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Los Alamos National Laboratory
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Delivering science and technology to protect our nation and promote world stability
LANL

1995 R&D 100 Award Submissions

Discoveries, developments, advancements and inventions pouring from Los Alamos make America—and the world—a better and safer place and bolster national security.
R&D WinnerAcoustic Resonance Spectroscopy (ARS) Chemical Fill Detectors

Features

The ARS Chemical Fill Detector is the first instrument to use acoustic signatures in order to noninvasively identify fill materials inside closed containers. Moreover, our portable detector uses an automated identification algorithm to provide rapid and reliable results in the field.

Applications

Originally developed as a noninvasive inspection tool for treaties on chemical weapons destruction, the ARS Chemical Fill Detector is suitable for any application that requires the noninvasive identification of fill materials in sealed containers. It can thus be used for the inspection of containers filled with hazardous waste and as a quality-control tool in the manufacturing and packaging of chemical products. The ARS technique holds promise for being used in applications that go beyond fill identification, such as detection of salmonella in eggs and measurement of intraocular pressure.

Benefits

The ARS Chemical Fill Detector allows noninvasive identification of fill materials and thus eliminates the risks to human health and the environment associated with exposure to the materials. The analysis is fast and fully automated. The ARS detector can be operated easily and efficiently in the field because it is battery powered, lightweight and easy to use.

R&D WinnerHIPPI-SONET Gateway

Features

  • Transmits computer data cross-country at 800 million bits per second
  • Provides wide-area networking via commercial telecommunications carriers
  • Tailors bandwidth to user need through a system of multiple fiber-optic links
  • Uses special features of its multilink system to avoid failed networks and to correct single-bit data errors

Applications

  • Connecting widely separated high-performance computing centers, such as the national laboratories, the national supercomputing centers and many university campuses
  • Providing high-speed wide-area networking for commercial users who have computing sites at more than one location
  • Combining low-rate data streams from multiple sources for simultaneous, high-speed transmission

Benefits

By connecting widely separated supercomputing centers, the HIPPI-SONET Gateway allows researchers to perform combined computations, matching different parts of a problem to the computers best able to run specific parts of the code. Through this approach the strengths of separate supercomputing centers can be pooled to address world-class problems too complex for any single facility. The same possibilities will be available to commercial users who need to connect their own geographically separated computing centers for data sharing and problem solving. Additionally, through its ability to simultaneously carry data streams from many different sources, the Gateway will support the growing number of users for the nation's information superhighway (the Internet and the World Wide Web, for example) and will accommodate those users' increasingly high bandwidth requirements.

Hydride-Dehydride Recycle ProcessR&D Winner

Features

  • Recovers plutonium from nuclear warheads, making dismantlement possible
  • Processes plutonium for storage in a form that is visually accessible for disarmament treaty verification
  • Eliminates components that might attract nuclear terrorists or black-market profiteers
  • Isolates and recycles dangerous materials (plutonium hydride and hydrogen gas) within a closed system

Applications

  • Dismantling nuclear weapons and extracting their plutonium for safe storage
  • Cleaning plutonium-contaminated equipment used in manufacturing or research
  • Reducing worldwide nuclear arsenals

Benefits

Without our new Hydride-Dehydride Recycle Process, nuclear weapons dismantlement is extremely difficult if not impossible. By allowing plutonium to be recovered from nuclear warheads in a single, waste-free step, our process eliminates workplace and environmental hazards associated with previous plutonium recovery methods. Transfer of this technology to other nations will reduce global nuclear danger.
Índigo-830R&D Winner

Features

We have developed the Índigo-830 laser system for treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), the noncancerous increase in the size of the prostate gland. Our system is unique because it is based on laser thermotherapy. The Índigo-830 combines an air-cooled, laser-energy source and a fiber-optic delivery system. The laser energy is delivered through a sterile optical fiber probe, which is fitted with a high-temperature-resistant, light-diffusing tip. The light-diffusing tip is guided by the urologist, using a cystoscope, through the urethra into the prostate tissue, where it evenly distributes a predetermined amount of infrared laser energy. Excess prostate cells are killed throughout the treatment area. Shrinkage of the prostate tissue then takes place over the following few weeks, and the prostatic urethra is preserved.

Applications

In addition to the primary application for treatment of BPH, interstitial laser thermotherapy is a meaningful application in other areas where tumorous and benign growths can be accessed with minimal invasiveness. Regulatory hurdles prevent us from claiming different applications until clinical trials have verified the claims, but examples of potential applications are

  • prostate cancer
  • diskectomy (for spinal problems)
  • lumpectomy (breast cancer, prostate cancer, liver cancer, fatty tumors)
  • wart removal
  • selective destruction of other types of diseased tissue

Benefits

We believe that our interstitial laser thermotherapy may revolutionize the treatment of BPH. Ongoing expanded FDA trials are intended to demonstrate the benefits of

  • greater patient comfort
  • less trauma
  • fewer complications
  • no blood transfusions (which eliminates the risk of hepatitis or AIDS infection)
  • faster recovery and shorter convalescence
  • lower patient cost
Microsensor for Volatile Organic CompoundsR&D Winner

Features

  • Permits real-time environmental monitoring
  • Provides reversible sensing, i.e, it can be used again and again; time between use and reuse is <10 seconds
  • Does not generate hazardous waste
  • Compact, inexpensive, and power efficient
  • Robustness of covalent bonding provides long-term stability
  • Ultrasensitive detector of organic toxins; current detection limit to 20 parts per billion
  • Only sensor that can track aromatic, chlorinated, and simple hydrocarbons
  • Compatible with silicon (semiconductor) technology, allowing it to be mass produced on microchips

Applications

  • Real-time environmental monitoring
  • Plume/site remediation
  • Industrial waste stream characterization
  • Air-quality monitoring (stack and ambient)
  • Storage-tank leak detection

Benefits

Our microsensor is the only chemical sensor that can be reliably used for long-term, real-time, continuous monitoring of volatile organic compounds in air, water, and possibly soil. Because of its compactness, the microsensor can easily fit in areas difficult to access with conventional sensor systems. With an array of microsensors, toxins can be fingerprinted—i.e., they can be specifically identified—and organic plumes can be characterized for size, concentration and movement. Our microsensor costs one-twentieth the price of competitive sensors, resulting in large cost savings to buyers.

