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Delivering science and technology to protect our nation and promote world stability
LANL

1996 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 WinnerPLASMAX: Plasma Mechanical Cleaner for Silicon Wafers

Features

PLASMAX combines a plasma with mechanical vibration to be the first in situ, dry, noncontact process for removing particulate contamination from silicon wafers. It can clean wafers inside a plasma chamber even between the individual steps of the plasma process. PLASMAX leaves the surface of materials undamaged, uses inert gases and no solvents, and releases nonpolluting byproducts. Moreover, it is effective, energy efficient, fast and inexpensive.

Applications

PLASMAX is designed for cleaning particulate contamination from wafers during the fabrication of integrated circuits. It can also be used for reclaiming blank silicon wafers widely used to test equipment cleanliness; currently such wafers are discarded at losses of tens of millions of dollars. With PLASMAX, we can also clean magnetic storage disks and decontaminate radioactive dust from instruments and weapons. In the future, our process will be used for cleaning compact disks, flat panel displays, medical instruments, and optical components.

Benefits

  • Allows dry, in situ, noncontact cleaning of silicon wafers during multistep plasma processes
  • Enables engineers to develop new plasma process steps essential to producing advanced chips but too "dirty" to be considered in the absence of a suitable cleaning method
  • Cleans, in seconds, the whole surface of a wafer regardless of its size, during one cleaning step; prevents contaminating particles from redepositing
  • Supports pollution-free manufacturing and, at the same time, increases productivity
  • Uses a flux of ions and electrons to drive the removal of particles, the same method used for etching fine device features, and is thus eminently suited for cleaning such features
  • Reduces integrated-circuit manufacturing costs because the cleaning tool retrofits to processing chambers and requires no additional clean-room space or deionized water
R&D WinnerTransportable Remote Analyzer for Characterization and Environmental Remediation (TRACER)

Features

  • Only method that provides remote elemental analysis of solids and liquids using a compact, movable probe
  • Measurements can be performed in the field
  • Measurement times are less than 1 minute per sample
  • Automated operation
  • Direct measurement capability reduces analysis times and costs by more than 200 times compared with laboratory analysis

Applications

  • Rapid determination of toxic and hazardous materials in the environment
  • Analysis of materials in locations to which access is restricted (e.g., down a borehole or in a pipe or glovebox)
  • Rapid screening of toxic materials in soils at contaminated locations (e.g., Superfund sites)
  • Characterization and monitoring of decommissioning and decontamination activities at facilities such as chemical plants, plating operations and nuclear power plants
  • Can be used by the mining industry to locate high-yield ore bodies for prospecting, to increase the selectivity of extractive mining and for process control
  • Can be used onboard robotic systems to survey hazardous environments
  • Evaluating the condition of the national infrastructure (i.e., bridges, railways, and buildings) based on parameters such as corrosion, protective coatings and metal embrittlement

Benefits

  • Measurements can be carried out in the field, thereby providing rapid and immediate determination of the presence of toxic materials.
  • Measurements can be carried out remotely, many tens of feet from the main instrument, and materials for which access may be restricted can be analyzed.
  • Instrument does not require a highly skilled operator.
  • Materials can be analyzed in situ, without transport of collected samples back to an analytical laboratory, thereby minimizing the time and costs associated with conventional laboratory analysis.
  • Remote analysis minimizes the exposure of workers to harmful materials.
Advanced Laser-Driven Fuel Ignitor

Features

Across the globe the most common method used to ignite fuel in jet engines is capacitive discharge ignition. It ignites fuel only at the wall of the combustion chamber, a process that results in less than optimal engine performance and a fuel-rich environment (a costly effect because not all the fuel is used). The Advanced Laser-Driven Fuel Ignitor overcomes engine performance limitations by controlling in an optimal manner the energy delivery to the fuel medium. The ignition takes place within the optimum zone of a gas turbine engine combustion chamber, thereby yielding leaner fuel-air mixtures. Moreover, it does not use an ignition plug, thereby increasing by 80 fold the mean time between unscheduled removals.

