Emerging Technologies

For connecting to the real world, ORNL has developed interfaces to instruments and experiments. This provides researchers world-wide with remote access to specialized equipment.

Robots and Intelligent Machines

By the year 2020, teams of Robots and Intelligent Machines (RIMs) will be sent to buried waste sites, and over a few weeks they will retrieve, sort, treat, and package the waste, with only general orchestration from human operators.

To achieve this objective, challenging inter-disciplinary basic research issues must be addressed in the near term.

One of the challenges being addressed by ORNL researchers is improved perception capabilities for RIMs. The method of choice is use of hyperspectral imaging sensors:

  • can map environment in many different spectral bands
  • can correlate spatial and spectral components of image with data "cubes"
  • can detect features invisible to conventional vision systems (e.g. stress)

The Center for Engineering Science Advanced Research (CESAR) at ORNL is sponsored by the Engineering Research Program of DOE's Office of Science.

Quantum Dots

The fabrication, simulation, and implementation on real applications of Quantum Dots is just one facet of the world-class computational nano-technology R&D program underway at CESAR/ORNL.


  • Design and fabricate a regular array of mono-dispersed metallic quantum dots (QDs) that can be operated at room temperature.
  • By using custom engineered DNA templates, QDs can be placed at desired spatial locations with desired nanometer-scale periodicity Derivatized gold particles are directed to assemble by matching nucleotide sequences along DNA strands. After particles are positioned, the strands of DNA may be removed using a UV-ozone technique.

  • Perform first-principles computational simulations of the transport properties of a fabricated QD device.
  • Demonstrate first successful implementation of complex application on the actual QD device
  • fingerprint image

    Arrays of quantum dots in mesoscopic mode follow dynamic equations that are close in form to neuromorphic algorithms. ORNL researchers plan to map the dynamic equations of the neuromorphic associative retrieval orlearning algorithms onto the equations of the QD array so that QD may be applied to real problems such as seismic analysis or recognition of facial images and fingerprints.

Quantum Computing and Communication

In the new CESAR Optical Computing Lab, ORNL researchers are exploring the possibility of transferring quantum information between arbitrarily remote locations (i.e., quantum teleportation).

Entanglement is the key to this new realm of quantum phenomena, and offers solid prospects for implementing

  • secure (quantum) cryptography,
  • quantum-computing algorithms, and
  • quantum teleportation.
In some sense, quantum teleportation implies "faster-than-light" (FTL) communication, where no energy or particles are travelling faster than light, but the wave function is.
source: APS

By exploiting the delicate quantum phenomena that have no classical analogues, it is possible to do certain computational tasks much more efficiently than with any classical computer. These quantum phenomena allow performance of unprecedented tasks such as breaking "unbreakable" codes, generating true random numbers, and communicating with messages that betray the presence of eavesdropping.

In the 60's and 70's, fast computing was done with vector supercomputers. In the 80's, message-passing machines were introduced. In the 90's, the availability of fast, low-cost chips revolutionized the way calculations are performed. During the coming decade, nanoelectronic technology and optical communication developments have the potential of further revolutionizing computational science and engineering.

For more information see http://www.csm.ornl.gov/cesar.html

URL http://www.csm.ornl.gov/SC99/Qwall.html
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