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Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is a leading new chemicals and materials creation with a broad array of applications including batteries, catalysts for clean technology, ceramics, composites, additives and more. The Lab’s unique Advanced Manufacturing capabilities go hand in hand with the creation of novel methods to create new concepts altogether.

Portfolio News and Multimedia

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LLNL and Partners Leveraging Microorganisms to Separate and Purify Rare-Earth Elements

LLNL, Penn State, Columbia University, Tufts University, University of Kentucky, Purdue University and industry partner Western Rare Earths will use microbial and biomolecular engineering to develop a scalable bio-based separation and purification strategy for rare-earth elements

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Three LLNL Scientists Inducted into LLNL’s Entrepreneurs’ Hall of Fame

A trio of LLNL scientists have been inducted into the laboratory's Entrepreneur's Hall of Fame. Each developed technologies during or after their Lab careers that created major economic impacts or spawned new companies.

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Inaugural Industry Forum Inspires Machine Learning Community

LLNL held its first-ever Machine Learning for Industry Forum on August 10-12. Co-hosted by the Lab’s High Performance Computing Innovation Center and Data Science Institute, the virtual event brought together more than 500 participants from the Department of Energy complex, commercial companies, professional societies and academia.

Chemicals and Materials Technologies

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Novel Protein-based Method for REE Separation

As an important step toward overcoming the technical and environmental limitations of current REE processing methods, the LLNL team has patented and demonstrated a biobased, all-aqueous REE extraction and separation scheme using the REE-selective lanmodulin protein. Lanmodulin can be fixed onto porous support materials using thiol-maleimide chemistry, which can enable tandem REE purification…

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Electric fields assemble silver nanocrystals into a superlattice. Image by Jacob Long/LLNL

LLNL researchers have developed two approaches to fabricate nanocrystal superlattices for electronic and optoelectronic devices.  Nanocrystals covered by this approach include, but are not limited to, metal nanocrystals, semiconducting nanocrystals (quantum dots), and insulating nanocrystals, or a combination of those.

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Aerogels in general are a special class of open-cell foams that exhibit many fascinating properties, such as low mass densities, continuous porosities and high surface areas

LLNL has a long history of developing aerogels.  Because of their high surface area, they have unique physical, chemical, and mechanical properties, which makes aerogels a promising material for use in a variety of technical applications areas ranging from energy storage to catalysis.  LLNL researchers are able to tailor the structure and properties to create strong, high-density aerogels or…

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Small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) data of crosslinked polyelectrolyte membrane films formed under different equilibrium humidity conditions

LLNL researchers have developed a method to enhance the performance of polyelectrolyte membranes by using a humidity-controlled crosslinking process which can be applied to precisely adjust the water channels of the membrane.

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Picture of SLA printed structures using 3D printable nitrile-containing photopolymer resins

LLNL’s invention is a photopolymerizable polymer resin that consists of one or more nitrile-functional based polymers. The resin is formulated for SLA based 3D printing allowing for the production of nitrile-containing polymer components that can then be thermally processed into a conductive, highly graphitic materials. The novelty of the invention lies in (1) the photo-curable nitrile-…

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Picture of as deposited arrays of CNT devices made from dense, aligned CNT layers.

LLNL researchers has devised several design strategies to enable gating of thick architectures (e.g., 2D planar, 3D out-of-plane) made of nanostructures while maintaining substantial surface area available for sensing.  Specific examples described in the patent application (2021/0249618) are given for carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and including typical channel gate configurations, gate-all-around…

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Top: rolled hollow cylinder fiber. Bottom: SEM image of porous ceramic material.

LLNL researchers developed a novel method in preparing the ceramic nanofibrous material, which are used to attract and hold particles as well as unique filter designs. The ceramic fibers are prepared via electro spinning to make sheets of nanofibers. The sheets can then be formed into tubes of high surface area.

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Examples of different UV exposure patterns printed from the same multi-material resin.  Darker yellow regions have higher UV exposure times leading to tougher regions.

LLNL researchers have developed an innovative and uniform single-pot polymer multi-material system, based on a combination of 3 different reactive chemistries.  By combining the three different constituent monomers, fine control of mechanical attributes, such as elastic modulus, can be achieved by adjusting the dosage of UV light throughout the additive manufacturing process.  This results in…

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Top down view of a Gas phase synthesized graphene (GSG) UV curable polymer composite film.