Applications

  • Igniting fuel in military and commercial gas turbine engines used in aircraft
  • Igniting and stabilizing the flame of gas-fired turbine engines used for ground-based electrical power generation
  • Pumping oil and gas
  • Enabling spin-offs applicable to the medical and laser-cutting and machining industries
  • Initiating combustion within internal combustion engines that use diesel or gasoline fuels

Benefits

The Fuel Ignitor has the potential to

  • eliminate in-flight shutdowns, delays and cancellations, and unscheduled removals of ignition components
  • enable reliable relight at altitudes in excess of 45,000 feet, thereby permitting longer range and more economical flights
  • enable earlier intervention in the relight process, thereby enhancing engine reliability and safety
  • reduce pollutants in engine exhaust, significantly decreasing the environmental effects caused by aircraft traffic
Bubble Chamber Spectroscopy for Trace Chemical Detection

Features

Bubble chamber spectroscopy, a new form of light absorption spectroscopy,

  • measures extremely small quantities of chemicals in very dilute solution
  • uses the "amplification" property of a superheated solvent to detect a target molecule's absorption of laser light
  • detects molecules through absorbed wavelengths of light
  • provides sensitivity 10 times greater than other optical absorption methods

Applications

Bubble chamber spectroscopy was developed for trace chemical analysis. It provides increased sensitivity in measurements made for performing environmental monitoring; improving forensics; and providing quality assurance in the production of pharmaceuticals, processed foods and ultrapure solvent for the semiconductor industry.

Benefits

Bubble chamber spectroscopy is applicable to molecules in solution. Many techniques-mass spectrometry, e.g., become overloaded when presented with part-per-trillion dilutions. This new technique will detect molecules by their absorption of light. It is applicable to a wide variety of molecules because light absorption is a general process. It does not rely on a special property like fluorescence. Finally, it has been used to detect molecules dissolved in liquid propane solvent, a nontoxic, organic solvent that evaporates cleanly when finished, leaving no liquid waste.

Diamond-Window Optical Cell for Fluid Monitoring

Features

  • Provides visual monitoring of phase behavior in fluids under high-temperature/high-pressure conditions
  • Isolates single-phase regions in multiphase fluid streams
  • Derives accurate density readings from refractive index measurements
  • Replaces slow, problematic autoclave methods with a fast, easy optical technique

Applications

The Diamond-Window Optical Cell is especially useful for hydrothermal systems, which have temperatures and pressures exceeding water's critical point. The cell allows an operator to directly observe phase behavior and determine phase boundaries in fluids, providing a quick way to measure refractive index and density in single-phase regions. Until now, density measurements under hydrothermal conditions were done with an autoclave, a method that is so time-consuming that full characterization of aqueous wastes destined for hydrothermal treatment has not been completed. It provides the vital data that enables development of hydrothermal treatment for a wide range of complex wastes, and it is the right on-the-job monitoring device for fluid-waste treatment systems with frequently changing feeds. The Diamond-Window Optical Cell is not limited to hydrothermal systems; it works equally well at lower temperatures and pressures and on any optically transparent fluid.

Benefits

  • Rapid characterization of fluids destined for hydrothermal treatment
  • Development of hydrothermal and nonwater-based treatment systems
  • Easy-to-operate, real-time monitoring for working systems
  • Remediation of complex military and industrial wastes, reducing them to benign products
Distributed-Data Imaging System

Features

  • Merges eight separate data streams to create seamless process simulations (no gaps or bars) with a workstation cluster
  • Produces high-resolution, near-real-time, animated visualizations with adjustable display tiles and color rendition dependable enough to pinpoint specific numerical regions
  • Uses commodity parts to achieve supercomputer quality at desktop prices

Applications:

Replacing supercomputers with linked workstations wherever affordable, high-quality, visualizations are needed.

  • Scientific studies at supercomputer centers:
    • Weather and ocean current modeling
    • Topological and seismic modeling
    • Chemical reaction and biological process modeling
    • Power generation modeling
    • Hydrodynamic modeling (fluids/flow simulation)
  • Product and service development in private industry:
    • Creation of movie and video special effects
    • Discovery of oil, gas and mineral deposits through seismic modeling
    • Development of new drugs through pharmacological modeling
    • Refinement of airplane, ship and automobile designs through hydrodynamic modeling
    • Innovation in engine design through combustion modeling
    • Improvement of airline scheduling and freeway design through traffic flow modeling
    • Provision of investment services through financial modeling

Benefits

The Distributed-Data Imaging System is the first visualization system to blend separately generated graphical data streams into a near-real-time moving image as good as one coming from a single dedicated supercomputer. The data bandwidths of eight linked workstations are merged to build a single data stream that delivers high-speed transmission, high resolution, high frame rate and excellent color rendition. Our system makes supercomputer visualization affordable without the expense of a supercomputer.

