Argonne National Laboratory

Strategic Plan

Executive Summary

The Center for Nanoscale Materials (CNM) at Argonne National Laboratory is a premier user facility providing expertise, instrumentation and infrastructure for interdisciplinary nanoscience and nanotechnology research. As a Department of Energy (DOE) funded research center, the CNM is at the forefront of discovery science that addresses national grand challenges encompassing the topics of energy, information, materials and the environment. The center is also a vibrant member of Argonne National Laboratory’s scientific community, fully invested in the laboratory’s key initiatives for advanced materials and chemistry, and research partnerships with other DOE user facilities at Argonne such as the Advanced Photon Source (APS) and the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF).

The scientific strategy of the Center for Nanoscale Materials is consolidated under the following three cross-cutting and interdependent scientific themes, noted below. Collectively, they aim at the discovery and hierarchical integration of materials across different length scales, at the extremes of temporal, spatial and energy resolutions:

I) Quantum materials and phenomena: The goal of this theme is to combine CNM’s expertise in synthesis, fabrication, characterization and theory on nanometer length scales to discover fundamental mechanisms and materials for quantum sensing and information.

II) Manipulating nanoscale interactions: Our goal here is to study and manipulate the forces, the interactions and the energy dissipation between nanoscale and atomic constituents at interaction lengths that vary from distant (~10 nm) to the atomic scale.

III) Synthesis of nano-architectures for energy, information and functionality: This theme aims to combine synthesis and nanofabrication across different scales to achieve energy efficiency, novel methods of energy transduction and new functional behavior in materials.

Embedded within these three themes and supporting them are the vector capabilities of X-ray microscopy, electron microscopy and computational materials science. Theme (I) through (III) include requiring detailed atomic understanding of temporal and spatial structural response to applied stimuli, a central theme in the electron and X-ray microscopy effort. Computational materials science activity is assuming a leadership position in combing first principles physics and machine learning for new materials discovery related to themes (I) through (III).

The CNM provides unique capabilities, expertise and tools to its users that include optical spectroscopy from the ultraviolet to the THz at the extremes of spatial and time resolution, the synchrotron X-ray scanning tunneling microscope (SX-STM), the hard X-ray nanoprobe (HXN), a full suite of STM capabilities, cleanroom-based, comprehensive nanofabrication capabilities, and the Carbon supercomputing cluster. To this, the CNM is revamping efforts in electron microscopy that will be aimed at combining data science and electron microscopy. The CNM currently employs 52 staff who contribute to the scientific programs in addition to supporting the users of the facility. During FY17, the CNM hosted 598 users from academia, national laboratories and industry. CNM users, staff and post-docs are engaged in high-quality science, as evidenced by the publication of a total of 904 journal articles during FY14-16 with 28% of the papers in the top 20 highest impact nanoscience journals as defined by DOE.

In this strategic plan, we provide a concise outline of our scientific vision, opportunities, activities and organizational structure. This document will guide our path over the next five years, with the aim of preserving CNM as a world-class user facility where we are ready to provide capabilities users will need two to five years into the future, and where our scientists can help shape the future of research in the nanosciences.