LLNL researchers have developed a method to incorporate gas phase synthesized graphene (GSG) as a unique additive in a UV-crosslinkable polymer formulation. The GSG is added by using a planetary mixer to obtain a homogenous suspension of GSG in polymer. The resulting formulation is highly stable and doesn't show signs of phase separation or solid sedimentation. The polymer formulation is then…

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SEM image of tantalum airbridges

LLNL researchers developed a novel method to nucleate the alpha phase of Tantalum on a polymer surface at room temperature, allowing for the controllable formation of a variety of 3D structures, such as airbridges. Using this method with a subsequent Piranha etch results in the complete removal of the residues of the polymer 'scaffolding' or template while allowing the deposited tantalum…

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Printed TPMS membrane structures using nanoporous photoresist

LLNL researchers have developed novel advanced manufactured biomimetic 3D-TPMS (triply periodic minimal surface) membrane architectures such as a 3D gyroid membrane. The membrane is printed using LLNL's nano-porous photoresist technology.  LLNL’s 3D-TPMS membranes consist of two independent but interpenetrating macropore flow channel systems that are separated by a thin nano-porous wall.  3D-…

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Potential reactor configurations with printed TPMS scaffolds

LLNL researchers have devised a set of design principles that facilitates the development of practical TPMS-based two fluid flow reactors.; included in the design are these new concepts:

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Powder in Chemical Watch Glass

LLNL researchers have developed a Li-Sn-Zn ternary alloy and its method of production.  Instead of traditional alloying techniques, the alloy was synthesized using mechanical alloying (high energy ball milling).  With high purity elemental powders of lithium, tin and zinc, LLNL researchers were able to prepare Li60Sn20Zn20 as well as Li70Sn20Zn10 nanopowders.

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Colored Pills Stock Image

LLNL researchers have developed a technology suite that includes several methods for detecting trace levels of illicit drugs even in mixtures. These methods can be used as a rapid screening test for incoming samples; for the samples that were determined to contain detectable amounts, they would undergo final verification using conventional laboratory analytical techniques.

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Filled (8,8) (left) and (15,15) (right) CNTs with [EMIM+][BF4- ] using SGTI with the proposed spliced soft-core potential (SSCP) approach

LLNL researchers have developed a novel simulation methodology using slow growth thermodynamic integration (SGTI) utilizing spliced soft-core interaction potential (SSCP).  The approach to filling the molecular enclosures is a nonphysical one.  Rather than filling the pores from the open ends this method creates steps in the algorithm that allow molecules to pass through the pore wall and…

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Example of a Standard Reference Material produced using EPD

LLNL researchers have developed a method to manufacture solid standard reference materials (SRMs) that can be used as calibration standards for elemental and isotopic analyses. The novel method allows for the growth of compositionally controlled particles as starting materials, and the synthesis of SRMs with single or multi-component(s) through electrophoretic deposition (EPD). The SRMs are…

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Schematic of electro optical device using core-shell nanomaterials

LLNL inventors have shown that the optical material properties (transmission, reflectance, color) of an assembled device can be dynamically tunable using innovative core-shell nanomaterials and a structured composite crystal/colloid design. These smart optical materials are assembled from nanosized constituents that have a native surface charge.  The nanoparticles can be manipulated by an…

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Scanning electron microscopy image of carbonized resorcinol-formaldehyde formulation.

LLNL inventors have created innovative steps in the synthesis, carbonation and activation steps of aerogel manufacturing that allows for large scale production. These steps are:

1. Synthesis: a novel pre-cure step with subsequent gelation (RF precursor solution is heated with stirring to achieve a mixed liquid intermediate temperature, the precursor solution is then allowed to cool,…

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Livermore researchers support efforts to limit the need for rare-earth elements in U.S. clean-energy technologies.

CMI—a DOE Energy Innovation Hub—is a public/private partnership led by the Ames Laboratory that brings together the best and brightest research minds from universities, national laboratories (including LLNL), and the private sector to find innovative technology solutions to make better use of materials critical to the success of clean energy technologies as well as develop resilient and secure…

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A sample of micro-architectured graphene aerogel, made from one of the lightest materials on Earth, sits atop a flower.

