By Cameron Chai
R&D Magazine has presented seven R&D 100 Awards to the researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) of the Department of Energy (DOE), of which some awards were for advancements in nanotechnology.
The ORNL researchers received one award for their development of mesoporous carbon for capacitive deionization electrodes for efficient desalination of larger volumes of water than traditional technologies. In this method, the desalinization tool used can capture salt ions by passing salty water via mesoporous carbon. This technology eliminates the need of membrane or thermal separation, which is expensive and utilizes huge quantities of energy.
Another award was for nanostructured palladium layers-based nano-optomechanical hydrogen safety sensor, together submitted and designed by Nickolay Lavrik of Nanophase Materials Sciences at the ORNL Center, the University of Tennessee’ James Patton and Michael Sepaniak and the ORNL Measurement Science and Systems Engineering Division’s Barton Smith, Scott Hunter and Panos Datskos.
This advanced technology uses nanoscale palladium particles to determine hydrogen levels economically and effectively. The high sensitivity of the sensor is due to the high reactivity of the palladium nanoparticles with hydrogen gas.
Other sensor technologies use electric power to detect hydrogen, making them dangerous when used with the flammable elements due to the possibility of fire hazards by an electrical short. This advanced technology avoids that risk, making it to be used for monitoring rechargeable battery production, industrial building operations and various other hydrogen-sensitive applications. Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program of the DOE funded this research work partly held at the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences.
The ORNL's Materials Science and Technology Division researchers, James Thompson, Claudia Cantoni, Junsoo Shin and Amit Goyal, have received another award for their self-assembled, ferromagnetic-insulator nanocomposites for applications in ultrahigh-density information storage.
The researchers developed a technology to produce self-assembled, ferromagnetic-insulator nanocomposites at lower cost for ultra-high density data storage nearing or surpassing 1 TB per square inch. It uses a self-assembly process that is strain induced during deposition to obtain defined magnetic nanostructures that can attain ultra-high storage densities. This research work was sponsored by the ORNL Laboratory Directed Research and Development Program.