The Energy Labs Rack Up the R&D 100 Awards
From 1962 though 2006, the Department of Energy has supported the basic research for 739 projects that garnered R&D 100 Awards from R&D Magazine for promising technologies, products or processes—€”among The highest number awards for any government agency or private enterprise. "Once again, DOE's labs are at the cutting edge of innovation with new technology developments to enhance America's economic and national security," Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman said. "My heartiest congratulations to the DOE researchers and scientists that have won R&D Magazine's prestigious awards this year."
The R&D 100 Awards recognize the most promising new products, processes, materials or software developed throughout the world and introduced to the market the previous year. Awards are based on each achievement's technical significance, uniqueness and usefulness compared to competing projects and technologies.
Argonne National Laboratory
Access Grid 3.0
What It Is: A collaborative environment in which users at many locations can see and hear each other as if they were all in the same room.
What It Does: More than just videoconferencing, it enables participants to share and interact with files and applications.
Potential Applications: The open nature of the Access Grid software has attracted thousands of users from around the world encouraging numerous commercial and research institutions to extend the software for their purposes.
Passive Millimeter-Wave Spectroscopy (PmmWS)
What It Is: A chemical gas detector.
What It Does: PmmWS works similarly to an infrared camera, as it emits no signal but merely captures emitted radiation from a gas plume.
Potential Applications: Such remote-sensing capabilities will allow watchdog agencies or national security organizations to covertly or overtly monitor the signatures of chemicals emitted from "suspect" processing facilities, and may help to prevent additional nuclear proliferation. The technology also has environmental and biomedical applications.
Ultra-High-Resolution Mammography System
What It Is: A mammographic technology.
What It Does: Represents a form of computed radiographic technology, which means that instead of using traditional X-ray film to capture images, doctors can use a glass-ceramic imaging plate, which then can be fed into a computer and digitized.
Potential Applications: It offers several notable improvements over common X-ray films and scintillating screens, including reusability, wide dynamic range and direct digitization.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
What It Is: A breakthrough technology in the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) field.
What It Does: Eliminates the need for a high-field magnet, and uses an optical atomic magnetometer to provide much more sensitive detection.
Potential Applications: The technology is accessible to new applications, from petroleum reservoirs and other huge samples to very small tissue samples, as well as patients with metal implants.
Low Swirl Injector
What It Is: Significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions and pollution from gas turbines used to produce electricity, or from any stationary combustion system in which it is incorporated.
What It Does: The technology is potentially scalable to turbines of all sizes and can burn almost any gaseous hydrocarbon, including landfill gases, biomass, refinery gases and pure hydrogen.
Potential Applications: With further development, it can also be used in turbines designed for coal-derived syngas and hydrogen, commonly referred to as clean-coal power plants.
Unexploded Ordnance Discriminator
What It Is: an electromagnetic system that can determine the location, size and shape of buried weapons or explosives.
What It Does: The technology offers a critical advantage over current methods because it can detect the size and shape of an object from a single measurement that only takes a few seconds, allowing for real-time discrimination of objects.
Potential Applications: The technology brings unprecedented speed and accuracy to the task, and could greatly reduce the time and cost of remediation.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
MEMS-based Adaptive Optics Scanning Laser Ophthalmoscope
What It Is: Device enables clinicians to image and measure microscopic structures of the living eye.
What It Does: Measures and automatically corrects aberrations in the eye in real time; provides non-invasive, in vivo images of the retina at the cellular level; enables optical sectioning of different cellular layers in the retina.
Potential Applications: Trials show that the instrument's resolution and three-dimensional sectioning capabilities represent an important breakthrough in visualizing the retina.
Non-invasive Pneumothorax Detector
What It Is: The handheld instrument uses the ultra-wideband radar technology pioneered in the 1990s by LLNL researchers who had worked on the Nova laser.
What It Does: Device detects pneumothorax, a condition caused by having air trapped in the space between the wall of the chest cavity and the lung.
Potential Applications: A portable, light-weight, battery operated device, the detector can accurately diagnose pnuemothorax in real time and can be used in a hospital and in the field.
Continuous Phase Plate Optics
What It Is: Optics are produced using an advanced optical finishing process that combines deterministic polishing techniques, interferometry, precision equipment and computer control.
What It Does: These optics make it possible to adjust and fine-tune a laser beam to a prescribed size and shape while maintaining the coherent properties of the laser light.
Potential Applications: Continuous phase plate optics are an important breakthrough for the LLNL's National Ignition Facility and allowing multiple beams to be optimally coupled to targets.
Large Area Imager
(A collaboration with ORNL and others)
What It Is: An advanced radiation detection system.
What It Does: It allows investigators to seek and find radiation sources by using a moving vehicular platform with total insensitivity to variations in an area's radiation field, which can include soil, buildings or even a person who has recently had tests with certain medical isotopes.
Potential Applications: It can be used in searches at speeds up to 25 miles per hour, while many radiation detection systems require the users to walk.
What It Is: "High-performance preconditioners"
What It Does: A software library unique in its ability to provide solution algorithms that are effective on a wide variety of problems, easily accessible using multiple user interfaces and effectively exploit the full computational power of today's high performance computers.
Potential Applications: Hypre provides linear solver algorithms that are developed specifically to be scalable on large numbers of processors. Simulations that previously took days can now be run in hours or less.