Electrolytic Decontamination of Oralloy

Features

Without producing any primary waste stream, our electrolytic decontamination process quickly cleans oralloy hemishells from dismantled nuclear weapons to the levels of swipable alpha activity required for transporting and storing them. With the process, we have reduced plutonium and americium contamination by more than 6 orders of magnitude. We have also demonstrated the viability of this technique for decontaminating radioactive-material containers in order to remove them from gloveboxes and for decontaminating gloveboxes.

Applications

  • Decontaminating the oralloy hemishells of nuclear weapons for safe disposition
  • Decontaminating radioactive-material containers (cans) for removal from gloveboxes
  • Decontaminating gloveboxes for in situ reuse, recycle or disposal as low-level waste

Benefits

Electrolytic decontamination of oralloy for nuclear weapons dismantlement is now the baseline technology in the Department of Energy (DOE) nuclear weapons complex. Because it removes the plutonium and americium contamination from oralloy hemishells without producing any primary waste stream, this technology is also attractive for use in other countries. It is a key enabling technology for reducing the global nuclear threat. It also offers a safer, more effective means of cleaning radioactive storage cans in order to remove them from gloveboxes and of decontaminating the gloveboxes themselves. It minimizes the waste produced in cleaning cans and could save millions of dollars in future disposal costs for surplus gloveboxes.

Falcon: Advanced Reservoir Simulation Software

Features

  • The first production-quality oil reservoir simulator to harness the power of high-end parallel computer technology
  • 100 times faster than its competitors
  • High-accuracy modeling of large, economically important oil fields in their entirety
  • Quantitative assessment of predictive variability resulting from inconclusive geological data
  • Enables best- and worst-case economic analyses of oil and gas fields
  • Calculates "what-if" operational scenarios for reservoirs

Applications

  • Decision-making in formulating oil recovery strategies and schedules
  • Planning of facilities at production sites
  • Accurately appraising property for making leasing decisions for oil fields
  • Developing long-term economic strategies for oil recovery
  • Simulating underground pollutant dispersion

Benefits

Falcon makes it feasible for the first time to perform detailed simulations of large oil fields, which account for over half of the world's oil production. Worldwide, reservoirs produce 70 million barrels of crude oil per day. Of this production, 40 million barrels are from huge fields that cannot be modeled with present-day computer simulation software. With Falcon, it is now practical to model these fields. In addition, Falcon represents a paradigm shift in how the oil and gas industry predicts future revenues from their properties. Current reservoir models give one prediction of oil production that contains inaccuracies. With this single answer, decision-makers cannot assess any risk in their billion dollar decisions. Falcon, however, quantifies probabilistic limits of simulation predictions for the first time.

Flexible Superconducting Tape

Features

Our Flexible Superconducting Tape is a major advance in superconductors that operate at liquid-nitrogen temperature: it can be wound on a tight radius (about 13 millimeters) with no loss of superconductivity, and it can carry high currents (about 20 amperes) in the presence of a high magnetic field (2 teslas) oriented to produce the greatest loss of superconductivity. We have achieved these results by depositing highly crystalline films of superconducting material onto strong flexible metal tape that is commercially available. In the absence of an external magnetic field, this crystalline film can carry current densities of 2.4 million amperes per square centimeter.

Applications

Because the Flexible Superconducting Tape carries high supercurrents when cooled with inexpensive liquid nitrogen and is physically flexible, it can replace the resistive wire now used in many electrical applications. Power applications include power transmission lines, magnetic energy storage devices, fault current limiters, motors, generators, transformers and magnetic separators.

Our tape can also be used in current leads, small elements with low thermal conductivity that conduct electricity from components at room temperature to components at liquid-helium temperature. Equally important, the Flexible Superconducting Tape can be used to produce high-efficiency magnetic coils for medical applications such as magnetic resonance imaging and to manufacture microwave cavities for digital communications and particle accelerators.

Benefits

Our tape has the flexibility and can carry the currents required to replace resistive wire in most electrical applications. Because electrical current heats resistive wire, wasting energy, Flexible Superconducting Tape will increase the electrical efficiency of any application in which it is used.

