Information flow to and from the nanoscale: combining microscopy with advanced controls and artificial intelligence to learn about and modify materials at fundamental length scales


Dr. Rama Vasudevan 

Group Leader

Data NanoAnalytics Group

Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Monday, March 13, 2023

11:30 a.m.

Crowne Plaza Hotel

401 W Summit Hill Drive, Knoxville


This talk will give a broad overview of the work and mission of the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences (CNMS) and focus on the use of advanced scanning probe microscopes and scanning transmission electron microscopes to characterize not only the structural properties of materials but also reveal their functional properties from nanometer to atomic scales. We specialize in integrating novel control and data acquisition methods into our microscopes to increase the precision, reliability, and breadth of information we can gather. Furthermore, we utilize to the highly concentrated stress, electrical, and thermal fields that these microscopes can generate in materials to both see how materials behave under these extremes and to modify materials to imbue them with new properties.

Dr. Vasudevan's research is focused on smart, autonomous synthesis and characterization tools driven by improvements in machine learning and tight integration between theory, automation and individual instruments. Specific sub-focus is on applications and development of scalable reinforcement learning for scanning probe microscopy, to optimize, manipulate and better characterize ferroic materials at the nanoscale, and upgrade scanning probe microscopy from a standard characterization tool to one capable of autonomous physics discovery by connecting algorithms, edge computing, and theory in end-to-end automated workflows.


For more information on TSK and its meetings, please email the secretary, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call him at 865-679-9854.


Center for Nanoscale Materials Science


When President Bill Clinton announced the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) in January 2000, he said its research goals may take twenty or more years to achieve. Four years later, President George W. Bush propelled the initiative into the billion dollar sphere with his signature on the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act. President Joe Biden's request of $1.99 billion for 2023 would bring NNI spending since its inception to $40.7 billion.

The National Science and Technology Council coordinates research strategies and policies across the executive branch. Twenty federal departments, independent agencies and commissions work together to advance discovery and innovation through NNI efforts that span the entire technology development pathway, from early-stage fundamental science through applications-driven activities. The evolution of the “internet of things,” three-dimensional printing, COVID-19 vaccines, more flexible textiles, and surface coatings that reject water and dirt are just a few examples of developments benefitting from NNI achievements. Better catalysts may make it possible to use methanol fuel cells instead of batteries for long range transportation.

Research continues for quantum materials that promise to drive device fabrication toward atomic precision. A nanotechnology-inspired Grand Challenge for Future Computing was launched in 2015 to create a new type of computer that can proactively interpret and learn from data, solve unfamiliar problems using what it has learned, and operate with the energy efficiency of the human brain

The U.S. Department of Energy plays a key role by operating five Nanoscale Science Research Centers (NSRCs). These are open to the research community on a peer-reviewed basis. Each NSRC is located at a DOE National Laboratory, providing users with access to many other facilities and additional opportunities for collaboration.

  • Center for Nanoscale Materials, Argonne National Laboratory
  • Center for Functional Nanomaterials, Brookhaven National Laboratory
  • Molecular Foundry, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies at Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory

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