iCFN: Message from CFN Director Emilio Mendez

Emilio Mendez

Emilio Mendez

Happy New Year to our extensive and ever-growing CFN community! We have had an exceptional 2015, marked by major scientific achievements, new instruments, and strong collaborations between CFN staff and users. 

CFN Scientific Highlights

We are fortunate at the CFN to regularly contribute to and lead groundbreaking research. Some of your scientific strides, too numerous to revisit here, are featured on the CFN webpage. I would like to take this opportunity to sample a few highlights of the CFN staff members over the past year.

Oleg Gang and his collaborators pushed DNA-guided self-assembly into new territory this year, with several major publications. Oleg’s team has brought us closer to engineering fully customized nanostructures on much larger scales with research that was spotlighted here, here, and here

A group led by Chuck Black created polymer-mediated nano-architectures with powerful macro-scale effects. These included superhydrophobic surfaces for a range of applications and anti-reflective materials that could enhance absorption of solar radiation. There are even exciting homeland security applications that Chuck and his team are exploring. Read more here

Eric Stach, Anibal Boscoboinik, and their collaborators continue to build out our operando capabilities, making us world-leaders in that space. In particular, Eric’s team has developed and tested a microreactor cell that allows the same reaction to unfold under the same conditions inside an electron microscope or synchrotron x-ray beamline. Learn more about Eric’s work here and here.

A team led by Kevin Yager developed a way to drive rapid self-assembly in block copolymers through laser zone annealing (LZA). The process creates custom nanostructures with extreme precision at rates 1,000 times faster than traditional ovens. Kevin’s LZA process was featured here and here.

Published in high-impact journals, this work—and, of course, other research not mentioned here—is emblematic of what we do at the CFN; we are eager to see how it continues to evolve and fosters collaborations with CFN users. 

Looking Ahead to 2016

Our partnership with NSLS-2 is becoming even stronger, and 2016 promises to be very bright (pun intended). The three endstations the CFN will operate are all taking shape as NSLS-II ramps up. For instance, the ambient-pressure x-ray photoemission spectroscopy (AP-XPS) endstation at beamline CSX-2 was successfully tested last year, and it is now being commissioned with select user projects. We expect to have this endstation ready for general users this spring. The other two endstations, SAXS (small-angle x-ray scattering) and LEEM/PEEM (low-energy electron microscopy/photoemission electron spectroscopy), will be set up later in the year at beamlines currently under development. 

A new electron microscope (FEI Talos) has also arrived and will be installed as soon as we finish refurbishing its lab space. The new instrument allows us to use liquid micro-cells to systematically explore operando characterization of nanomaterials, especially nanocatalysts during chemical reactions. The micro-cells Eric developed will play a key role in the success of this instrument and its synergy with NSLS-II beamlines. It is also worth noting that with this dedicated operando instrument in place, our environmental TEM will be more readily available to CFN staff and users for other experiments. We expect to have the new facility active by the summer.

The DOE’s Triennial Review of the CFN Operations and Research is scheduled for August 23-25, 2016. As you’ll recall, we did very well in the previous review, and we are challenged to perform even better. This will involve extensive preparation by CFN staff and participation from the user community, including for interviews and poster presentations. Part of the review involves laying out our plans for the scientific programs at CFN and the facilities and capabilities we will maintain, enhance, or acquire. So we will want your input on all of that, especially how we can best serve your scientific needs and goals.

Please take a look at the rest of this issue to catch up on activities at the CFN, including updates from the Users Executive Committee and research from staff scientist Matthew Sfeir.

Congratulations to all of you on a superlative and stimulating 2015. I look forward to the heights we will reach in 2016, and I wish you a happy and productive year.

 — Emilio Mendez
Director, Center for Functional Nanomaterials

2016-6168  |  INT/EXT  |  Newsroom