Flow-Through Ion Gun

Features

The Flow-Through Ion Gun is a new type of tool that can clean surfaces or deposit thin films of many different kinds of elements and chemical compounds onto both conducting and insulating surfaces. By cleaning surfaces just before deposition, the gun can produce thin films with superior adhesion. It can also deposit thin films up to 2 to 10 times faster than by normal deposition methods. Thin films produced with our gun are up to 10 times smoother than those produced with other guns. Our gun can also produce thin films that have highly oriented crystalline structures.

Applications

The Flow-Through Ion Gun can apply thin-film coatings to parts used in the automotive, aerospace, and aircraft industries. Our gun can also be used in various cleaning and coating processes in the semiconductor industry.

Benefits

Existing coating applications will benefit from the improved-wear characteristics resulting from the stronger thin-film adhesion that our gun produces. The superior adhesion of thin films deposited with our gun will also open up new possibilities in coating technology, including decorative coatings and coatings on jewelry, without producing chemical wastes requiring treatment, as is presently the case in the electroplating industry.

The higher deposition rates possible with the Flow-Through Ion Gun will allow more manufactured parts to be coated per hour, which will decrease coating costs. Higher deposition rates will also reduce the time and cost required to make semiconductor devices. The smoother thin films produced by our gun have superior properties that will increase the quality and value of coated parts or semiconductor devices.

Coating machine tools and jet-engine parts with the highly aligned crystalline thin films that can be deposited with our gun would improve their longevity and performance.

Light Applique System Technique (LAST)™ Armor

Features

  • Light weight—approximately 50 percent lighter than equivalent steel armor
  • Modular design—tiles are seamlessly bonded together into larger panels
  • Easy to install—use of hook-and-loop techniques allows installation of modular panels in a C-141 aircraft in about 1 to 2 hours
  • Easy to repair—individual bullet-damaged, 4-inch-square tiles can be easily replaced
  • Provides complete protection from the 7.62 Ç 54R Soviet light-machine-gun bullet as well as other small-arms fire such as the 5.56 AP, Soviet AK-47, and the NATO 7.62 AP (all at muzzle velocity)

Applications

The LAST Armor was initially designed to protect the cockpit crew of the US Air Force C-141 Starlifter transport aircraft during flight operations into areas of low-intensity conflict. The armor is currently being adapted to the C-17 and C-130 aircraft for the same purpose. Other potential applications for the armor include

  • counter panels in banks and convenience stores to protect tellers and clerks
  • door and floor panels in police cruisers to protect law enforcement personnel
  • protection of critical electronic and hydraulic systems and crew members from catastrophic engine failure in commercial airliners
  • body armor to protect diplomats and business people

Benefits

Without the LAST Armor, C-141 aircraft on peacekeeping missions are vulnerable to small-arms fire that can cripple or eliminate them. In addition, the armor provides affordable, lightweight protection to people in all walks of life who are at risk from small-arms attack.

Note: LAST is a registered trademark of LAST Armor, Inc.

Micro-Atmospheric Measurement System ( µ-AMS)

Features

The Micro-Atmospheric Measurement System (µ-AMS) monitors airborne concentrations and size distributions of aerosol emissions as a function of position and time. It not only measures the total mass of particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter, but also collects and sorts 0.1- to 10-micrometer-diameter particles, providing real-time data on eight particle size channels. Collected aerosols are then available for later analysis to determine their composition and emission sources. It also measures atmospheric temperature and humidity as a function of position and time. A lightweight (13 pounds), compact and self-contained suite of sensors, the µ-AMS can be deployed aboard a remotely piloted vehicle (RPV) or other mobile platform. Data are radioed to a ground control operator, allowing the operator to maneuver the RPV in order to track an emission plume in real time.

Applications

  • Monitoring airborne aerosol concentrations at site boundaries of multistack industrial plants
  • Determining concentration and source of aerosols present in an urban airshed (such as the air mass over the Los Angeles basin) in real time
  • Measuring aerosol emissions from diffuse sources, such as hazardous-waste storage sites or land undergoing environmental remediation
  • Tracking hazardous emission plumes as part of an emergency response system
  • Collecting emission data required to develop plume transport models

Benefits:

The µ-AMS is the only system of its kind that can be deployed aboard small, mobile platforms to monitor and collect atmospheric aerosol emissions. By providing real-time monitoring of airborne emissions, the µ-AMS makes possible more thorough monitoring of industrial emissions and real-time tracking of inadvertent releases of hazardous aerosols. Mounted on an RPV, the µ-AMS is a versatile, cost-effective means of monitoring airborne emissions. Conversely, the advent of a lightweight instrument like the µ-AMS opens markets for the RPV, a newly affordable technology itself.