Polymer Filtration (PF) SystemR&D Winner

Features

The Polymer Filtration (PF) System incorporates advanced metal-ion recovery technology in a compact, cart-size apparatus. Our system

  • uses water-soluble metal-binding polymers in combination with ultrafiltration
  • selectively captures valuable metal ions for direct reuse, preventing the formation of sludge
  • easily meets EPA discharge limits, reducing industry liability

Applications:

Current: Recovering metal ions from electroplating rinse waters and recycling them to the original electroplating baths

Future:

  • Processing the waste streams from mining operations and acid mine drainage
  • Recovering silver from photofinishing and printing wastes
  • Eliminating trace impurities from municipal waste water
  • Removing toxic metals from drinking water

Benefits

The Polymer Filtration (PF) System is the next-generation technology for recovering, concentrating, and recycling metal ions from industrial waste waters, thereby conserving valuable resources and reducing pollution. In its current application for the electroplating industry, the system can be sized for both large and small operations and can eliminate the formation of at least 50,000 tons of metal-containing sludge a year. Potentially applicable to virtually every field requiring advanced metal recovery techniques, the PF System is a revolutionary process that will affect industry worldwide.

Acoustic Fluid-Level Sensor

Features

  • Noninvasive—uses advanced acoustic measurements that do not require special mounting or fixing techniques (gels or epoxy cement)
  • Universal and inexpensive—at less than $800 per unit, this system can be used with a variety of containers, container sizes, and fluids
  • Accurate and adaptable to different needs—the fluid level can be directly determined to a resolution of ~1 mm in height, fluid density can be measured, and the physical condition of the container can be characterized

Applications

  • Monitoring hazardous waste storage containers
  • Monitoring bulk containers of chemical munitions for international treaty verification
  • Remote monitoring, through satellite tracking, of the amount of chemicals or other liquids in railroad tanker cars for accurate, real-time inventory
  • Monitoring large reservoir tanks, such as water, oil and industrial chemical tanks
  • Industrial monitoring and process control for pipes, reactor vessels, boilers and stills

Benefits

Our multipurpose, noninvasive, Acoustic Fluid-Level Sensor can accurately monitor stored chemical and radioactive hazardous wastes for container integrity and contents verification. It was designed to monitor stored chemical munitions for compliance with international treaties that monitor and dispose of such weapons. It also has wide-ranging industrial applications, such as monitoring industrial processes for improved productivity and enhanced process control. Our sensor can be easily adapted for remote monitoring of hundreds of thousands of railroad tanker cars for an accurate, real-time inventory that can save industry millions of dollars.

Alkyl Cobalt Dicarbollide Extractant (ACE)

Features

We have developed an efficient, selective Alkyl Cobalt Dicarbollide Extractant (ACE) for cesium and strontium that requires no hazardous chemicals and produces no hazardous waste. Robust, recyclable and effective for use with acidic, alkaline or neutral media, it fills a broad range of laboratory and industrial uses.

Applications

  • U.S. and international nuclear power utilities can use ACE to monitor spent-fuel storage pools, reprocess spent fuel rods and establish safer on-site waste storage. Analytical laboratories can use ACE to monitor nuclear contaminants in the environment.
  • Private and government agencies can apply the technology to the environmental restoration of contaminated sites.

Benefits

  • No toxic solvents and mixed wastes to threaten the environment
  • Recovery of cesium-137 and strontium-90 for commercial applications
  • No loss of costly extractant
  • Less expensive than competing technologies
All-Solid-State Four-Color Laser

Features

Our laser is the first all-solid-state multicolor laser, the first all-solid-state laser to directly generate blue light and the first commercially viable laser to produce all three primary colors. It consists of a fiber-optic waveguide that is doped with triply-charged praseodymium and ytterbium ions and that is pumped by an infrared diode laser. It is efficient, operates at room temperature and offers diffraction-limited beam quality.

Applications

  • Optical data storage
  • Color reprographics
  • Biochemical diagnostics
  • Full-color projection displays
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Flight simulators
  • High-resolution printing
  • Chemical sensors
  • Process monitoring
  • Laser entertainment

Benefits

Our laser's simple construction and all-solid-state design will result in extended life and reliability. It may enable four times greater data-storage density than possible with current optical storage media. It can serve as a single-component replacement for the three separate lasers found in color reprographic systems, and it can replace the orange dye lasers and their expensive pump lasers required now for photodynamic therapy. It holds promise for multiplexed, multicolor output from a single compact package and for violet and ultraviolet output.

Automated Spectrographic Measurement of Uranium Enrichment

Features

The Automated Spectrographic Measurement (ASM) system is the first automated system for uranium solution measurements. It is also the first x-ray system to measure both the concentration and enrichment of uranium solutions. It consists of two assay stations for passive gamma-ray and x-ray fluorescence measurements. Two unique features of the measurements are the use of transmission sources to correct for sample-solution matrix effects and automated daily calibration checks. A robot moves samples between the two assay stations and performs all mechanical movements associated with the shutters and doors. An operator can execute all operations manually if the robot is out of service.