To overcome challenges that existing techniques for creating 3DGs face, LLNL researchers have developed a method that uses a light-based 3D printing process to rapidly create 3DG lattices of essentially any desired structure with graphene strut microstructure having pore sizes on the order of 10 nm. This flexible technique enables printing 3D micro-architected graphene objects with complex,…

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The addition of initiator affects the crossover point of the storage modulus (solid line) and the loss modulus (dashed lined), which indicates curing. As initiator content increases, the reaction proceeds more quickly.

The approach is to use peroxides to modify the reaction kinetics in the production of polysiloxanes.  A radical initiator in the presence of a hydride-terminated polysiloxane will increase the rate of curing and reduce manufacturing costs.  At a minimum a formulation would contain a hydride-terminated polysiloxane, a platinum catalyst, and an initiator that generates radicals.  The content of…

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Biosorption-based REE recovery and Sc extraction from low-grade feedstocks.

The novel technology developed at LLNL is a new, effective means of separating and concentrating Sc from lanthanides and non-REEs in unconventional, waste-derived feedstocks, thereby transforming an essentially valueless solution into valuable Sc concentrates.  The results represent an important advance in the development of an environmentally sustainable alternative to organic solvent-based…

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REE and actinide aqueous samples, pictured under UV light

LLNL researchers have discovered that some inexpensive and commercially available molecules used for other applications, could render certain lanthanide and actinide elements highly fluorescent. These molecules are not sold for applications involving the detection of REEs and actinides via fluorescence. They are instead used as additives in cosmetic products and/or in the pharmaceutical…

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natural protein lanmodulin, LanM (blue) bound to three REE ions (cyan).

LLNL researchers along with collaborators at Pennsylvania State University have found that a newly discovered natural protein named Lanmodulin (LanM) could be a potential candidate for extracting REEs from ore or other sources such as coal ash as well as purifying the REE material.  Through joint research, the scientists found that LanM undergoes a large conformational change in response to…

IPO logo over a face profile with interconnected lines

LLNL researchers have developed a custom formulated extreme low viscosity reactive silicone resin base modified with a temperature dependent thixotrope along with a modified catalyst package.  The uncatalyzed composition is capable of accepting loadings of polymer microspheres sufficient to produce a cured bulk rubber that has a density as low as 0.3 g/cc, thus compatible with high-resolution…

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Rare Earth Oxide Aerogels

The innovators have modified a epoxide-assisted sol-gel method to produce chlorine-free, monolithic REO aerogels in just a matter of hours. This method was demonstrated for the lanthanide series. An important factor in realizing the sol-gel transition with the nitrate precursor was the addition of a key ingredient and moderate heat.. These alcogels can then be dried and calcined to produce…

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nanocomposite_aerogel

Livermore researchers have developed two novel TiCl4 based non-alkoxide sol-gel approaches for the synthesis of SiO2/TiO2 nanocomposite aerogels. Composite SiO2-TiO2 aerogels were obtained by epoxide-assisted gelation (EAG route) of TiCl4/DMF solution in the presence SiO2 aerogel particles. Additionally, the same TiCl4/DMF solution was employed to prepare SiO2@TiO2 aerogels by a facile one-…

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permanent_magnets

LLNL uses the additive manufacturing technique known as Electrophoretic Deposition to shape the source particle material into a finished magnet geometry. The source particle material is dispersed in a liquid so that the particles can move freely. Electric fields in the shape of the finished product then draw the particles to the desired location to form a “green body”, much like an unfired…

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freeze_casting_porous_materials

The LLNL method is based on freeze‐casting of aerosolized and pressurized metal salt solutions and subsequent thermal processing. This method generates both porous particles with sizes down to one micron and macroscopic monoliths with nanometer scale ligaments/struts. The material's density can be controlled during the freeze‐dried stage. Compared to conventional approaches, this method…

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CNT Carbon Nanotube yarns support spherical

LLNL has developed a liquid-free method that increases the overall mechanical resistance of self-supported, carbon nanotube assemblies through nanoscale reinforcement by gas-phase deposition of a thermally cross-linkable polymer. Polymer-reinforcement increases the strength of CNT yarns after crosslinking. For example, a minimal amount (<200 nm) of poly-glycidyl metacrylate (PGMA) deposited…

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Nanoporus gold

By combining 3D printing and dealloying., researchers at LLNL have developed a method for fabricating metal foams with engineered hierarchical architectures consisting of pores at least 3 distinct length scales. LLNL’s method uses direct ink writing (DIW), a 3D printing technique for additive manufacturing to fabricate hierarchical nanoporous metal foams with deterministically controlled 3D…

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Second skin smart protection mechanism of responsive nanotube membranes against environmental threats

LLNL researchers have developed an alternative route to protective breathable membranes called Second Skin technology, which has transformative potential for protective garments. These membranes are expected to be particularly effective in mitigating physiological burden.

