Staff Highlight

Deanna Pickel E-mail Deanna Pickel

My broad research interest is in the precise synthesis and characterization of well-defined materials, both in functionality and architecture, to better understand the relationship between molecular structure and self-assembly at the nanoscale.

Following my graduate work in the area of anionic synthesis and characterization of functional polymers at The University of Akron, I joined Eastman Chemical Company in Kingsport, Tennessee as a Research Chemist where I worked in the Specialty Plastics Business. I joined the CNMS in 2007 as part of the Macromolecular Nanomaterials Group and the “Functional Polymer Architectures” Theme.

My current research effort is focused on active layer materials for organic photovoltaic solar cells. Our research effort is focused on the development of novel functional conjugated polymers, based on poly(3-hexylthiophene), that when ligated to semiconducting quantum dots will allow for control over the nanoscale morphology of the solar cell active layer. The ability to control active layer morphology in OPVs is critical for increased efficiencies. In addition to developing synthetic techniques for the preparation of these functional polymers, I have also focused on their characterization by MALDI-TOF MS.

My contributions to the CNMS User Program are mainly in the area of synthesis of well-defined polymeric materials by anionic polymerization, as well as characterization of macromolecules by MALDI-TOF MS. My most recent user project involved the synthesis of partially deuterated asymmetric polyethylene stars for Michaela Zamponi from Juelich Centre for Neutron Science. These materials were designed to aid in their studies on the role of the branch point on relaxation mechanisms in star polymer melts using neutron spin echo. Recent work with researchers from Akos Vertes’ Group from George Washington University showed that tailored silicon nanopost arrays (NAPA) are efficient photonic ion sources for mass spectrometry that exhibit high sensitivity and resolution for small organic molecules and biomolecules. These unique nanostructured ion sources provide enhanced control of ion production on the nanometer scale, and could be integrated with microfluidic lab-on-a-chip devices or miniaturized mass spectrometers.

Ilia Ivanov E-mail Ilia Ivanov

My current research interest is the area of basic and applied research of synthetic multifunctional materials, where within one structure multiple performance objectives could be accomplished. These materials are designed to mimic multifunctionality of natural materials, and based on nano-structures, like carbon nanotubes, which have unique mechanical, thermal and electrical properties.

The goal is to translate these unique properties of nanostructures from the nanoscale of nanomaterial to the macroscale of multifunctional composite materials, which should show improved structural, thermal capability, power generation, sensing, self-health monitoring and self-repair properties.

An approach chosen is to develop fundamental knowledge and understanding of interfacial phenomenon, where the interplay between the properties of nano- and the bulk material of the composites takes place. My previous experience is in the field of photochemistry and radiation chemistry. I have studied the interaction of radiation with organic and inorganic systems to better understand mechanisms and factors influencing radiation induced reactions and photo-physics and photo-dynamics of these systems. Some of the systems studied include investigation of differences between the light and radiation induced polymerization of epoxides; photo-physics of physically and chemically attached flurophores on the surface of silica gel as a model of decomposition of man-made pollutants in the nature; investigation of the photo-physics of high temperature hydrogen transfer reaction; investigation of photo-physics and electrochemistry of a new line of dyes for photo-dynamic and photo-thermal therapy of cancer. While developing the multifunctional nanocomposites with emphasis on energy related functionalities, I am trying to establish an educational program at the CNMS. Within such program a selected group of University students will be able to conduct an independent research at the CNMS as a part of their educational curriculum. Such program should give students an opportunity to learn state of the art scientific equipment from the lead experts.

Nickolay Lavrik E-mail Nickolay Lavrik

I joined the CNMS Nanofabrication Research Laboratory group in 2008 after completing a postdoctoral fellow appointment with Engineering Science and Technology Division at ORNL. My recent research has centered on integration of a wide range of materials into deterministic multi-scale architectures with tailored optical, mechanical and mass transport functionalities suitable for future sensor and actuator platforms.

This includes plasmonic structures for highly localized optical probing approaching the level of individual molecules, deterministically created porous media suitable for on-chip analytical separations, and nanomechanical structures with multiple sensing modalities. The multi-scale nature of such experimental systems is critical in creating a link between fundamental nanoscale phenomena and their micro- and macroscopic environment.

My contribution to the CNMS User Program is primarily focused on implementation of complex multi-scale architectures that integrate electrically interrogated components, such as magnetic coils, with membranes for studies of actively controlled mass and charge transport under nanoscale confinement. Such projects typically involve challenging fabrication sequences and rely on the whole suite of the processing tools available in the Nanofabrication Research Laboratory. Such projects greatly benefit from the combined expertise of our group and close interaction between its members and colleagues from other groups at the CNMS. Among my current collaborators outside ORNL, I would like to mention Lane Baker at Indiana University and Kevin Shuford at Drexel University. Within the CNMS user program, I have also been involved in design and integration of functional structures based on graphene and graphene-like layers grown by chemical vapor deposition (CVD). This rapidly evolving technology has a tremendous potential for both fundamental science and energy related applications.