Applications

Produces near-real-time measurement information for uranium or plutonium process control at fuel fabrication plants

Benefits

The ASM system improves nuclear material processing, control, and accountability by automating gamma-ray measurement techniques. Automation cuts the measurement time for uranium solutions from hours to minutes. Compared with analytical chemistry methods, measurement reliability is high and personnel exposure to ionizing radiation is reduced, since human operator involvement is low. The result is higher quality analyses at a lower cost. Automated, precise measurements at reprocessing and production facilities in the United States and abroad can help assure the world community that nuclear material is adequately safeguarded.
AVATAR

Features

AVATAR is a software tool which automatically couples two distinct software algorithms—deterministic and Monte Carlo—used to solve radiation transport problems. This coupling increases computational efficiency and user productivity and is adaptable to a variety of computer modeling problems. AVATAR comes with an easy-to-use graphical user interface called JustineTM, which applies smart and adaptive mesh generation techniques to solve complex radiation transport calculations.

Applications

Radiation transport problems occur in many different industries. AVATAR can be used to help solve complex software modeling problems for

  • oil and gas exploration
  • medical planning and treatment (e.g., boron capture therapy, positron emission therapy, photon and neutron oncology)
  • microelectronics processing (ion doping of electronic substrates)
  • nuclear power (refueling design, decontamination, decommissioning, waste disposal)
  • spaceship power generation
  • accelerator design and analysis
  • radiation shielding and other related nuclear fields

Benefits

AVATAR revolutionizes radiation transport calculations by bringing very powerful and highly developed software tools to bear on challenges facing the scientist, engineer, and physician. With AVATAR, the engineer and the scientist can analyze modeling problems and enhance design quality. The physician can apply years of effort devoted to developing very complicated human models with minimal effort, thereby easily and accurately extracting detailed information to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of patients. AVATAR allows people in very diverse fields with little knowledge of radiation transport phenomena to apply complicated transport codes at the push of a button.
Beryllium-Aluminum-Silver Alloy

Features

We have developed a Beryllium-Aluminum-Silver Alloy that is especially appropriate for aerospace applications yet will improve any aluminum component that must be lightweight and very stiff. It is approximately equal in strength and ductility to the most widely used aluminum alloy yet lighter in weight and stiffer. It has good thermal and electrical conductivity, high specific heat and excellent microstructural stability.

Applications

  • Structural components for aircraft and spacecraft
  • Electronic packaging and electronic-equipment racks for aerospace use
  • Sporting goods such as bicycles, tennis racquets, skis and golf club shafts
  • Wheelchair frames

Benefits:

  • Lighter-weight aerospace structural components for increased payloads and greater operating efficiency
  • Fabrication with conventional metal-processing methods such as rolling, forging, or extrusion
  • Volume savings in the amount of material needed for a structural component
  • Lower processing costs than those for nonmetallic composites
Computer-Controlled On-Machine Polishing (COMP)

Features

  • COMP improves the finish of diamond-turned surfaces by a factor of 3 without removing the workpiece from the machine.
  • COMP can finish ground optical surfaces with geometries that are difficult or impossible to polish by conventional methods.
  • The polishing algorithm, translated into machine language, permits either the uniform removal of material or the correction of surface geometry by the selective removal of material.

Applications

  • Reduces the scatter from single-point diamond-turned metal surfaces for applications requiring wavelengths shorter than the infrared
  • Produces polished surfaces in geometries such as aspherics and nonaxially symmetric contours, which are difficult or impossible to polish by conventional techniques
  • Permits the machine finishing of special-purpose molds for products such as contact lenses, optical devices, plastic boxes and cosmetic cases
  • Can be used for fiber-optic connectors, pistons for cryogenic engines and many other nonoptical applications requiring small, precision, diamond-turned parts

Benefits

  • Reduces or eliminates expensive, time-consuming hand polishing
  • Can be retrofitted to diamond-turning and grinding machines to enhance their versatility
  • Provides the precision machining industry with the means to improve the quality of diamond-turned surfaces, therefore creating a much broader use for these parts
  • Provides the optical community with the means to polish complex optical surfaces quickly and accurately
Composite Lightweight Affordable Spacecraft Structure (CLASS)

Features

We have designed, built and tested an affordable satellite structure that is strong, lightweight, and very stiff. The first of its kind, this primary spacecraft structure is made completely of advanced polymer-composite materials and provides substantial improvement over aluminum designs in its payload-to-weight ratio. Its modular design is simple to construct and saves production time and expense over typical composite manufacturing processes.

Applications

  • Satellite and aircraft structures for commercial and military use
  • Optical structures such as receivers and reflectors
  • Stable structures used in photolithography
  • Lightweight structures for recreation
  • High-performance structures for automotive and offshore racing
  • Corrosion-resistant marine structures

Benefits

  • Increases the ratio of payload mass to structure mass
  • Lowers the cost per pound of payload in orbit
  • Greatly improves structural performance per unit of weight
  • Offers the performance of advanced composites for the cost of aluminum alloys
Cryptand Resin

Features

Cryptand Resin is a reusable solid polymer for selectively removing toxic ions from aqueous solutions that

  • removes fluoride and hydrogen fluoride from acidic solutions
  • removes mercury, lead and cadmium from neutral to basic solutions
  • concentrates selected ions from dilute and mixed-ion solutions, recovering them for efficient disposal or recycle

Applications

  • Removes fluoride and hydrogen fluoride from acidic waste and process streams, such as the electrowinning baths used to extract zinc and copper from ore and the etching baths used during the manufacture of semiconductor chips
  • Removes mercury, lead and cadmium from waste streams generated during battery production and electroplating
  • Removes heavy metals from drinking and ground water

Benefits

Cryptand Resin is more selective, more stable and more versatile than any comparable product. The toxic ions in a waste or process stream often make up only a small fraction of the total volume; Cryptand Resin's selectivity enables it to concentrate the toxic components so that the remainder of a waste stream can be discharged or industrial process can proceed more efficiently. Thus, Cryptand Resin reduces waste by isolating the hazardous components of a waste stream. In addition, it can save money by reducing disposal costs, by recovering valuable materials, such as hydrogen fluoride, for sale or reuse and by protecting expensive equipment from fluoride corrosion.

Data Embedding

Features

Data Embedding enables the noise intrinsic to electronic data to be used for data storage and transmission—through the use of Data Embedding, the noise becomes an additional communication channel. Because embedded data are hidden in the noise and are therefore not detectable, Data Embedding takes a novel approach to transferring and protecting information.

