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Technical Staff

Our work involves a diverse technical staff including scientists, engineers, technologists and others. We are dedicated to working in teams to move science to the market place.

Staff Members & Interest Areas

R. Shane Addleman—My interest focuses upon application-driven development of advanced materials. A significant portion of our present work focuses primarily upon the development of various surface functionalized nanostructured materials for application to sensing and separation challenges in the environmental and security sectors. Analytes of interest depend upon the application and include selective capture of toxic heavy metals, toxic organic compounds, radionuclides, and explosives. We are also exploring the use of supercritical and near-critical fluids as a "green" approach for the synthesis, purification, and surface modification of nanomaterials and complex hierarchically ordered structures.

Kyle J. Alvine—Kyle J. Alvine is a staff scientist in the Energy & Environment Directorate at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). He received his B.S. in physics from Caltech in 1999 and his Ph.D. in applied physics from Harvard University in 2006 for his dissertation on "Nanoparticle Assembly and Liquids on Nanostructured Surfaces" with Professor Peter Pershan. In 2006 Dr. Alvine was awarded a two year National Research Council (NRC) postdoctoral research associateship in the Polymers Division at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, MD to work on "Capillary Instabilities in Nanoimprinted Polymer Systems". His research interests include the physics at surfaces & interfaces, self-assembly, nanoscale wetting and capillary effects, as well as novel x-ray scattering techniques used to investigate these types of systems.


Don Baer
Iron metal-core oxide-shell
Electron microscope image of iron metal-core oxide-shell nanoparticle being studied for removal of contaminants in ground water.

Don Baer—Don Baer is the lead scientist for interfacial chemistry in the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL) a DOE user facility with many nano-measurement capabilities located at PNNL. Since 2002 he has led a US Department of Energy project on the reactivity of nanoparticles with environmental contaminants. He is interested in relating the physical and chemical characteristics of nanoparticles with their functional properties and has recently prepared reviews of the use of XPS to characterize nanostructured materials and the use of surface analysis methods to characterize nanoparticles. He currently leads an ISO Technical committee (TC201-SC5) working group preparing a technical report on the application of surface analysis tools to characterize nanostructured materials.

  • See an interview with Don at TryNano

Nathan Baker—is involved in the development and application of informatics approaches to nanomaterials. He is currently the Lead for the National Cancer Institute Cancer Biomedical Informatics Nanotechnology Working Group and Chair for the ASTM Subcommittee E56.01 on Nanotechnology Terminology and Informatics. His research in nanotechnology informatics includes the collaborative creation of knowledge bases, terminologies, and data sharing standards for nanotechnology. Additional research projects include the development of computational structure-activity and structure-property nanomaterial relationships as well as molecular simulations of nanoparticle interactions with biological materials.

Scott Chambers—is interested in the growth and properties of doped transition metal oxide films as well as oxide nanostructures created by epitaxial film growth methods. Such materials are of interest for fundamental investigations of semiconductor spintronics as well as photophysics and photochemistry in oxides.

Jaehun Chun—My research interest is to understand "energetics and dynamics of various structured fluids (colloids/micelles)," especially involving nanometer length scale, and correlate these features to larger length scale phenomena for energy, environmental, and biological applications. Of particular interest are self-assemblies of various nanoparticles, non-continuum based physicochemical interactions, and physicochemical hydrodynamics of dense colloidal suspensions.

Zdenek Dohnálek—Synthesis of nanoporous thin films under the conditions of limited surface mobility (ballistic deposition). Adsorption, reaction, and desorption processes on nanoporous thin films.


Iron metal-core oxide-shell

Tim Droubay—Synthesis of thin films and heterostructures of metal-oxide films grown by pulsed laser deposition (PLD) and molecular-beam epitaxy (MBE). Interested in the compositional and interface effects on the electronic and magnetic properties of nanostructured complex materials.



Greg Exarhos—Solution and vacuum deposition of transparent and conducting dielectric films, studies of laser/solid interactions, and development of solution templating approaches to achieve ordered nanoporosity across length scales in ceramic composites.


Leo Fifield

Leo Fifield—interested in surface engineering of nanostructured materials and the relationship between nanoscale structure and macroscale performance. Of particular interest are carbon nanotubes and modified carbon nanotubes for electroactive composites, catalyst supports, sorbent materials and sensors.



