Argonne National Lab
About Argonne National Laboratory
At Argonne National Laboratory, world-class scientists and engineers work alongside experts from industry and academia to address vital national challenges in clean energy, the environment, health, and national security. Energy efficiency programs include the development of higher-performance batteries, fuel cells, advanced vehicle engines, alternative fuels, smart electrical grids, and more efficient manufacturing and industrial technologies. Argonne has 3,350 total employees, a yearly budget of $722 million, and hosts more than 6,500 researchers every year at its six national User Facilities.
Argonne has a range of advanced manufacturing programs, spanning numerous advanced materials, including energy storage, power conversion and composite materials. This research ranges from scale-up R&D, process intensification, and evaluating emerging manufacturing technologies.
Scale-up R&D involves taking a laboratory-developed material and developing a safe, reliable and economical commercial-scale process. This represents one of the most significant hurdles in transitioning new materials and technologies to the market. The evaluation and development of emerging manufacturing technologies enables the process intensification of materials production. The development of advanced Taylor vortex reactors for co-precipitation production enables faster stabilization, improved mixing and more uniform particle production.
By bridging the gap between small-scale laboratory research and high-volume manufacturing, Argonne is making substantial progress in the development, validation and commercialization of advanced materials chemistries.
Argonne offers customized nanoengineered coatings and equipment. Argonne creates design-optimized solutions for materials manufacturing challenges that reduce costs, improve performance and increase the lifespan of materials. Nanoengineered coatings have diverse applications in the manufacture of microelectronics, optics, sensors and solid-state detectors, to name a few.
Of the many techniques for producing nanoengineered coatings, atomic layer deposition, or ALD, offers superlative performance. Argonne’s award-winning materials scientists and engineers lead the world in the development and use of ALD. Their capabilities in materials innovation and industrial processes, combined with Argonne’s unique, world-class facilities for materials characterization and analysis, enable game-changing advances in the state of the science and meet industry’s need for new and customized nanoengineered coatings.
The Materials Engineering Research Facility is a 10,000-square-foot facility that accommodates the entire scale-up process, from fundamental process research and development, to industry-ready process scale-up, to post-production analysis of scaled-up samples.
Argonne’s success in Atomic layer deposition is due in part to its researchers' use of a range of in situ characterization methods — including measurements at the Advanced Photon Source — to achieve a deeper understanding of the surface chemistry that is critical to all ALD processes.
Taking the atomic layer deposition technology from laboratory to use by industry demands that coatings be applied economically at large scales. Available commercial atomic layer deposition equipment that is designed primarily for coating silicon wafers for microelectronics is poorly suited for coating the large areas and porous materials required in emerging industries such as photovoltaics and energy storage. ALD equipment and processes are intimately coupled. To address this problem, Argonne scientists are developing new ALD equipment that targets specific coating needs such as large substrates for photovoltaics, nanoporous granular media for catalysis and powders for lithium batteries.