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Highlighted Research Strengths

The intellectual energy of our researchers has produced outstanding projects in every department as well as papers published in well-respected peer-reviewed journals and patents that promise economic returns to patent-holders and licensees.

Our researchers are currently principal investigators on project grants with annual expenditures of more than $83.5 million. Here’s a glimpse of what we are doing in some areas of strength where we have interdisciplinary clusters focused on bringing solutions to some of the most important challenges facing society today:

Advanced Materials

Advanced Manufacturing

Improving hybrid and soft materials and fabrication for novel functionality and sustainable processing, and enabling real-world advanced manufacturing through nanoscale welding, 3D printing strategies, and precision engineering for metals.

Power Grid lab with CURENT


Pioneering technologies for resilient and sustainable power grids to improve power grid performance; developing novel catalytic processes for biomatter to create clean, sustainable biofuels and biodegradable plastics; creating novel, smart devices for microgrids and next-gen power electronics; and advancing technologies and materials for energy conversion and storage.

Schmitz working in the Smokies

Environmental Engineering

Harnessing sensor technologies, data analytics, and high-performance computing for dynamic urban systems and sustainable environmental technologies; and remediating contamination and wastewater and protecting environmental resources through microbial engineering.

Summitt Supercomputer at ORNL

Future Computing

Leading research in software and hardware development for future exascale computing and designing adaptive, self-learning neuromorphic computers for real-time data analysis.

Student working in robotics lab

Healthcare, Robotics, and Smart Technologies

Designing and testing computer-assisted technologies for rehabilitation, prosthetics, and surgical procedures; advancing smart health-management technologies to collect, integrate, and interpret real-time health data; and linking the brain-computer interface via non-invasive technologies to enhance human performance.

Mandrus working with materials in lab

Next-Generation Materials

Creating customizable 2D functional materials for superior superconductors, magnets, and quantum computers; developing new scintillators to improve medical imaging, homeland security, and nuclear non-proliferation; and engineering materials for extreme environments like nuclear reactors, hypersonic flight, and outer space spanning.

Four Jets flying in Pattern

Revolutionary Aviation

Reimagining wing design for faster, more fuel-efficient, safer next-generation commercial aircraft, and developing and testing designs, materials, and manufacturing solutions for sustained hypersonic flight.