Applications

  • Increases the amount of information that can be sent from space and over communications networks, within existing constraints on bandwidth, data rate or file size
  • Protects proprietary or security-related information sent through open communication channels
  • Prevents tampering with forensic and other legal evidence
  • Links related data, such as patients' personal information with medical records, but protects confidentiality, as required by the Privacy Act
  • Improves copyright protection by making it easier to detect infringements
  • Combines media to improve richness of information

Benefits

Data Embedding is a novel method for protecting, storing, combining and transmitting information. By exploiting the noise intrinsic to all digital data, it expands the capabilities of data storage and transmission systems and opens new possibilities in multimedia communication products. And, by undetectably modifying digital files, it protects sensitive information, authenticates data files, and prevents tampering.

Eccentric-Motion Lathe

Features

The Eccentric-Motion Lathe is an industrial turning lathe that

  • cuts asymmetrical parts from single pieces of metal
  • uses linear motors for positioning the cutting tool
  • runs without the continuous addition of lubricants

Applications

  • Fabricating in a single step convoluted parts that previously required several steps on separate machines. Examples of such parts are
    complicated engine parts such as camshafts, crankshafts and rotary engine pistons; and
    biomedical products such as artificial hip, shoulder and wrist joints.
  • Adding versatility to the fabrication processes used in new product development.

Benefits

The Eccentric-Motion Lathe is the first industrial lathe to accomplish a long-time dream of machine tool designers: using linear motors to drive the movements of the cutting tool. The special characteristics of linear motors—precise positioning, rapid response, and no linear momentum loss during directional changes—allow our lathe to cut complex, asymmetrical parts that previously required multiple tool setups and customized holding assemblies. The Eccentric-Motion Lathe runs without the continuous addition of lubricants--the small amount of lubrication required is permanently sealed inside the lathe's ball-bearing trackways and never needs to be renewed. As a result, no hazardous solvents are needed to clean oily residues from fabricated parts.

High-Density Read-Only Memory (HD ROM)

Features

Built of robust materials, such as steel or iridium, our HD ROM is the first nonmagnetic, nonoptical data storage device that permits data densities of 23,000 megabits per square inch, which is 180 times greater than possible with the available CD-ROM technology. Depending on the material from which the HD ROM is made, its estimated lifetime can be as high as 5,000 years (for iridium). Data stored on the HD ROM in alphanumeric and graphical formats can be recovered without the use of a bit-stream interpreter (or reader). Data stored in binary format also can be readily retrieved because we describe on the HD ROM, in human-readable form, the instructions needed for the interpreter to read binary data.

Applications

Anyone who must generate archives needs reliable, long-lasting systems for data storage. Our HD ROM is reliable and long lasting, and it also allows very high data densities, a capability that reduces storage space and thereby storage costs. The HD ROM was developed for immediate application to archives and data-intense computing. Some other applications for our HD ROM are in the areas of finance (bank transaction records), geology (seismic records and oil deposit mapping), defense (surveillance mapping), astrophysics (catalogs of objects and events) and entertainment (audio and video masters).

Benefits

A huge amount of information can be stored on an HD ROM: on a high-carbon steel cylinder that is approximately 2 millimeters in diameter and 25 millimeters in length, 1 alphanumeric character can be stored per square micron, which translates into the equivalent of two complete sets of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Data stored on the HD ROM will survive for the lifetime of the system; therefore, data transfer and backup to new physical media are no longer required. In comparison with CD-ROMs, which are today's cheapest media, HD ROMs are 200 times less expensive over a 50-year data life cycle.

High-Efficiency Thermal Ionization Cavity Ion Source for Mass Spectrometry

Features

  • Offers 10 to 100 times higher efficiency for thermal ionization: up to 90% efficiency for lanthanides and other easily ionized elements and 1% to 10% efficiency for actinides
  • Can be used on all types of mass spectrometers and separators
  • Decreases analysis time
  • Decreases amount of sample that needs to be analyzed
  • Increases sample throughput
  • Low-cost, disposable crucibles
  • Low power requirements (<120 watts) with high heating efficiency

Applications

Any research area that requires thermal ionization mass spectrometry to measure elemental concentrations and to analyze isotopes:

  • Nuclear chemistry
  • Radiochemistry
  • Geochemistry
  • Environmental analysis
  • Medical research

Benefits

Our cavity ion source enables us to more efficiently use thermal ionization mass spectrometry in measuring elemental concentrations and analyzing isotopes. The ion source can be used with equal or better performance in smaller quadrupole-based mass spectrometers rather than in more-costly and less-user-friendly sector-based mass spectrometers. When used in quadrupole-based mass spectrometers, our ion source will allow analysts to easily meet government certification requirements for the isotopic analyses of actinide contents of soils and waters.
High-Pressure Stopped-Flow Apparatus

Features

The High-Pressure Stopped-Flow Apparatus is the first system that can operate in the range of pressures between 0 and 40 atmospheres. Its delivery speed is less than 1 millisecond. Because of these features, the High-Pressure Stopped-Flow Apparatus enables us to study a broader range of chemical reactions. Our apparatus can also be coupled to various spectroscopic techniques—ultraviolet, visible, Raman and fluorescence—to yield more insight into the molecular dynamics of these reactions. The High-Pressure Stopped-Flow Apparatus is computer controlled and uses readily available software (LabVIEW).

