Ames Laboratory (AL)


FLC Region

Security Lab



311 TASF
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011-3020
United States

Laboratory Representative



The Ames Laboratory conducts fundamental as well as intermediate-range applied research in support of current and future energy technologies and seeks solutions to energy-related and other critical national problems through the exploration of chemical, engineering, materials, mathematical and physical sciences. The Laboratory is operated by Iowa State University (ISU) and is located on the university's campus. Of a total permanent staff of 400, approximately 200 are scientists and engineers. The Laboratory's relationship with ISU allows many senior scientists to hold joint appointments as faculty members in ISU academic departments and enables about 180 undergraduate and graduate students to serve on Ames Lab's scientific staff. Ames Laboratory was established in 1947 following its successful development of the process used to produce high purity metallic uranium for the Manhattan Project. This was the first example of numerous programs in materials research, including materials synthesis and processing, materials characterization, catalysis, computational chemistry, condensed matter theory, computational materials science, materials theory, and analytical instrumentation. 

Ames Laboratory is home to the Critical Materials Institute (CMI), a DOE energy innovation Hub.  The CMI brings together leading researchers from other DOE national laboratories, academia and industry to develp solutions to domestic shortages of rare-earth materials and othe rmaterials critical to U.S. energy security. 

Ames Laboratory is home to the Sensitive Intrument Facility, which houses next generation electron microscopy equipment for characterization of materials at the atomic scale.

The Laboratory's Materials Preparation Center prepares, purifies, fabricates and characterizes materials in support of R&E programs through the world.



Ames Laboratory's mission is to create materials, inspire minds to solve problems, and address global challenges.  It does this by providing national scientific leadership and technological innovation to support the DOE's objectives and programs. AL conducts fundamental research in the physical, chemical, biological materials, mathematical and engineering sciences that underlie energy generating, conversion, and transmission and storage technologies; environmental improvement; and other technical areas essential to DOE missions. 

Ames Laboratory supports the following division and program areas:  Chemical and Biological Sciences; Materials Science and Engineering; Simulation, Modeling and Decision Science; and the Critical Materials Institute.  



Technology Disciplines

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Functionalization of Ceria with Phosphate for Catalytic Application
Future Air traffic management Concepts Evaluation Tool (FACET)
High Strength Gold Wire for Microelectronics Miniaturization
Highly Directional Antenna for Improved Communications
Iron Catalysis in Oxidations by Ozone
Linearly Polarized Thermal Emitter for More Efficient Thermophotovoltaic Devices
Low Temperature Joining of Ceramic Composites
Low-Cost Production Method for Alloys Used in Harsh Environments
Lubricated Mechanical Nanopolishing and Motor Oil for Self-Healing Metals and Ceramics
Mechanochemical synthesis of alkali metal hydrides at room temperature


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Critical Materials Institute, a DOE Energy Innovation Hub
Dynamic Nuclear Polarization NMR Facility
Materials Preparation Center
Powder-to-Parts (Additive Manufacuring)
Sensitive Instrument Facility

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Spectroscopic evidence for a type II Weyl semimetallic state in MoTe2‎

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Sensitive Instrument Facility (SIF) Half Sheet

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Probing magnetism in 2D van der Waals crystalline insulators via electron tunneling‎

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Powder Synthesis and Development Facility Half Sheet

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Online System Identification Algorithm Half Sheet

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Observation of Fermi arcs in the type-II Weyl semimetal candidate WTe2

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Microstructural Control of Additively Manufactured Metallic Materials‎

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Materials Preparation Center Half Sheet

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Machine Learning Tools for Detecting Compressor Instabilities

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An acid-free dissolution rare-earth magnet recycling process has earned a 2018 Notable Technology Development Award from the Federal Laboratories Consortium (FLC).