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Camera on a Chip
What It Is: A 2cm by 2cm microelectronic device that combines an array of silicon photosensors and a metal-oxide-semiconductor chip with control-and-processing circuits.
What It Does: The camera has a light-detection efficiency of more than 90 percent in visible light wavelengths, a minimum exposure time of 50 nanoseconds, and a 300 nanosecond recovery time.
Potential Applications: It is designed for use in making radiographic movies of ultrafast phenomena using protons (instead of x-rays) as the illumination source and for producing high-speed movies of fast processes over a wide range of visible or nearly-visible wavelengths.
Portable Acoustic Cytometer
What It Is: The instrument uses acoustic waves instead of a complex fluid-handling system to focus cells into a tight concentrated stream for analysis.
What It Does: It can be used for any of the analyses currently being done with conventional flow cytometers, but with higher throughput and greater sensitivity.
Potential Applications: Brings the diagnostic power of high-performance flow cytometry to more researchers and healthcare providers around the world.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Concentrator Solar Cell
What It Is: A solar cell
What It Does: The first solar cell to break the 40 percent conversion efficiency barrier—€”the solar equivalent of breaking the four-minute mile.
Potential Applications: The approach represents a powerful new technology for designing super-efficient multi-junction solar cells.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
What It Is: A knowledge discovery engine that uses intelligent agent technology and a very large cluster computer to analyze large volumes of text data with unprecedented speed and accuracy.
What It Does: Piranha sorts huge numbers of text documents into groups that are easily processed by people.
Potential Applications: Piranha runs 100 times faster than other search engines and can work with continuously changing data sets.
Pharos Neutron Detector System
What It Is: A small low-power neutron detection system.
What It Does: Identifies nuclear materials at airports and harbors.
Potential Applications: Pharos can determine from what direction and distance neutrons come, allowing it to track targets after they have been identified.
Cast Nickel Aluminide
What It Is: An improvement in furnace usage.
What It Does: Cast nickel aluminide has a unique combination of high-temperature strength and oxidation resistance, which is critical for continuous operation of steel plate heat-treating furnaces.
Potential Applications: Eliminates the need for frequent furnace shutdowns, provides significant savings in energy and cost and reduces CO2 emissions.
What It Is: A high-current, second-generation superconducting wire
What It Does: Used for power-grid applications, including coils and motors.
Potential Applications: As replacements for copper power cables, cables made using this technology will carry more electricity much more efficiently and can be retrofitted to the standard grid infrastructure.
What It Is: A new method of producing titanium powder.
What It Does: The Armstrong Process extracts titanium from ore much more cheaply than conventional methods.
Potential Applications: Titanium usage is widespread, from vehicle bodies to golf clubs. Now such items can be made available to the consumer at a lower price.
Large Area Imager
(A collaboration with LLNL and others)
What It Is: An advanced radiation detection system.
What It Does: It allows investigators to seek and find radiation sources by using a moving vehicular platform with total insensitivity to variations in an area's radiation field.
Potential Applications: Can be used in searches at speeds up to 25 miles per hour, while many radiation detection systems require the users to walk.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Nanoporous Thin Films (FNTF)
What It Is: FNTF is used to coat sampling discs that can then be used to easily capture and concentrate heavy metal contaminants in water sources.
What It Does: The technology increases sensitivity by more than a thousand times the previous capability.
Potential Applications: The technology significantly expands and enhances sampling and testing capabilities, resulting in the ability to test water for virtually every heavy metal with potential to negatively affect human health and the environment.
Gas-Liquid Processing Device
What It Is: Manages heat and recovers water to balance consumption in fuel cell systems and fuel processors.
What It Does: Its compact size and ability to operate in a wide range of conditions make it ideal for use in portable or mobile fuel cell applications including vehicles, auxiliary power supplies and electronics systems.
Potential Applications: Useful for distilling diesel fuel to aid in removing sulfur so that it can be converted to hydrogen.
Universal Parsing Agent (UPA)
What It Is: A document analysis and transformation software program.
What It Does: Accepts multiple information streams or datasets, finds and extracts the information needed and delivers results in the format that will be most useful.
Potential Applications: UPA may be used anywhere people fight battles with information overload.
Sandia National Laboratories
Mode-Filtered Fiber Amplifier
What It Is: A breakthrough technology that enables fabrication of practical, high-power, high-beam quality laser sources that are compact, rugged and efficient.
What It Does: The technique has become the de facto worldwide standard for power scaling of fiber lasers.
Potential Applications: The first commercial license for the invention was granted in 2005, and the first commercial products were offered in 2006.
What It Is: The first controller that makes high-fidelity interactive three-dimensional touch possible and practical for consumer computing applications.
What It Does: As the handgrip is moved, the computer keeps track of a 3-D cursor. When the cursor touches a virtual object, the computer registers contact and updates currents to motors in the device to create an appropriate force to the device's handle.
Potential Applications: The technology is applicable across nearly all areas of computing including video games, medical training, scientific visualization, CAD/CAM, computer animation, engineering design and analysis, to name a few.
Process for Fabricating Tailored Thin Films
What It Is: A simple, economical nanotechnology coating process.
What It Does: It enables the development of nanoparticle thin films with architectures and properties unattainable by any other processing method.