Applications

  • Can be used in both conventional low-pressure and high-pressure stopped-flow experiments
  • Allows the study of reactions between highly concentrated, dissolved gases
  • Allows the study of gas-phase reactions relevant to the automotive and petrochemical industries
  • With an adaptation, will allow the study of reactions that occur in supercritical fluids, a rapidly emerging field of science

Benefits

  • The High-Pressure Stopped-Flow Apparatus successfully fills an existing need by operating in the range of pressures from 0 to 40 atmospheres and thus allowing scientists and engineers to study, for the first time, the mechanistic aspects of numerous chemical reactions. It is also an inexpensive and user-friendly instrument.
  • Our apparatus is versatile and easily adaptable because it can be used with various spectrometers that can readily be interchange.
High-Strength Solenoid Magnet Coil

Features

  • Efficiently and safely supports mechanical loads resulting from extremely high-field-strength, pulsed magnetic fields
  • Long life; engineered design life of 10,000 full-field pulses
  • Allows rapid cooling of electromagnet between pulses
  • Withstands high voltages and cryogenic temperatures
  • Easy to manufacture because of modular design
  • Uses commercially available materials

Applications

  • Extremely high-field-strength, pulsed research electromagnets for solid-state physics and materials research. Can be used to characterize
    • charge mobility of semiconductors under the influence of a magnetic field (specifically, the quantum Hall effect)
    • quenching of superconductors (zero-resistance behavior under magnetic fields)
    • magnetic dipole kinetics of organic electrical conductors
    • magnetic dipole kinetics of chemical reactions (under high-bias magnetic fields)
    • magneto-optical properties (such as photoluminescence) of materials
  • Materials processing in magnetic fields (alignment of composites)
  • Magnetic forming and welding

Benefits

Our High-Strength Solenoid Magnet Coil extends pulsed electromagnet coil technology to new levels of performance, including longer pulse-length duration at higher field intensity. Our novel design not only enhances the capabilities and lifespan of extremely high field, pulsed research magnets, it also reduces risk to personnel and equipment and to valuable research samples within the magnet's coils. Our modular design reduces manufacturing and repair costs.

Laser-Launched Miniflyer

Features

Our Laser-Launched Miniflyer is a unique, miniaturized, bench-top system for experimental shock physics. It uses a laser to propel high-velocity projectiles (miniflyers) into targets and an elaborate diagnostic setup to measure the flyer velocity and interaction with a target material at subnanosecond time scales. This innovation employs equipment that can easily be set up in a university or industrial laboratory.

Applications

Our Laser-Launched miniflyer system conveniently makes dynamic measurements that can be used to obtain high-pressure equation-of-state (EOS) information for either the flyer or the target material. The EOS is a comprehensive description of a material's volume-, pressure-, and temperature-dependent behavior. This information can then be used to develop an accurate EOS description of the material. We have used the miniflyer to measure the spall strength (strength in tension) and the elastic-plastic behavior of materials, important dynamic material properties.

Benefits

The small size of the miniflyer system and the miniflyers themselves has significant benefits in terms of experimental cost, versatility, and sample recovery in shock-wave experiments. Our miniflyer system will increase the availability of shock-wave techniques to universities and industrial laboratories so that more dynamic studies can be made, leading to increased understanding of material properties such as structure, bond strength and composition.

Metallographic Ion Etcher

Features

The MIE is more versatile than competitive commercial ion etchers and eliminates the major drawbacks of electrochemical etching. Large or multiple specimens can be treated at one time in its large etching area. Its water-cooled specimen holder allows high-powered and high-density plasma etching, which minimizes etching time. Its specially designed swing doors to the sample chamber and the configuration of its specimen holder allow easy specimen loading and unloading. A turbo pump and a high-capacity vane pump minimize the down time required for pumping the chamber vacuum.

Applications

Our MIE makes materials analysis much more convenient, efficient and reliable. Examples include

  • quality control and product improvement for parts fabrication
  • failure analysis of damaged components
  • compatibility studies of materials and their operating environments, which may include high or low temperatures and acidic or caustic conditions
  • basic research in materials science to help study phase transformations, develop new alloys and characterize novel material properties

Benefits

Our MIE enables simultaneous etching of dissimilar materials and materials with different histories without using hazardous chemicals or producing hazardous waste. For some composites, it is the only way to etch all materials without damaging one or more in the process. It increases the ease, speed and reliability of material analysis.

Multichannel Transient Detector

Features

The Multichannel Transient Detector can detect very weak electromagnetic transients with higher sensitivity and a lower false alarm rate than possible with other detection schemes. It also permits selective triggering on transients with a characteristic preprogrammed dispersion.

Applications

The detector currently is being used to detect the electromagnetic reflections of lightning and other natural transients off the ionosphere from locations as distant as 2000 kilometers. Developed to detect electromagnetic pulses from nuclear tests, it can also be used to detect local phenomena such as transmission line discharges, automotive ignitions and weapons fire. Detection of transmission line discharges may help power companies locate problems in their power distribution network. Passive detection of automobiles and weapons fire has great potential for law enforcement and military applications.

Benefits

Our detector marks a breakthrough in transient detection capability. Its combination of heightened sensitivity and low false alarm rate makes it a promising technology for monitoring global compliance with nuclear test bans and nonproliferation agreements. It also holds promise as a means of passively monitoring battlefield activities. Its recent discovery of twin pulses of radio energy in the upper atmosphere (referred to as transionospheric pulse pairs, or TIPPs) is facilitating new studies into how the electrical currents that surround the earth influence weather phenomena such as thunderstorms.

NAMOT: Intuitive and Versatile Nucleic Acid Modeling Tool

Features

NAMOT (Nucleic Acid Modeling Tool) is an interactive graphics tool for modeling and manipulating nucleic acid molecules. It can generate both standard structures such as double-stranded antiparallel helices and nonstandard structures such as three- and four-stranded forms, and it can bend standard duplexes into more complex shapes such as closed circles and superhelices. NAMOT is the only molecular modeling program that can directly model structural deformations such as over- or underwinding or the formation of a cavity within a duplex.

NAMOT runs on any computer with UNIX and X-Windows, including PCs, and its user's manual, online help and user-friendly interface make it usable by novice and expert users alike.

