Center for Nanoscale Materials (CNM)

Morning view of the Center for Nanoscale Materials (CNM).

The CNM focuses on research in advanced materials, complex oxides, nanophotonics, and bio-inorganic hybrids.
Argonne, Illinois Location
2007 Start of Operations
756 (FY 2022) Number of Users


The Center for Nanoscale Materials (CNM), at Argonne National Laboratory, began operations in 2007 and contains clean rooms and specialized equipment explicitly tailored to the creation and characterization of new functional materials on the nanoscale, particularly research in advanced magnetic materials, complex oxides, nanophotonics, and bio-inorganic hybrids. The CNM provides expertise, instrumentation, and infrastructure for interdisciplinary nanoscience and nanotechnology user research. The CNM and the Electron Microscopy Center, a key resource for solving materials research problems using electron beam characterization methods, together form an integrated facility that is accessible to the scientific community at large. The Center’s goal is to support basic research and the development of advanced instrumentation that generates scientific insights, creates materials with unique functionality, and contributes significantly to energy-related research and development programs. Argonne’s Advanced Photon Source (APS) plays a key role in that the shared CNM/APS hard x-ray nanoprobe beamline allows for unprecedented views deep within nanomaterials.  The State of Illinois provided funding for construction of the building, which is appended to the APS and an x-ray nanoprobe beam line at the APS is run by the CNM for its users.


Research at CNM over the next decade will address scientific grand challenges around seven scientific themes: (1) Electronic and Magnetic Materials and Devices – take control of materials at the atomic and molecular scale to better understand and utilize their behavior and properties in new energy conversion and power-efficient energy technologies using low-dimensional materials, next-generation photovoltaics, polymer molecular engineering, hybrid magnetic nanoparticles, molecular self-assembly, single molecule studies on surfaces, atomic scale investigations of structural, electronic, magnetic, and optical properties of nanostructured surfaces, and atomic and molecular manipulation; (2) Nanobio Interfaces – develop and utilize hybrid nanomaterials that are not found in nature but that are inspired by nature’s principles by creating artificial materials that adapt and evolve as they are exposed to the environment to create better solutions for catalysis, solar energy conversion, energy storage, and even medical therapies; (3) Nanofabrication and Devices – advancing the state-of-the-art in nanofabrication and the fundamental science of nanoscale systems by achieving unprecedented control in the creation, integration and manipulation of nanostructures that will form the foundation of functional nanoscale devices by integration of hybrid materials and nanostructures, manipulation of nanoscale interactions, and studying nonlinear phenomena at the nanoscale; (4) Nanophotonics – understand the fundamental behaviors that govern light-matter interactions and energy flow in nanomaterials via the prediction, design, creation and characterization of nanoscale optical materials, with a particular emphasis on energy flow in hybrid nanoparticle systems, especially acquiring a detailed understanding of the interaction of light with isolated nanostructures through the use of advanced spectroscopies and microscopies with an emphasis on ultrafast time-resolution experiments; (5) Theory and Modeling – develop and apply theoretical methods to foster the interrelationship between theory and experiment recognizing that energy and information transduction occur via many conduits (e.g, electrons and ions, atoms and phonons, photons and plasmons) by organizing efforts in molecular conversion and transport at interfaces, atomistic origins of nanoscale physical properties, and optical and plasmonic phenomena at the nanoscale; (6) X-ray Microscopy – visualize and understand the structure and behavior of hybrid, energy-related, and tailored nanomaterials using the Hard X-Ray Nanoprobe, located at Sector 26 of the Advanced Photon Source (APS) to understand fundamental processes driving energy transport and transduction in complex nanomaterials and to discover and quantify new electronic, magnetic, and phonon functionalities at the nanoscale; (7) The Electron Microscopy Center – offers unique capabilities and expertise in imaging and spectroscopy with particular emphasis on complex oxides and energy-related materials, developing new capabilities with enhanced detection efficiency for electron beam spectroscopies, and developing in situ and operando microscopy; this suite includes a chromatic-aberration corrected transmission electron microscope, one of only three such instruments currently operating worldwide.