Multiresolution Seamless Image Database (MrSID)

Features

MrSID is a set of cross-platform software applications that compress large images and image databases. Based on the discrete wavelet transform (DWT) image-compression technology, MrSID allows fast transmission and viewing of massive images in a seamless manner and at multiple resolutions. For the first time, the user can decompress only a specific portion of interest from the larger compressed image. Depending on color depth and image content, MrSID achieves high compression ratios-from 25:1 for 8-bit gray-scale images to 100:1 for multispectral images-without perceptual loss of image quality.

Applications

Originally developed for use in geographic information systems, MrSID now has the potential for much wider applications. It can be used as an efficient method for storing and retrieving photographic archives; it can store and retrieve satellite data for consumer games and educational CD-ROMs; and it is well suited for use in vehicle navigation systems. Moreover, MrSID holds promise for being used in image compression and editing for desktop publishing and nonlinear digital video software.

Benefits

Although it must compete with numerous software packages, some of which have already become industry standards, MrSID will be the software of choice for applications in which interface standardization is less important than the features our product offers. The following are the most important benefits that MrSID brings to the market:

  • seamless, multiresolution viewing of large images
  • memory-efficient storage and transmittal of information
  • capability to decompress a specific portion of the larger compressed representation
  • wide public access to geographic information via the internet
Palladium Membrane Reactor

Features

The Palladium Membrane Reactor generates ultrapure hydrogen from water and methane in a single step, overcoming the thermodynamic limitations of conventional multistage production processes. It can also be used to recover tritium (a radioactive isotope of hydrogen) from water and methane with extremely high efficiencies.

Applications

The Palladium Membrane Reactor is being used to recover tritium from radioactive waste water that has accumulated in the nation's weapons complex, decontaminating the water in the recovery process. It has been selected as the technology for recovering tritium from exhaust from the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor. It holds promise as a much more efficient means of generating hydrogen for industrial chemical synthesis, such as the production of ammonia for fertilizers.

Benefits

For radioactive waste processing, the Palladium Membrane Reactor replaces traditional methods that produce secondary radioactive waste with a direct process that produces no concomitant waste. In the fusion fuel cycle, it will process fusion reactor exhaust in a once-through, direct method that avoids the expensive and hazardous holding tanks for radioactive gases associated with other methods. For producing industrial hydrogen, it will replace seven traditional methane-steam reforming steps with a single step.

PC-GSAS: Crystal Structure Analysis Software for the Personal Computer

Features

PC-GSAS, a full-featured crystallographic analysis system for the personal computer (PC) or laptop,

  • performs simultaneous analysis of single- and polycrystal (powder) diffraction data from both x-ray and neutron sources
  • makes visualization easy with integrated graphical display routines
  • offers quantitative texture analysis
  • makes all functions quickly accessible with a multilevel, menu-driven interface

Applications

This new software allows laboratory users of IBM-compatible PCs to determine crystal structures and crystalline properties from multiple sets of x-ray and neutron diffraction data. PC-GSAS is important to researchers in essentially any field in which properties of molecular and crystal structure are of interest.

Benefits

  • Crystal structure analysis on convenient, inexpensive computers
  • User-friendly interface for easy mastery of all functions
  • Combination of data-analysis tools with word processing, spreadsheet generation and graphical presentation on a single computer
Plume-in-a-Box: An Emergency Response Trainer

Features

Plume-in-a-Box is the first emergency response trainer to simulate instrument response to any hazardous release into the environment. Connected to the Global Positioning System (GPS), our training tool can be used anywhere in the world to simulate emergencies to which trainees must respond appropriately and within realistic periods of time. Our prototype has been fully tested in the field, and our final product is ready for commercialization.

Applications

Plume-in-a-Box is primarily used to simulate environmental releases of radioactive materials to which trainees must respond. Other possible exercises include simulations of transportation accidents involving hazardous waste of any type (not only radioactive) and industrial accidents such as those that can occur in chemical production facilities. In the near future, our system will provide instrument results for airborne plume concentrations in simulated emergencies such as accidental releases from nuclear weapons factories.