Applications

NAMOT's primary applications are in basic research and pharmaceutical design, but it can also be used to design novel nucleic acid structures that may form the basis for innovative new catalysts or nanometer-scale mechanical devices. Because of its user-friendly format, NAMOT can help students visualize nucleic acid molecules and the structural changes that occur during cellular processes such as DNA replication. And finally, because it can selectively color atoms, create space-filling models and rotate those models, it can be used to generate high-quality graphics of nucleic acid molecules.

Benefits

NAMOT is faster, more efficient and easier to use than any other nucleic acid modeling tool. It enables students and researchers alike to visualize nucleic acid molecules in both standard and unusual configurations and to model structural changes. Understanding the molecular mechanisms of basic cellular processes contributes to the body of knowledge that provides the foundation for major advances in medicine.

No-Contamination (No-Con) Gas Sampling System

Features

No-Con is a gas sampling and injection system that allows an analyst to collect a contamination-free gas sample and hold it for analysis at another time and place. A minimal-size sample from the system can be injected cleanly, quickly, and uniformly to a gas chromatograph.

Applications

No-Con can be used to draw out gas samples for analysis from inert atmospheres such as gloveboxes, electronics assembly lines and oxygen-sensitive chemistry enclosures. It is also useful for taking and transporting gas samples from remote locations. No-Con is used for sampling the head space gas from drums of radioactive waste where analysis for low concentrations of oxygen and nitrogen is important.

Benefits

  • Contamination-free gas collection and analysis: The gas sample can be collected and analyzed cleanly and quickly, and the results are accurate and reliable.
  • Cost savings: Sample sizes can be small so that precious process gases will not be wasted. Eliminating air contamination also eliminates the need for on-line gas chromatographs.
  • Aid for radioactive waste management: No-Con's transportability and dependability make it valuable for testing repository performance.
Noninvasive Chemical Concentration Analyzer

Features

The Noninvasive Chemical Concentration Analyzer (NCCA) uses Fourier transform analysis of high-frequency acoustic signals from ultrasonic sensors attached to the outside of a pipe or small tank to determine the concentrations of chemicals contained within. Our analyzer is compact and inexpensive. It consists of a PC, a specialized PC card that generates a swept high-frequency signal and detects system response simultaneously, and two ultrasonic transducers. Fourier transform analysis of the swept high-frequency signal avoids misinterpretations resulting from low-frequency structural responses or moves; thus, the NCCA can be used on any existing container geometry (arbitrary length, diameter up to 2 feet, any thickness, and any cross section) and composition (so long as it transmits high-frequency acoustic signals). Software written for LabWindows provides real-time concentration measurements for a wide variety of chemicals.

Applications

The NCCA can provide process control measurements, quality assurance tests and product measurements for processes in the following industries:

  • Chemical processing and production
  • Petrochemicals
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Agricultural products
  • Personal hygiene products
  • Foods and beverages
  • Photochemicals
  • Nuclear processing

Benefits

For years the chemical processing industry has needed a noninvasive, real-time method to measure the concentration of chemicals in process. In addition to fulfilling this need, the NCCA can be applied externally to existing fluid containers or pipes. By taking concentration measurements without actually contacting the fluid, the NCCA prevents contamination of product streams, reduces or eliminates risks for workers who handle hazardous materials and decreases costs by eliminating the need to cut into the pipe or tank as required by invasive techniques.

Parallel Ocean Program (POP)

Features

Written in Fortran 90, the newest Fortran standard, POP executes efficiently on massively parallel computers as well as on traditional vector computers, workstations and clusters of workstations. Our reformulation of its mathematical equations permits treatment of any number of topographical features at no extra computational cost and eliminates the need for smoothing ocean floor topography. Its large simulation time step reduces computer time by a factor of 2 to 4. It incorporates general curvilinear coordinates to eliminate the need for mathematical filtering techniques that reduce accuracy. POP has been used to carry out the highest-spatial-resolution global ocean simulations made to date.

Applications

  • Oceanographic research—By comparing POP's high-resolution simulations quantitatively with satellite data and in situ measurements, we can increase our understanding of the oceans.
  • Climate modeling—POP is being combined with atmospheric models to produce a comprehensive model of the earth's climate system. The resulting model will capitalize on the power of massively parallel computers.
  • Off-shore petroleum exploration and production—Simulation results from POP are being used by major oil companies to gain a better understanding of the seasonal eddy activity, deep-water phenomena and current-shelf interactions that make their operations in deep water expensive, hazardous to personnel and environmentally risky.

Benefits

By comparing POP simulations with real data, scientists can gain insight into aspects of the ocean that are difficult to observe and develop a unifying framework for their interpretation of data acquired by observation. Ocean dynamics are key factors in global climate change. Coupling POP to atmospheric models that also run on massively parallel computers will provide higher-resolution, hence more realistic, global climate simulations than are possible on other computers. By improving our understanding of ocean currents, POP simulations can help reduce the costs and risks associated with off-shore petroleum exploration and production. They also provide guidance for the optimal location of current meters in regions where exploration is just beginning.

PC/FRAM: Nuclear Material Isotopic Analysis System

Features

PC/FRAM nondestructively determines the isotope fractions of all chemical and physical forms of plutonium, uranium, americium, neptunium and other nuclear materials. It analyzes materials in any type of storage container, including thick-walled and lead-shielded containers, and the container and packaging characteristics do not need to be known beforehand. Superman may not be able to see through lead, but PC/FRAM can.

PC/FRAM includes a self-calibration algorithm that eliminates the need for standards. In addition, it operates on a personal computer through a user-friendly Windows interface and can be quickly reconfigured by even novice users for different applications.

Applications

PC/FRAM can analyze all physical and chemical forms of nuclear materials at any facility where plutonium or uranium is generated, processed, or stored. Such facilities include those for weapons production, storage, and dismantlement and those for reactor fuel fabrication and uranium enrichment. Because PC/FRAM can analyze materials in shielded containers, dismantled weapons components can be analyzed without compromising their classified designs.

