Call for User Proposals: High-Impact Nanoscience Research

Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences

Oak Ridge National Laboratory


Deadline for submission: Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Successful applicants will be able to use CNMS facilities starting August 1, 2016

** It is important to use the latest version of the CNMS Proposal Form because the equipment offered is subject to change and only the latest form contains the up-to-date list.**

The Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences (CNMS) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is soliciting proposals for user-initiated nanoscience research that will make effective use of CNMS facilities and staff expertise. The CNMS nanoscience research program provides users with access to a broad range of capabilities for nanomaterials design, synthesis, characterization, and theory/modeling/simulation in order to carry out studies that will significantly advance our understanding of nanoscale phenomena and develop functional nanomaterials systems. Access is provided at no cost to users for research that is in the public domain and intended for publication in the open literature.

Scientifically high-impact proposals are sought that take advantage of any of the CNMS research capabilities listed below. In particular, prospective users are encouraged to submit proposals that utilize and exploit synergies of research capabilities in two or more of the areas listed below, and proposers of experimental nanoscience research are encouraged to request theory/modeling/simulation collaborations as appropriate. Visit the Capabilities section of the CNMS website to learn more.

Macromolecular Nanomaterials

Synthesis and molecular-level characterization of polymeric nanomaterials and polymer-modified interfaces, including systems based on pi-conjugated and biologically inspired polymers and copolymers; deuterated molecules and polymers for neutron scattering studies.

Highlighted capabilities:

  • Synthesis of topologically-complex polymers
  • Synthesis and characterization of well-defined conjugated polymers, especially P3HT-based materials
  • Deuterated vinyl and diene monomers and polymers
  • Soft matter TEM
Functional Hybrid Nanomaterials

Laser and CVD synthesis of carbon nanomaterials, oxide film heterostructures, graphene and other 2D materials, organic nanowires and heterostructures controlled by time-resolved, in situ diagnostics; processing of optoelectronic polymers and small molecules into hybrid architectures for organic electronics; optoelectronic characterization of nanomaterials and devices including tunable, ultrafast laser spectroscopy.

Highlighted capabilities:

  • Ultrafast (40 fs) tunable and broadband pump-probe laser spectroscopy
  • Graphene and other 2D materials synthesis and characterization
  • Controlled atmosphere dual glove box evaporator system for wet/dry assembly of organic/inorganic/metal multilayered heterostructures
  • Fabrication and characterization of organic electronic devices:  OPV, OLED, OFET
  • Sonospray (large area) multilayer deposition of nanomaterials, polymers and composites
  • Photomodulated AC Impedance Spectroscopy (electrochemical cells, OLED, OPV, gas and liquid sensors)
  • Liquid/gas flow QCM to study T-dependent absorption and adsorption on thin films
  • Tunable micro- / macro-Raman spectroscopy
Nanomaterials Theory Institute

Integrated support for experimental research; development of theoretical and computational nanoscience methods to address Grand Challenges of quantum correlations and transport in nanostructures, multi-scale modeling, nanomaterials design, and virtual synthesis.

Highlighted capabilities:

  • Soft matter theory/modeling/simulation
  • Large-scale molecular dynamics and ab initio electronic structure calculations
  • Development and application of efficient methods for computational study of strongly correlated electron systems and complex materials
  • Computational and theoretical capabilities for strongly correlated materials
Scanning Probe Microscopy

Advanced scanning probe capabilities to study the effects of reduced and experimentally variable dimensionality; magnetism, transport, and ferroelectricity in nanostructured materials.

Highlighted capabilities:

  • Blue Drive for photothermal heated tip scanning
  • Ambient and liquid force-based scanning probes with electrical and electromechanical spectroscopies including Band Excitation, Switching Spectroscopy PFM, and Electromechanical Strain Microscopy
  • Scanning Probe Microscopy in a controlled environment (glove box or gas cell with 250°C heater)
  • UHV non-contact atomic force microscopy and piezoresponse force microscopy
  • Low temperature, UHV scanning tunneling microscopy and spectroscopy of 2D and cleaved materials
Nanofabrication Research Laboratory

10,000-ft2 cleanroom environment for nanoscale patterning, nanomaterials processing, and development of controlled synthesis and directed assembly methods; functional integration of soft and hard materials.

Highlighted capabilities:

  • E-beam lithography (20-nm linewidth)
  • Dual-beam SEM/FIB with Raith lithography
  • 3D Direct-Write Fabrication
  • Plasma Assisted Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD): highly conformal, self-limiting, deposition temperatures as low as 30°C
  • Helium-ion microscope with precision ion milling. Includes neon-ion beam for high rate ion milling with low implantation
  • SEM with variable pressure capability for non-conductive or low vapor pressure materials
Bio-Inspired Nanomaterials

Full capabilities to manipulate and image hydrated biological samples; synthesis of vertically aligned carbon nanofiber arrays; integration of engineered nanomaterials with biological systems.

