Synthesis, Processing/Manufacturing Capability, and Characterization Expertise in Polymer Sciences

National Laboratory: 
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Characterization Class: 
Extreme Environment Testing
Mechanical Behavior of Materials
Non-destructive examination
Computational Tools Class: 
Materials Processing
Processing/Manufacturing Class: 
Fabrication and synthesis

ORNL has extensive capabilities relevant to synthesis of novel polymers, reactive extrusion, molding, and characterization. Synthesis usually is done in small (0.25 L) to bench-scale (2 L) batch reactors. Reactive extrusion is carried out in a Brabendar three-piece internal mixer (0.03-0.25 L) or a continuous extrusion mode. The synthesized polymers are characterized by Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy and ultraviolet-visible (UV-Vis) spectrophotometer, rheological measurements, and mechanical testing of molded specimens using tools located in the Carbon and Composites Group. A series of thermal analysis tools, differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA), thermomechanical analysis (TMA), and dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA), located in the same laboratory are deployed for the determination of processing window and polymer phase morphology. Size exclusion chromatograph, electron microscope, and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometers located at ORNL's National User Facility are available to the team through active user proposals. Reactive extrusion is carried out using a twin screw extruder and torque rheometer. Molecular dynamics of synthesized and modified polymers are studied by low-shear rheometers, and processing parameters are determined by high-shear capillary rheometers. Morphology characterization capabilities include small and wide-angle x-ray scattering tools. Scanning electron and transmission electron microscopy located at the ORNL National User Facility also are available to the team through active user proposals. The team has initiated a new program to understand polymer compatibility for specific systems using neutron scattering capabilities at ORNL.

Capability Bounds: 

The team has developed several novel polymeric materials, including renewable polymers, high-performance thermoplastics, and thermoplastic elastomers. The other classes of polymers include moldable elastomers, thermosets, and reinforced composites and nanocomposites.

Unique Aspects: 

The team members have broad knowledge of polymer synthesis, modification, characterization, and applications.


Polymer synthesis, basic extrusion, and characterization capabilities are available for industrial collaboration. A few specialized tools are available for researchers through the user program.

Single Point of Contact: 

Dr. Amit K Naskar, Group Leader Carbon and Composites,, 865-576-0309

  1. Akato K, et al. ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering (DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.5b00509).
  2. Ratnaweera DR, et al. RSC Advances 5(82) 67258-67266 (2015).
  3. Tekinalp HL, et al. Composites Science and Technology 105, 144-150 (2014).
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