PC/FRAM can also be used by manufacturers of radiopharmaceuticals and radiolabelled markers to monitor quality control at considerable time and cost savings over traditional chemical and isotopic analysis methods.

Benefits

  • Enables national and international inspectors to audit nuclear materials at storage or processing facilities under inspection regimes
  • Supports compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty by ensuring that declared nuclear materials are properly identified, measured and inventoried
  • Minimizes material handling, reducing worker radiation exposures and the potential for environmental contamination
PEGASUS: Analysis System for Engineering and Physics Models

Features

  • Allows rapid viewing of computer models and data
  • Rapidly and efficiently processes output from virtually any type of numerical simulation or experiment
  • Accommodates a wide range of data formats, including one-, two- and three-dimensional spatial grids, regular or random data and time-dependent data
  • Selects arbitrary subsets of data, transforms data, and compares different simulations or a simulation with an experiment
  • Has powerful, built-in numerical analysis capabilities, such as averaging, frequency transforms, filtering and algebraic operations on combinations of variables
  • Uses same interface for all calculations and is therefore extremely easy to use

Applications

PEGASUS, a general-purpose software system, is used to display, edit, and analyze output from many types of numerical simulations. It is currently used in modeling and simulation studies associated with three major Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) entered into by Los Alamos National Laboratory and private industry. It is also used for a broad range of models, including fluid dynamics, solid dynamics, stress analysis, plasma physics, electromagnetic-wave propagation and Monte Carlo particle transport.

Benefits

PEGASUS provides all the basic features of commercial graphics packages, spreadsheets, and data analysis programs, but adds to them a number of additional capabilities that are especially useful for scientific and engineering calculations: a common interface for all types of calculations, efficiency in processing very large data sets, ability to compare different types of data, sophisticated numerical analysis capabilities and ease of use. With PEGASUS, users are able to analyze the same calculation from many different angles and thus acquire in-depth understanding of the results.

popLA (preferred orientation package-Los Alamos)

Features

A user-friendly software package, popLA (preferred orientation package-Los Alamos) provides a comprehensive treatment of material texture analysis by reducing texture data obtained from x-ray, neutron, and electron diffraction and using that data to predict important material properties. The distribution of crystal orientation, or texture, in polycrystalline materials is calculated and displayed using a wide variety of graphic formats for comparison with published results. Once distributions have been determined, standard methods are used to predict material elasticity, yield point and plasticity-mechanical properties that are used by industry to design and control efficient metal and ceramic processing techniques.

Applications

  • Precisely controls the quality of metal-forming processes
  • Predicts the yield from elastic to plastic behavior of mechanical components
  • Tailors material properties for specific applications through quantitative predictions of texture-dependent mechanical properties
  • Serves as a research tool for investigating microstructure-property relationships in materials

Benefits

Our software package provides increased sensitivity for modeling materials processing with enhanced property-prediction capabilities. Its simplified data analysis saves time and requires a less knowledgeable operator. Its capabilities for predicting the full range of material response have already found economically important applications in industry because they take the trial and error out of material processing.

Rapid Kinetics Flow Cytometer

Features

The Rapid Kinetics Flow Cytometer combines the subsecond kinetic resolution of stopped-flow mixing technology with the ability of flow cytometry to make sensitive fluorescence measurements of individual cells. Our new instrument precisely controls reagent proportioning and mixing, delivering a sample stream to the point of measurement in 0.3 second. It thus enables direct measurement of previously inaccessible cellular events, such as the rapid binding of peptide, hormone, and carbohydrate ligands to their cell-surface receptors.

Applications

  • Pharmaceutical research—The rapid mixing capabilities of our new instrument will allow binding measurements of low-affinity ligands, an important capability for characterizing new drugs.
  • Basic research in cell biology—Our instrument's combination of precise reagent mixing and subsecond kinetic resolution will facilitate new studies in cell biology involving the reorganization of cell and membrane structures.
  • Medical diagnostics—Current technologies allow diseases to be diagnosed on the basis of cellular features such as surface markers or DNA content. Our new instrument enables direct measurement of the enzymes responsible for such cell features, which may prove to be an earlier and more sensitive predictor of disease and disease states than markers based on gross cellular features.

Benefits

The Rapid Kinetics Flow Cytometer opens an experimental window on the molecular events underlying cell function. Our instrument's ability to measure such fast processes not only makes it a basic research tool for cell biologists but also offers a new approach for diagnostic techniques based on molecular function. Its kinetic analysis of cell function will complement or replace methods that measure only static cellular characteristics.

Safe, Clean Disposal Process for Propellants, Explosives and Pyrotechnics (PEPs)

Features

Our two-step disposal process combines base hydrolysis with supercritical water oxidation to destroy obsolete, off-spec, or surplus PEPs in an environmentally conscious manner. The process significantly reduces the safety risks associated with destroying energetic materials, and the final waste products can be safely released to the environment. Our disposal process is economically competitive with its alternatives.

Applications

Our disposal process can be used to destroy nearly all energetic materials—explosives (both industrial and military), munitions, warhead components, rockets and propellants. The process can also remove energetic debris from soil and from machinery or equipment used to process PEPs.

Benefits

In the past, PEPs have been destroyed by means of detonation and/or open burning, practices that have come under increasing scrutiny for their human risks and environmental consequences. Several states have banned them and others are considering bans. Our technology offers a safe, environmentally clean alternative. With the dismantlement of weapons under way both in the United States and abroad, large volumes of energetic materials will have to be disposed of; our new technology offers a safe, clean and inexpensive disposal process.

Sonication Extraction Standard Laboratory Module (SLM)

Features

The Sonication Extraction SLM is a standardized instrument for automating soil sample analysis as specified by requirements of the Environmental Protection Agency for organic analyte sample preparation. It will be used to extract contaminants such as semivolatile organics like PCBs from soil samples and filter media. This SLM can be either operated in a stand-alone mode or integrated with other SLMs to automate a full analytical method in a standardized fashion. The Sonication Extraction SLM provides accurate data and facilitates rapid sample analysis. It is user friendly and has been hardened for transportation and operation at remote sites.

