-scale IPC components.

For Information on the Current Industrial Technologies Program Project

For a Fact Sheet

Contact: James Hemrick, hemrickjg@ornl.gov, (865) 776-0758


Nanocatalysts for Diesel Engines

Diesel engines offer 30% better fuel economy than gasoline engines, but their use is limited by the ability to meet emission regulations. This project will develop durable zeolite nanocatalysts with broader temperature operating windows to treat diesel engine emissions. ORNL’s approach will analyze failure modes of zeolite catalysts under Urea-Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) operating conditions, then use this information to synthesize new nano-structure modified, hydrothermally stable, zeolite catalysts. The new catalysts will be evaluated under laboratory conditions, then undergo Dynamometer testing.

For Information on the Current Industrial Technologies Program Project

Contact: Chaitanya Narula, narulack@ornl.gov, (865) 574-8445


Real-Time Characterization

ORNL has developed a technology that uses a commercial differential mobility analyzer to sample and characterize in real time the nanoparticles produced in gas-phase processes. Demonstrations have been performed on processes for production of metal-oxide particles and carbon nanomaterials. The system was recently tested at a plasma arc reactor at Luna nanoWorks.


MPLUS Highlight

Contact: David DePaoli, 865-574-6817, depaolidw@ornl.gov

Responsible Development

Chemical Industry Nanotechnology Roadmapping

For the past several years, ORNL has supported the forefront efforts of the Industrial Technologies Program (ITP) of the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and the Chemical Industry Vision2020 Technology Partnership in identifying key R&D goals accelerate the responsible development of nanotechnologies to commercial-scale implementation. More information may be found at the Chemical Industry Vision2020 Nanotechnology page.

Contact: David DePaoli, 865-574-6817, depaolidw@ornl.gov


Nanomaterials Environmental Safety and Health Research


ORNL is active in developing knowledge and capabilities on health and environmental impacts of nanomaterials. The ability to deliver well-characterized nanoparticles in singlets and controlled aggregate states has been developed to facilitate ongoing research in biological impacts of nanoparticles. Unique exposure techniques combined with nose-only inhalation exposure are being applied to investigate biological responses at cellular and physiologic levels. Click here for a fact sheet.

Contact: Mengdawn Cheng, 865-241-5918, chengmd@ornl.gov

Rapid Prototyping for Development

 and Deployment

Next-Generation Prosthetic Devices

A valuable output of energy R&D is application of knowledge to solve important problems in other aspects of life. A prime example is Flexible Integrated Lightweight Multifunctional skin (FILMskin), a revolutionary concept for the “skin” used in human prosthetic devices. The nano-enabled FILMskin will contain pressure- and temperature-sensing capabilities, like human skin, yet will be tough and flexible. Oak Ridge scientists and engineers are using the novel properties of carbon nanotubes and aligned nanotube arrays to enhance electroactive polymers to provide multifunctional capabilities to next-generation prosthetic devices. Scientists at ORNL are also providing robotic and cognitive capabilities for the prosthetics. 

For More Information.

Contact: David Geohegan, 865-576-5097, geohegandb@ornl.gov


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