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Potential Student Research Projects

Below is a list of potential research projects for students joining the Bredesen Center. Please note these are only a few of the projects available for students admitted to the program. Please feel free to contact any ESE or DSE faculty researcher with questions.

For more information or to apply to the Bredesen Center follow these application instructions:

Application Info

Dr. Chad Duty

ORNL’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (MDF) is one of the leading institutions in the world for advancing the field of additive manufacturing.  Additive manufacturing (AM), more commonly known as 3D Printing (3DP), offers the ability to produce incredibly complex components of arbitrary shape and design.  Such technologies, which produce three-dimensional components directly from a computer-aided design (CAD) interface, have been developed over the past three decades for a wide variety of materials.  Specialized components are currently being designed to take advantage of the unique geometric freedom that AM offers and several applications are being discovered that minimize weight, reduce time-to-market, and save money.

The Manufacturing Demonstration Facility strives to advance AM technology on three fronts: 1) novel material development, 2) in-situ diagnostics and feedback control, and 3) new system development.  Over the course of the past 5 years, Dr. Duty has been intimately involved in the development of a radically new platform for additive manufacturing of large-scale polymer and composite structures, called Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM).  The BAAM system enables components of arbitrary geometry to be deposited at a scale that is 10x larger than any other commercial system.  By using a screw-extrusion technique, BAAM is able to deposit material >200x faster than existing systems and uses a low-cost pelletized feedstock to produce components 20x cheaper.  The BAAM system is also the first to deposit with carbon fiber reinforced plastic pellets, which can double the strength of components and increase the stiffness by a factor of 4-7x.  The MDF has recently been extending this large area concept to include multi-material printing with various composites and thermoset materials.  Dr. Duty has also pioneered a new 3D printing technique called “Z-Pinning” in which continuous material is extruded into intentional voids in the multi-layer structure.  This process has demonstrated a multi-fold increase in inter-layer strength and has approached isotropic material strength (the same in all directions).

Bredesen Center students have assisted Dr. Duty in the development of a viscoelastic model for the “printability” of novel high-temperature composite materials.  This process include in-depth rheological evaluation of materials as a function of processing conditions and component design.  Additional students are sought to continue development of the printability model to explore reactive and long-fiber reinforced materials as well as continue to explore important geometric parameters for the z-pinning method.

Dr. Sergei Kalinin

The team of ORNL scientists is looking for a highly motivated student to work on the intersection of materials science, machine learning, and scanning probe and electron microscopy. The project will include the general development of machine learning tools for image analysis of mesoscopic and atomically resolved data, connect these to the specific materials context, and use these to build the predictive models and further extend to AI driven experiment. The materials systems of interest include quantum materials, materials for energy storage and conversion, and ferroelectrics.


Dr. Ilia Ivanov


Multimodal, continuous-scale characterization of materials and interfaces response to environment

The project targets the development of advanced characterization workflow for characterization of materials’ response to gas/vapor/liquid analyte under controlled/programmable environment. The workflow will integrate “Lab-on-a-crystal “ and multiple instruments to enable characterization on a continuous ( macro-micron and nano ) scale. The materials characterization workflow will integrate signal conditioning, data acquisition, processing, advanced statistics and modeling with large data sets using python environment and incorporate elements of machine learning.  The model system will include man-made polymer and bio-proteins, nanomaterials and small molecules.

Research will be conducted at the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences in collaboration with international research laboratories and universities.  Participants will be exposed to highly collaborative environment of the User research center and will have an opportunity to learn advanced materials characterization techniques and interact with staff and users.


Dr. Kostas Vogiatzis

The research of our lab centers on the development of computational methods based on electronic structure theory and data sciences for describing chemical systems relevant to green chemistry. We are particularly interested in new methods for non-covalent interactions and bond-breaking reactions of small molecules with transition metals. A key component of our research is the shift from the study of individual molecular complexes or materials to the examination of a large fraction of the chemical space. This allows the acceleration of the scientific discoveries with computations. We are currently applying our newly developed methods on (1) the optimization of molecular catalysts for the transformation of small molecules to useful fuels, (2) the development of materials with functional groups that enhance gas separation processes, and (3) the discovery of novel organic ligands for selective lanthanide separation.


If you have questions, please contact Dr. Kostas Vogiatzis ( at