Researchers at the Critical Materials Institute (CMI) and Ames Laboratory invented a magnet recycling process in which magnets are dissolved in water-based solutions, recovering more than 99 percent purity rare earth elements. Cobalt is also recovered from cobalt-containing magnet wastes. The rare earth materials recovered have been reused in making new magnets, and the recovered cobalt shows promise for use in making battery cathodes.

Scientists discuss recycling electronic waste.

One of the panel judges commented, “Rare earths are used in industry, defense, and electronics. If they can be obtained through recycling rather than imported from a foreign country, this innovation is worthy of recognition.”

This technology resulted from analyzing industrially generated wastes from three U.S. magnet manufacturing and processing companies. A U.S. hard disk drive shredding company supplied shredded HDDs. These collaborations ensured that materials used for this research are same as those generated in real-life situations. In addition, the Ames Laboratory Materials Preparation Center reduced the magnets from this research into metal ingots. Collaboration is on-going with a commercial partner, Infinium Metals, to produce metal ingots at larger scale.

The inventors of the process are Ikenna Nlebedim and Denis Prodius, both of Ames Laboratory; and Anja-Verena Mudring, formerly at Ames Laboratory but currently at Stockholm University. Patents for the process are filed. Information on this and other CMI inventions may be found at ”

A unique strength of this technology is that operational hazards and negative environmental impacts associated with acid-based dissolution process are eliminated without sacrificing purity, efficiency and potential economic impact” said Ikenna Nlebedim, the lead investigator for the research. “We’re extremely proud of this success, because it demonstrates the effectiveness of the Critical Materials Institute to deliver innovations that lessen our domestic reliance on imported specialty materials,” said CMI Director Chris Haase. “We look forward to leveraging CMI’s world-class technology, skills and network to enable timely, profitable and environmentally responsible technology deployments.”

The award will be presented at the FLC Far West and Mid-Continent Regional Meeting held in Oklahoma City, Okla. Aug. 28-30. The Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC) is the nationwide network of federal laboratories that provides the forum to develop strategies and opportunities for linking laboratory mission technologies and expertise with the marketplace.

Parts of a shredded hard drive that's being recycled.

Titanium’s strength, light weight, biocompatibility and resistance to corrosion make it ideal for use in a variety of parts — from components for artificial limbs like those used by wounded veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to military vehicle components, biomedical implants, and aerospace fasteners. But, working with titanium can be difficult when casting parts because molten titanium tends to react with the materials used for machine molds. Using a gas atomization process (which makes a fine, spherical powder form of titanium) manufacturers can then press the powder together at high temperatures. The process is ten times more efficient than traditional powder-making methods thereby significantly lowering the cost of the powder to manufacturers. Utilizing titanium powder has the benefits of conserving processing time and energy, and it produces less waste material.

To make titanium powder, titanium metal is melted using a standard commercial process, then it is heated and precisely guided by an Ames Laboratory-patented pour tube into a high- intensity atomization nozzle, also patented at Ames Laboratory. The metal is then sprayed out in a fine droplet mist. Each droplet quickly cools and solidifies, creating a collection of many tiny spheres, forming fine titanium powder. Inventors of the nozzle or pour tube are Iver Anderson, Robert Terstra, Matt Besser, Daniel Sordelet, Joel Rieken of Ames Laboratory and Alan Hartman, Edward Argetsinger, Jeffrey Hansen, Jake Paige, Paul Turner of the Albany Research Center

The Laboratory’s patents are exclusively licensed to Iowa Powder Atomization Technologies (IPAT), Ames, IA, a start-up company founded by two former Ames Laboratory employees, Joel Rieken and Andy Heidloff. Iowa Powder Atomization Technologies was one of three winners of the Department of Energy’s America’s Next Top Energy Innovator Challenge in 2012. The challenge recognizes some of the most innovative and promising startup companies that took an option to license DOE-funded technologies. IPAT also won the 2012 John Pappajohn Iowa Business Plan Competition, honoring top business plans of companies in business for four years or less, with an aim of stimulating business development.