Dan Gaspar—Nanoscale characterization, environmental and health effects related to use and processing of nanoscale materials, ion-nanoparticle interactions.


Jay Grate

Jay W. Grate—and his collaborators are developing functional nanomaterials relevant to a variety of application areas. Functional nanomaterials represent an emerging field of increasing importance in chemical selective separations, sensing, and detection. We synthesize and characterize functional nanomaterials and evaluate their performance in detection applications. These include monolayer-protected gold nanoparticles as sorptive interfaces on chemical vapor sensors, carbon nanotubes and nanotube paper as vapor collection and preconcentration adsorbents, ligand-functionalized superparamagnetic nanoparticles for capturing metal ions from dilute solutions, antibody-functionalized superparamagnetic nanoparticles for selective capture and separation of biomolecules, semiconductor quantum dots as reporters in biological assays, and functionalized mesoporous thin films as vapor adsorbents on sensors. We are also creating multifunctional nanoparticle assemblies for use in biodetection and enzyme-containing nanocomposites for biocatalytic applications.


Cheng Huang—Staff Engineer in Energy & Environment Directorate, with research and development interests in developing engineered electroactive (electrical, optoelectronic and electrochemical) materials, systems, and interface nano-engineering, by design, synthesis and process, assembly and analysis, based on charge storage and transport from electrophysical and electrochemical phenomena and fundamentals, for electrical energy storage, conversion and transduction, contributing to energy and biomedicine, including electric energy storage (EES) battery & ultracapacitor, solar energy utilization (SEU) & electroactive sensor transduction (EST).

Bruce Kay—Synthesis of nanoporous materials via Molecular Beam Ballistic Deposition. Molecular beam-surface scattering studies of transport dynamics and chemical kinetics in restricted geometries.


Cindy Bruckner-Lea

Cindy Bruckner-Lea—Nanoparticles for signal enhancement in microfluidic systems—nanoparticle tags, super-paramagnetic nanoparticles. Immobilizing biomolecules ((e.g. antibodies, DNA lectins) to nanoparticle surfaces.



A. Scott Lea

A. Scott Lea—Characterization of nano-size systems with a variety of methods including Scanning Probe Microscopy and Auger Electron Spectroscopy.



Igor Lyubinetsky

Igor Lyubinetsky—Surface physics, chemistry and photochemistry on oxide surfaces. Scanning tunneling and non-contact atomic force microscopies under ultra-high vacuum conditions.



Gayla Orr

Galya Orr—Nanotoxicology: studying the cellular interactions, internalization pathways and intracellular fate of individual nanoparticles with well-defined physicochemical properties to delineate property-dependent potential toxicity or biocompatibility of nanomaterials. Since nanoparticles are likely to be presented to cells in vivo as individual particles or nanoscale aggregates (rather than larger agglomerates that are often formed under experimental conditions), we have been studying one particle at the time as it interacts with the living cell over time. Our approach has unraveled new property-dependent interactions and pathways, including coupling of the particles across the cell membrane with the intracellular environment.


Daniel R. Palo—Interests include the production and deposition of nanomaterials as enabled by microchannel flow process components. Current applications include the production of nano-thin films and quantum dots for Gen II and Gen III solar cells, as well as metal nanoparticles produced by emulsion techniques in microchannel flow systems. In each case, the focus is on energy and material-efficient production of the materials at relevant scales (i.e., nanomanufacturing). Dr. Palo also serves as Deputy Co-Director of the Microproducts Breakthrough Institute, a joint research institute between PNNL and Oregon State University, located in Corvallis, OR.

Lax Saraf—Materials scientist in the area of condensed matter physics and micro/nano-fabrication methods by using thin film deposition capabilities such as MOCVD and micro-fabrication facility at EMSL. Interests in nanoscale effects in oxides and their transport properties.


Mike Schmoldt

Mike Schmoldt—serves as the designated nanosafety subject matter expert (SME) at PNNL. His longstanding safety expertise includes more than 20 years of experience in the characterization, control, and safe use of hazardous materials, from asbestos to military ordnance to plutonium. He also is a laser safety officer, a non-ionizing radiation SME, and lead program industrial hygienist. His current areas of nano research include characterizing nanoparticle aerosols, as well as practical field characterization and risk assessment for nanoparticle aerosol controls and worker exposures. In 2012, Schmoldt will complete his Ph.D. in Environmental Science (Washington State University), focusing on characterizing aerosol exposures to researchers who handle unbound engineered nanoparticles. He has an MBA, Business Management Systems (Edgewood College); M.S., Industrial Health (University of Michigan); and M.S., Environmental Engineering (University of Iowa).

