Oak Ridge National Laboratory


News Release

Media Contact: Bill Cabage (cabagewh@ornl.gov)
Communications and External Relations


Southeastern physicists, Scientific American cite ORNL's Thundat

Thomas Thundat
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Dec. 16, 2004 — A regional professional society of physicists and a leading science publication have recently honored Thomas Thundat, of the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, for excellence in scientific research.

The Southeastern Section of the American Physical Society (SESAPS) recently named Thundat the 2004 winner of its Jesse W. Beams Research Award for research excellence. Thundat has also been listed as one of Scientific American magazine's "Scientific American 50 Award" winners.

Thundat, a senior researcher in ORNL's Life Sciences Division, received the Jesse W. Beams Research Award at SESAPS' the 71st annual meeting held recently in Oak Ridge. The award recognizes especially significant or meritorious research in physics carried out in the ten-state SESAPS region.

SESAPS recognized Thundat for his work in micromechanical sensors and detection technologies, particularly with the development of cantilever sensors covering more than 10 years of research. Microcantilevers--microscopic devices that can be used for detecting a number of substances including trace quantities of chemical and biological agents--are one application of the cantilever technology.

One application under study would use the microcantilever technology to detect minute amounts of TNT, which could be applied to both national security missions and the reclamation of former battlefields and war zones.

Thundat has also been listed as one of Scientific American magazine's "Scientific American 50 Award" winners. The magazine notes "those who during 2003-2004 exhibited outstanding technology leadership in the realms of research, business and policy making." His co-honorees on the list of 50 include former First Lady Nancy Reagan.

Thundat's listing, which he shares with Jesse Adams of the University of Nevada at Reno, is based on his work with microcantilevers for TNT detection.

Thundat and his wife, Darilyn, have two daughters, Rachel and Tess. The family resides in West Knoxville.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is a multiprogram laboratory managed for the Department of Energy by UT-Battelle.