You are here

Partnering for Progress


Ames Laboratory has a long history of collaborating with other DOE national laboratories. From its start in developing the technique for refining uranium for the Manhattan Project, Ames Laboratory has provided the raw materials and materials characterization expertise in a variety of projects. Those partnerships are on the upswing today as the national labs work together to help keep U.S. manufacturing at the forefront in both product and process innovation.

There’s probably no better example of this than the advanced manufacturing initiative taking place at the DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  According to Ames Laboratory Chief Research Officer Duane Johnson, teams of researchers are looking at a number of new technologies from three-dimensional printing to magnetic field annealing as well as developing new materials to help give U.S. manufacturers a leg up on the international competition.

“Ames Lab is involved in developing and supplying some of the new materials being studied,” Johnson says, “such as metal powders or single crystals. There’s a good synergy that exists as we work together on trying to break through these manufacturing barriers.”

ImageBut that’s not the only collaboration between Ames Lab and Oak Ridge. Bruce Moyer and ORNL’s chemical separations group is in the planning stage with Ames Lab researchers and the  Materials Preparation Center to develop designer reagents to do separations for rare-earth oxides. Ames Lab’s computational materials group is logging time on ORNL’s supercomputing center through an INCITE grant.

Ames Lab’s neutron and X-ray scattering group regularly works at ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source and High-Flux Isotope Reactor, as well as the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory. As evidence of Ames Lab’s strength in this area, physicist Rob McQueeney was recently tapped to serve as an expert detailee at DOE Headquarters to help oversee review of the complex’s neutron scattering facilities.

Pacific Northwest National Lab's NMR facility
Johnson points to another project, this one in conjunction with DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, where Ames Laboratory expertise in solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance is helping develop the next generation of NMR technology. This characterization technology is vital to understanding the molecular structure of materials, especially in catalysis where we can “watch a reaction” happen.

“Last December, the Ames Laboratory and PNNL co-organized a workshop entitled ‘Science Drivers and Technical Challenges for Advanced Magnetic Resonance,’ “ Johnson said.   “Leaders in solid-state NMR from throughout the world outlined the scientific drivers and instrument demands for advanced NMR techniques, especially a technique called Dynamic Nuclear Polarization (DNP) that provides remarkable enhancement of signal-to-noise ratio of the NMR data – offering a faster and better view of chemistry.”

ImageAccording to Johnson, Ames Lab’s Marek Pruski has been working with PNNL’s Karl Mueller to advance DNP techniques that integrate high-field, electron spin-polarization resonance (EPR) that uses electron spin polarization to give higher signal to noise than NMR, which is based on nuclear spin polarization.


“By combining the two within DNP-based NMR, you get increased signal to noise along with chemical sensitivity,” Johnson says, “which will provide unique capabilities in the United States for studies of catalysts, biomolecular materials and inorganic materials relevant to the DOE mission.” 

ImageAlso of note, in conjunction with Agilent Technologies, Ames Laboratory has moved new fast NMR probes into the marketplace.

Mark Bryden, head of Ames Lab’s Simulation, Modeling and Decision Sciences program, is working with Idaho National Lab on extraction and separation technology and with the National Energy Technology Laboratory on virtual design of power plants.

At Argonne, Ames Laboratory is supplying materials being studied for innovative new batteries and helping develop new characterization techniques at the Advanced Photon Source.

Also, Argonne and Ames labs are developing a joint materials discovery, design and synthesis effort that leverages expertise at both labs, especially in computational materials science

 and scientific computing, to accelerate materials development toward useful technologies, a partnership to address part of the White House “Materials Genome Initiative” promoting materials development to manufacturing in half the time.

Those are just a few examples of the collaborative work Ames Lab researchers are doing with DOE sister labs in the last year and a half. In fiscal 2011, for example, Ames Lab researchers co-authored 24 papers that were the result of collaborative work with colleagues at other labs, with another 17 papers thus far in fiscal 2012.


Argonne's Advanced Photon Source

“Ames Laboratory’s excellence in designing and synthesizing the materials for study and its vast expertise in a variety of characterization techniques makes it a valuable partner,” Johnson says. “And we’re also able to take advantage of facilities and equipment beyond our capabilities. It’s a win-win situation.”

~ by Kerry Gibson