Highlighted capabilities:

  • Multimodality (AFM, confocal, epifluorescence, etc.) live-cell imaging, with special emphasis on imaging cell-nanomaterial interfaces and stochastic processes in cells
Electron & Atom Probe Microscopy

Atomic-level structural, chemical, and compositional characterization of materials coupled with dynamical observations in relevant environments (liquids, gases, etc.)

Highlighted capabilities:

  • Soft matter TEM and in-column EELS for energy filtered imaging
  • High-resolution TEM-STEM imaging and microanalysis (EDS, EELS)
  • Aberration-corrected STEM at low-and mid-voltages (60-100kV) and EELS
  • Aberration-corrected STEM at 300kV and EELS
  • Atom Probe Tomography (APT) with dedicated FIB-SEM for APT needle preparation
  • Specialized specimen preparation capabilities for advanced microscopy and APT – FIB, electropolishing, ion-milling, microtomy, ion polishing
  • Helium-ion microscope for imaging and precision ion milling
Opportunity to request beamtime for Neutron Scattering

The CNMS is cooperating with ORNL's neutron scattering facilities to allow users to request neutron beamtime within a CNMS user proposal, provided that the main part of the proposed work would be carried out at CNMS. To request beamtime at one of ORNL’s neutron facilities, CNMS users should attach the 2-page Neutron Scattering appendix with their CNMS proposal submission. The beamtime request will be reviewed concurrently with the CNMS proposal review. CNMS access for any proposal will still be based entirely on the CNMS’s standard peer-review process. A CNMS user whose beamtime request is declined will be welcome to submit a standalone proposal directly to the neutron user program in their next proposal call. CNMS user proposals submitted during this cycle may request neutron beamtime during the experiment period January-June 2017. Note that if the primary thrust of the proposal is to obtain access to neutron scattering, prospective users must submit the proposal directly to the neutron scattering user program.

The CNMS offers two types of sample design and synthesis capabilities specifically to enable forefront neutron scattering investigations:

  • Organic and polymer synthesis capabilities are available to prepare deuterated small molecules, monomers, and polymers.
  • Design and synthesis capabilities are available for multilayered oxide heterostructures grown with atomic-layer control to adequate thicknesses.

In addition, other synthetic capabilities within CNMS can create samples appropriate for neutron scattering experiments as designed by users.

Proposal Development

The CNMS website provides detailed descriptions of specific CNMS Research Capabilities that are offered to users, and this list of capabilities is duplicated in checklist form on the downloadable CNMS User Proposal Form. Prospective users are invited and strongly encouraged to contact CNMS staff members in the respective research areas to discuss their proposal ideas and learn more about the specific capabilities of interest to them.

The deadline for submission of user research proposals is May 4, 2016. Please review the Guidelines for Submission of a CNMS User Research Proposal (below) and the Instructions for Submitting a Proposal. Approved projects will be granted access to CNMS facilities during the period August 1, 2016 through July 31, 2017.

The CNMS is a highly collaborative national user research facility dedicated to the synthesis, characterization, theory/modeling/simulation, and design of nanoscale materials, and their integration into functional systems. The CNMS cannot provide direct research funding to users.

Guidelines for Submission of a CNMS User Research Proposal
  1. Content: Each user proposal must describe clearly and specifically which part of the work is to be done using CNMS facilities: What CNMS tools and expertise will be needed to carry out which steps and on what timeline? Each user proposal must also clearly define the expected outcomes from the CNMS component: What are the targets or milestones that the CNMS contribution must meet in order for the overall research project to succeed? Please keep in mind that you are proposing a specific user project; describe the overall research program only so far as is necessary to establish the context and impact of the user proposal.
    See Tips for Writing a Competitive User Proposal.
  2. Priority must be given to proposals that lie within current CNMS Capabilities. Proposals that require capabilities from more than one area are encouraged, as are requests for theory/modeling/simulation support for experimental projects.
  3. Proposals will be reviewed by selected members of the CNMS Proposal Review Committee using evaluation criteria adopted by the IUPAP in its recommendations on the operation of user facilities. Please see the DOE NSRC Evaluation Criteria and Process and Evaluation Criteria for CNMS Research Proposals.
  4. Prospective users are encouraged to contact one of the staff members listed for each set of related research capabilities to discuss the suitability of any particular CNMS capability for the proposed research. General questions about the proposal process can be directed to the CNMS User Program Manager, Dr. Tony Haynes.

Go to Instructions for Submitting a Proposal