Wendy Shaw—Interests in biomaterials and measuring protein secondary structure and dynamics on biologically relevant surfaces using solid state NMR.

Yongsoon Shin—Focus on the syntheses of ordered nanostructured metal oxides, carbons (nanospheres and porous carbons) for selective adsorption, catalysis, and electrochemical application for PEMFCs and selective heterogeneous catalysis.

Praveen Thallapally—Interests in Carbon management and global warming, Crystal engineering, supramolecular chemistry and nanotechnology, Gas storage and separation.
Community Board of Editor for Crystal Growth & Design Network


S. Theva Thevuthasan

S. Theva Thevuthasan—Interests in oxide nanosystems grown by MBE and nanoclusters formed by ion implantation, evolution of interface structure for films and nanoparticles.



Brian Thrall
Environmental graphic

Brian Thrall—The goal of Dr. Thrall's research is to develop a predictive understanding of the initial receptor-mediated signaling mechanisms that mediate cellular recognition and biocompatibility of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) and their relationships with material physicochemical properties. In collaboration with computational biologists, his laboratory employs an integrated approach utilizing the tools of genomics, proteomics and imaging to identify pathways affected by exposure of macrophages to ENMs, and to understand how modulation of these pathways influences macrophage innate and adaptive immune function and susceptibility to other environmental stressors. His expertise in systems toxicology is regularly requested on programmatic review panels for NIH, EPA, and other federal agencies, and he serves on multiple editorial boards for the journals in the toxicology field. His research has received ongoing support through grants from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the private sector, and the Department of Energy.


Chongmin Wang

Chongmin Wang—Electron beam (TEM, HRTEM, EELS) and ion beam characterization of nano-structured materials; electron beam coupled processing of nanotube.

EMSL News

Room to grow
New lithium ion battery strategy offers more energy, longer life cycle

Chongmin Wang was the primary author of "In Situ TEM Investigation of Congruent Phase Transition and Structural Evolution of Nanostructured Silicon/Carbon Anode for Lithium Ion Batteries," published in Nano Letters, that demonstrated how silicon-carbon nanofiber electrodes have great potential for rechargeable batteries. View charge/discharge TEM video and press release here. Chongmin also served as a contributing author of "A Yolk-Shell Design for Stabilized and Scalable Li-Ion Battery Alloy Anodes," recently published in Nano Letters.



Cynthia Warner—Materials chemist involved in the design, synthesis and characterization of metal and metal oxide nanoparticles and novel nanostructured composite materials. These materials are designed for use in a variety of detection, sensing, and remediation applications.


Katrina Waters

Katrina Waters—Nanotoxicology & predictive modeling of toxicity pathways. Our research focuses on the investigation of modes of action for a variety of diverse nanomaterials using integrated global microarray and proteomic data. Using a pathway-based approach, we are identifying gene and protein signatures that distinguish between adaptive versus toxicological responses. We are also developing network reconstruction approaches to enable the mechanistic modeling of nanomaterial toxicity.



Thomas S. Zemanian

Thomas S. Zemanian—Chemical Engineer in Radiological and Chemical Sciences, interested in industrial scale fabrication of nanostructured materials using self-limiting chemistry in supercritical media. The supercritical fluids allow molecularly precise assembly, improve reaction rates and selectivity, and provide access to pores and cavities with single nanometer internal diameters.



Dr. Zihua Zhu

Dr. Zihua Zhu—My research is using time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS) to characterize nanoscale materials and devices. Current efforts are mainly focused on the following areas: (1) using ToF-SIMS to detect bio-active molecules (peptides, oligo-nucleotides, film molecules, etc.) immobilized on solid substrates; (2) using ToF-SIMS to investigate one-dimensional, two dimensional or three-dimensional distributions of objective molecules in bio- or nano-materials; (3) using ToF-SIMS to study chemical process on surface of solid catalyst; (4) studying interesting phenomena of metal cluster or C60 primary ions on different sample surfaces; (5) modifying instrument to expand capabilities of SIMS analysis.

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