Applications

The primary use of the Sonication Extraction SLM is to prepare solid samples like soil for analysis by gas chromatography. It can be readily integrated into larger, standardized contamination analysis systems that have been designed to execute regulated EPA methods.

Benefits

The Sonication Extraction SLM is more precise and safer than conventional extraction methods and increases laboratory throughput by automating activities traditionally performed manually by a chemical technician. It improves the quality of characterization data by improving the consistency and accuracy of the sample preparation and analysis procedures and does not require constant monitoring.

TeleMed

Features

  • Intuitive, graphical patient-record system
  • Supports image, audio, and graphical data
  • Integrates complete patient records with detailed radiographic data
  • Allows remote sharing of patient and radiological data while guaranteeing secure transmission of patient data over networks
  • Improves clinical diagnosis and treatment of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis and other chronic diseases
  • Reduces cost of health care

Applications

Although TeleMed was designed initially for the study and treatment of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, it is readily adapted to a variety of chronic illnesses because of its capability of providing, at a glance, the long-term treatment history of patients. Because of its ease of use and its ability to capture the knowledge base for specific illnesses, it could also be used in training physicians and radiologists to analyze specific diseases. In addition, the underlying technology could be adapted to hazardous waste systems that handle large amounts of data over networks.

Benefits

TeleMed will greatly increase the effectiveness of primary-care physicians in treating chronic illnesses and will improve the physicians' access to expert consultation. In addition, TeleMed can reduce treatment costs by eliminating the time-consuming and costly activity of data gathering. Because TeleMed is based on open tools that are used by a broad base of industry, the costs for the deployment of our software will be low.

Time-Interval Interpolator Integrated Circuit

Features

Our time-interval interpolator is an integrated circuit (IC) that subdivides a conventional 100-megahertz clock period into 1000 subintervals for time measurements with 10-picosecond resolution. This IC is a sophisticated combination of high-bandwidth, low-noise analog circuitry and high-speed, low-power digital circuitry. To expand the reference clock cycle, we use a dual-slope technique where a capacitor is rapidly charged at a high current to measure the subintervals, and then discharged at a much lower current to expand and count the subintervals.

Applications

Our IC has been used in high-resolution timing measurement and ultrafast, real-time waveform recorders, all of which increase the resolution and sensitivity of the following applications:

  • precision timing measurements for digital-electronics logic-testing and trigger systems
  • real-time waveform recorders for ultrafast, smooth signals
  • material science for nondestructive testing using acoustic time-of-flight measurements
  • earth science for precision monitoring of plate tectonics and earthquake fault slippage
  • space science for satellite ranging

The largest near-term impact of this invention could be in the semiconductor manufacturing market. The IC can be used to evaluate the performance of state-of-the-art high-speed computer-processing electronics in which the timing of ultrashort electric pulses must be precise to ensure accurate computations.

Benefits

Our Time Interval Interpolator IC is a compact, low-power integrated circuit that reliably, accurately, and inexpensively makes real-time measurements at picosecond time scales. Our patented comparator circuit is used to stabilize the time-interval base-line voltage, which increases accuracy and speed. The chip's output can also be monitored and corrected for interpolation errors, a capability that commercial time-interval expansion meters do not have. The start/stop reproducibility is 4-7 times greater than that of competitive systems, and the uniformity error is less than half that of competitive systems. The low-cost, low-power requirements and small size of our interpolator chip will enable its widespread use in high-resolution timing measurement and trigger devices.

Tomographic Gamma-Ray Scanner (TGS) for Measuring Radioactive Waste

Features

The TGS is a nondestructive assay device for measuring an unlimited range of gamma-ray-emitting materials stored in sealed containers. It accounts for nonuniform distributions and provides a computer-generated reconstruction of the contents of a radioactive waste container.

Applications

  • Nondestructive assay of gamma-ray-emitting radionuclides in nonuniform waste stored in sealed containers
  • Location of gamma-ray-emitting materials inside sealed waste containers to facilitate repackaging
  • Categorization of nuclear waste according to security and waste-acceptance criteria

Benefits

The TGS not only reduces the cost of nuclear materials safeguards and radioactive waste disposal efforts but also leads to a reduction in personnel exposure to radiation during waste repackaging. It complements existing nondestructive assay technologies while overcoming some of their limitations. It is highly accurate even for large and/or dense containers. Finally, it is conducive to planned mobile applications and can be incorporated into hybrid and expert systems that tailor assay protocols to handle data from various sources.

Ultrasensitive Electrophoresis System

Features

The Ultrasensitive Electrophoresis System takes an enormous leap in the capabilities of analytical instruments—it is faster, easier to use, more versatile, and more than 1000 times more sensitive than comparable instruments. Developed for biochemical analyses, it can detect and identify a wide variety of both organic and inorganic molecules at very low concentrations. Our system can simultaneously analyze molecules with opposite charges, and it can detect virtually any molecule that migrates in a charged field and that fluoresces or can be labeled with a fluorescent tag.

Applications

Our system's rapid, continuous and ultrasensitive detection and identification capabilities open the door to a wide range of applications in many areas of science and technology:

  • Medical diagnostics and research
  • Molecular biology
  • Forensics
  • Environmental monitoring
  • Quality control in pharmaceutical production and food processing

Benefits

The Ultrasensitive Electrophoresis System's ability to detect and identify single molecules of specific proteins or nucleic acid sequences in dilute solutions may revolutionize health care by making it possible for physicians to diagnose infections, genetic disorders and even some tumors much earlier than previously possible.

R&D Winner = Winner


Innovations for a secure nation

Novel rocket design flight tested

Novel rocket design flight tested

The new rocket fuel and motor design adds a higher degree of safety by separating the fuel from the oxidizer, both novel formulations that are, by themselves, not able to detonate.

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