Ames Laboratory’s VE-Suite’s library of tools, an open-source software, provided the background and expertise needed for AgSolver, Inc., a startup company located in Ames, IA, to create and market LEAF (Landscape Environmental Assessment Framework) application tools. VE-Suite tools were developed by K. Mark Bryden, Doug McCorkle, Aaron Bryden and other team members at Ames Laboratory and Idaho National Laboratory. Mark Bryden’s team won 3 R&D 100 awards for tools developed for VE-Suite.

Doug McCorkle is a co-founder of AgSolver and currently holds the position of Senior Vice President of Operations. Dr. McCorkle’s research at the Ames Laboratory focused on using diverse data streams within the engineering process to create virtualized systems that enable engineers to make well-informed decisions. At AgSolver, the open-source tools developed during that research are being deployed for training simulators, interactive design environments, and agronomic decision services products.

The AgSolver core environmental process engine determines a broad range of land performance characteristics at a high resolution that deliver market specific services to customers. AgSolver’s agronomic decision service products improve land management decisions, and simplify mandatory compliance and reporting activities. Their technology uses readily available precision agriculture data including yield maps, soil sample data, and fertilizer application data, in combination with simulation tools to guide better management decisions. The technology uses these datasets with some simple inputs about the management practices for an operation to provide valuable insights at a high resolution 30 foot scale such as: profit projections for a field over 50 years of actual climate conditions, 10 – 30 year projections of key soil productivity metrics including organic matter and erosion scale, and nitrogen use efficiency. The coupled data management and simulation technology also supports high resolution conservation planning. By integrating this technology with a secure cloud c

A lead free solder, developed at Ames Laboratory by Iver Anderson, John Smith, Chad Miller, and Robert Terpstra with a co-inventor, Frederick Yost, at Sandia National Laboratory, combines tin, silver and copper in a novel alloy combination that is low melting, applies easily on typical metal joints, and has a reasonable cost, serving as a direct (no-cost) swap in the industrial setting. This revolutionary solder alloy replaces many uses of the traditional tin-lead, low-melting solder, reducing further the number of lead toxicity hazards in our everyday environment.

The use of leaded solder has a 5000-year history. There are examples of its use in Mycenae from about 1500-1300 BC, during the Roman Empire and in Denmark around 800AD. Modern electronic assembly uses solder to attach electronic chips and components to printed wiring boards to create an electronic assembly which are joined to form functional systems like cellular phones, computers or televisions. The Ames Laboratory solder alloy formula is now considered a preferred leadfree solder by the worldwide electronics assembly industry and can be found in many new consumer electronic items, including cell phones, laptops, TVs, and VCRs.

The technology’s initial two patents, (5,527,628 and 6,231,691) were licensed to a small business, Johnson Manufacturing, Princeton, IA. To extend the availability of the solder, two other licensees, Multicore Solders of Richardson, Texas (now Henkel Corporation), and Nihon Superior Co. Ltd. of Osaka Japan, also obtained licenses to the technology. A Japanese industry-based consortium set up a voluntary initiative to go lead-free in consumer electronics beginning in 2000, spurring a widespread movement in this direction. Subsequent legislation enacted by the European Union to eliminate most of the lead in consumer goods sold in Europe by July of 2006 resulted in more broad licensing interest. As a result, the technology was sublicensed to over 65 companies worldwide. The initial patent expired in July 2013.

Federal funding through the Department of Energy was provided for the basic research and technology development of the solder. DOE funding developed the metal and alloy powder production capability, the eutectic tin-silver-copper composition, joint microstructure and properties studies, and alloy additions for resistance to thermal aging. The Laboratory’s Contractor, Iowa State University Research Foundation, and Nihon Superior provided development funds. Ongoing product development continues to try to improve drop impact strength, thermal aging, and thermal fatigue resistance; two patent applications on improvements were filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office in 2010 and 2013.



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