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portrait of John Carlisle

John A. Carlisle

Chain Reaction Innovations (CRI) Director


John Carlisle is a physicist and entrepreneur with a strong passion for translating fundamental discoveries into disruptive products.

As Director of Chain Reaction Innovations, John’s focus is on supporting the next generation of innovators to move hardware-based energy technologies into applications with high societal and economic impact. CRI enables the innovator and their innovation to leverage the extensive resources within Argonne National Laboratory for two years. The long term vision is to more effectively translate high-risk technologies into the market while also enabling a new generation of entrepreneurs to create new businesses that will keep the US at the forefront of energy innovation.

John re-joined Argonne in 2016 after working for more than 15 years as Co-Founder and CTO of Advanced Diamond Technologies, which spun out of Argonne in late 2003. In ADT he developed and brought to market four distinct product families based on a new synthetic diamond coating technology he co-developed at Argonne, ultrananocrystalline diamond (UNCD). ADT today is profitable, growing aggressively, and the world leader in thin, smooth diamond coatings for industrial, semiconductor, nanomanufacturing, and water treatment applications. Launching ADT involved re-imagining the process of technology transfer at national laboratories, which enabled bench scientists to become equity founders of companies to actively help to commercialize their discoveries. The template he helped to establish has since been used as a model for other U.S. Department of Energy labs in the U.S. He and several others were recognized by the Federal Laboratory Consortium in 2006 for this achievement.

John holds a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has more than 240 publications in peer-reviewed journals and given numerous invited talks at international conferences. He has performed seminal work in several fields in condensed-matter physics and materials science, including surface physics, soft-X-ray synchrotron radiation, and synthetic carbon materials. He is a recognized world leader in the science and technology of synthetic diamond thin films.