Research Highlights

CNMS claims three 2010 R&D 100 awards!


Ultrasensitive Nanomechanical Transducers Based on Nonlinear Resonance
Developed and submitted by Nickolay Lavrik from the ORNL Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences and Panos Datskos of ORNL Measurement Science and Systems Engineering Division

The technology, based on nonlinear nanomechanical resonators, enables sensitive linear detection of force or mass that can be used in a number of important applications, including chemical and biological detection, inertial navigation and thermal imaging. It can determine the presence of extremely low levels (femtogram quantities) of chemicals in a gas or liquid with a sensitivity that is at least 1,000 times better than other comparable mass-sensitive transducers in the market. The new method used in the nonlinear resonator transducers can provide real-time monitoring in a cost-effective manner and can lower detection thresholds in both gas and liquid environments without increasing the cost and complexity of the tool. Research funding was provided through ORNL seed money as part of the Laboratory Directed Research and Development program.


Sulfur-Carbon Nanocomposite Cathode Material and Additives for Lithium-Sulfur Batteries
Developed and submitted by Chengdu Liang from the ORNL Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, and Nancy Dudney and Jane Howe of ORNL Materials Science and Technology Division The technology offers a more functional sulfur-carbon nanocomposite cathode and halide additives to the electrolyte in order to solve problems inherent in existing lithium-ion battery technology. The lithium-sulfur battery system could improve the energy density of the current technology by a factor of five or more. By enabling a more reliable, safer and longer lasting battery system, this invention has the potential to aid in the harnessing, storage and use of electricity from renewable energy sources. The project was funded by ORNL seed money and DOE's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Vehicle Technology program.

Ztherm Modulated Thermal Analysis
Developed and jointly submitted by Asylum Research Company and an ORNL research team consisting of Maxim Nikiforov, Sergei Kalinin and Stephen Jesse, Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences


The technology provides a tool for failure analysis of devices such as electrical conductors or semi-conductors in flexible electronic devices and polymer photovoltaic devices, in which polymers play a key role. Ztherm Modulated Thermal Analysis offers highly localized heating with sensitivity to sub-zeptoliter material property change with vast improvements over other commercial systems. Ztherm is a powerful method for characterizing the mechanical properties of polymers as a function of temperature with the highest spatial resolution available today. A portion of this research was conducted at ORNL's Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, sponsored by the DOE Office of Science.