For additional information see article in Advanced Materials “Ultrabreathable and Protective Membranes with Sub-5…

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gradient_composition_glass

LLNL researchers have developed a custom resin formulation which uses a dispersing solvent and only a multifunctional monomer as the binding agent. The dispersing solvent system typically used has multiple components meant to achieve excellent dispersal of silica in order to create a flowable resin (rather than a paste). The dispersing agent has low vapor pressure, which allows the 3D printed…

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Bio-Based Shape Memory Polymer

LLNL researchers have developed a novel method of 3D printing regular microstructured architectures and subsequent complex macrostructures from additively manufactured bio-based composite thermoset shape memory polymer composite materials. This technology for 3D additively manufactured parts utilizes up to a 4 axis control DIW system for fabricating bio­ based thermally cured epoxy based SMP…

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composite_material

LLNL researchers have developed the hardware and chemistry to allow additive manufacturing of short carbon fibers in a thermoset polymer matrix which have a high degree of structural alignment over conventional cast or pressed short/chopped carbon fiber polymer composites.

The invention is based on the shear dispersal, alignment and concentration of fiber fraction within a resin…

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ccms-water-splitting

Dubbed the "LLNL Chemical Prism", the LLNL system has use wherever there is a need to separate components of a fluid. A few examples include:

  • Chemical detection for known and previously unknown chemicals or substances
  • Separation of biomolecules from a cellular extract
  • Fractionation of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons
  • Forensic analysis of…
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plants Lattice

Redox ion-exchange polymers ("redox-ionites") and membranes possessing cation- and anion- exchange, amphoteric, complex-forming and oxidation-reduction abilities have been developed on the basis of the biocompatible synthetic and chemically modified natural polymers. In addition, developments have been made towards methods of obtaining of water-soluble and spatially cross-linked ionites of…

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Batteryless Sensor

Chemical and biological sensors based on nanowire or nanotube technologies exhibit observable ultrasensitive detection limits due to their unusually large surface-to-volume architecture. This suggests that nanosensors can provide a distinct advantage over conventional designs. This advantage is further enhanced when the nanosensor can harvest its meager power requirements from the surrounding…

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3D printed electrodes

Nanomaterials that are emerging out of cutting edge nanotechnology research are a key component for an energy revolution. Carbon-based nanomaterials are ushering in the "new carbon age" with carbon nanotubes, nanoporous carbons, and graphene nanosheets that will prove necessary to provide sustainable energy applications that lessen our dependence on fossil fuels.

Carbon aerogels (CAs)…

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energy_absorbing_material

To overcome limitations with cellular silicone foams, LLNL innovators have developed a new 3D energy absorbing material with tailored/engineered bulk-scale properties. The energy absorbing material has 3D patterned architectures specially designed for specific energy absorbing properties. The combination of LLNL's capabilities in advanced modeling and simulation and the additive…

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Transformer

An invention at LLNL uses a mixture of solid and liquid dielectric media. This combination has properties that are an improvement over either separately. The solid phase, in the form of small pellets, inhibits fluid motion, which reduces leakage currents, while the liquid phase (dielectric oil) provides self-repair capabilities. Also, since the media is removable, the high voltage equipment…

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metallic_nanospheres

The nanosphere synthesis process works when a nanostructured substrate is heated above a critical temperature in the presence of a small amount of metal on the nanostructured surface. The metal acts as a particular type of catalyst for nanowire formation. It is periodically segregated within the nanowire in a thermodynamically well-defined process as nanowires grow. The result is…

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3D printed electrodes

LLNL has developed novel nanoporous carbon materials for the surface-stress-induced actuator technology. The morphology of these materials has been designed to combine high surface area and mechanical strength. The process allows for the fabrication of large monolithic pieces with low densities and high structural integrity. One actuation technology relies on electrochemically- induced changes…