Argonne’s innovative science at the service of Amer


The projects are part of new $35 million in funding to tap into the many talents of America’s small businesses.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced $35 million in funding for various small businesses to research clean energy, climate, and other science-based solutions. These Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) fellowships aim to turn DOE-supported science and technology breakthroughs into viable products and services.

DOE Argonne National Laboratory researchers will contribute to three SBIR/STTR projects. Projects will build on Argonne’s many strengths in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), as well as quantum information science. Each project will receive approximately $200,000 for six months to a year.

In one project, a team led by Maria Chan will work with VISIMO (Coraopolis, Pennsylvania) to develop AI and ML-based data management software. This software will use AI and ML to automatically label and organize microscopy images, such as those from the Center for Nanoscale Materials (CNM) at Argonne, a user facility of the DOE Office of Science and other scientific research centers at the nanoscale. Such automation will improve the findability, accessibility, interoperability, and reuse of large datasets generated by microscopic imaging in DOE laboratories. It will thus make it easier for researchers to make discoveries such as new or improved catalysts and batteries for sustainable energy production and storage.

“Argonne is excited to partner with small businesses to expand its impact and support technology transfer.” — Megan Clifford, Associate Lab Director for Science and Technology Outreach and Partnerships

Chan is a nanoscientist at CNM. She is also a Principal Investigator at the Northwestern Argonne Institute for Science and Engineering and a member of the University of Chicago Consortium for Advanced Science and Engineering (UChicago CASE).

For the second project, a team led by Subramanian Sankaranarayanan will work with Sentient Science Corp. (West Lafayette, Indiana) on another software package that leverages AI and ML. They will take advantage of high-performance computers at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility, a DOE Office of Science user facility. Their software will accelerate the development of new models for studying material properties that can be applied to solving industrial problems.

“Sentient Science wants to integrate our physics-based models with their lifespan prediction software,” Sankaranarayanan said. “This capability would allow them to predict short-term and long-term failure rates of mechanical systems, such as wind turbines, rotorcraft and rail transportation, in order to identify life-extending actions that reduce costs. Sankaranarayanan is a CNM group leader and associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

For the third project, F. Joseph Heremans is partnering with Adamas Nanotechnologies (Raleigh, North Carolina) and the City College of New York to develop a method for the commercial production of a key quantum material for new sensors. This material is a diamond that has been engineered with defects in the crystal structure to exploit their quantum properties. At present, the lack of commercial production of the core “quantum diamond material” is hampering the field. Quantum probes with such defects could surpass current sensing technology and find applications in physics, chemistry and medicine. Heremans is a scientist in the Materials Science Division and Center for Molecular Engineering at Argonne, as well as a UChicago CASE scientist.

“The DOE SBIR and STTR are powerful programs for engaging small businesses to drive innovation for the US economy,” said Megan Clifford, the lab’s associate director for science and technology partnerships and outreach at Argonne. “Argonne is excited to partner with small businesses to expand our impact and support technology transfer.”

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts cutting-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state, and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance American scientific leadership, and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees in more than 60 countries, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the US Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science is the largest supporter of basic physical science research in the United States and strives to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://​ener​gy​.gov/​s​c​ience.

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