Benefits

  • Simulates any hazardous release into the environment
  • Introduces high level of realism into emergency training exercises
  • Instantaneously provides trainees with consistent data
  • Requires fewer people to control an exercise because the system is interactive--the exercise controllers are queried by the specially designed software
  • Is lightweight and fully waterproof--therefore portable and suited for use outdoors under any weather conditions
  • Can be used anywhere in the world because it accesses the GPS
Predictive Code for Superplastic Forming

Features

Based on a finite element method incorporating constitutive relations that describe the material properties of specific metals, the Predictive Code for Superplastic Forming (SPF) predicts optimal pressure schedules, overall forming time, and final thickness distribution before a partês forming process begins. Our code takes the guesswork out of the industrial SPF process.

Applications

The Predictive Code allows the SPF process to be used for

  • manufacturing complex aircraft parts, especially those made of titanium alloys
  • producing aluminum chassis for the next-generation cars
  • manufacturing jet turbine blades from super alloys, such as Inconel 718
  • near-net-shape manufacturing of future nuclear weapons parts

Under a cooperative research and development agreement with Flameco Plant, we successfully developed our code and then applied it to the SPF process used in the manufacture of aircraft parts.

Benefits

The SPF process optimized by our code results in faster and cheaper manufacture of aerospace parts with complex geometries. At Flameco, our Predictive Code enables manufacture of perfect parts the first time, every time, and with each new design.

Quick-Flip Locator for Micromachining

Features

The Quick-Flip Locator enables precision machining of complex miniature parts. The locator snaps onto a magnetic chuck with a positioning error of less than 0.25 micrometer and can hold millimeter-size geometrically shaped parts. For multistep fabrication, the part travels in the locator from one machine to another or is flipped on a single tool to allow machining of both sides. The part does not have to be relocated between machining operations. Machining accuracy with the locator is 100 times greater than with conventional part holders.

Applications

  • Machining 1- to 2-millimeter-diameter beryllium hemishells to precise tolerances
  • When joined, the shells will form laser targets for the Department of Energy's inertial confinement fusion program
  • Diamond-turning small optics on both sides precisely and without damage caused by accidentally touching a surface during fabrication
  • Machining components for nanotechnologies (small motors, machines, and assemblies)
  • Accurate two-sided machining of large parts, such as laser optics or silicon wafers

Benefits

The Quick-Flip Locator holds millimeter-size parts for multistep machining that must be done to submicrometer tolerances. It not only enables both sides of a part to be machined to an accuracy of 0.25 micrometer, but also speeds the fabrication process by eliminating time-consuming machine tool realignment and part setup between fabrication steps. On small parts requiring multiple machining steps, for which setup and inspection time account for a large fraction of the total cost, our Quick-Flip Locator offers significant savings.

Sliding-Arc UV Flashlamp

Features

Our Sliding-Arc UV Flashlamp produces ultraviolet light with a wavelength of 240 to 340 nanometers at a flash intensity of 1 joule per square centimeter. Light of this intensity can crystallize the silicon used in the liquid-crystal displays of laptop computers and thereby increase the brightness of the display. Our flashlamp produces ultraviolet light with a uniformity of ±5 percent over an area of 15 centimeters by 15 centimeters and should be able to process an entire liquid-crystal display in one flash. In addition, our flashlamp uses only metal and glass or ceramic components in the region where the flash is produced; this eliminates the possibility of carbon contaminants on the processed surface.

Applications

Our flashlamp can be used to crystallize the amorphous silicon in liquid-crystal displays, activate the phosphor in electroluminescent displays, produce atomic oxygen for removing (ashing) the photoresist used to fabricate semiconductors, perform UV-assisted chemical-vapor deposition of thin films at low temperatures for semiconductors, break down hazardous materials in liquid-waste streams and prepare polymer surfaces for better adhesion of thin films deposited on them.

Benefits

Liquid-crystal displays—By crystallizing the amorphous silicon in the circuits of these displays, our flashlamp can increase the speeds of the circuits by factors of 100 to 800 (faster circuits produce brighter displays) and will allow the circuits to be placed directly on the glass substrate to reduce costs.

Electroluminescent displays—At present these displays require expensive glass that can withstand the high temperatures required to activate their phosphors. However, our flashlamp should be able to activate phosphor on substrates at room temperature, permitting the use of low-cost substrates. This could make electroluminescent displays competitive with liquid-crystal displays in existing applications and an attractive choice for high-definition television applications.

Solid-State Electrochemical Carbon Monoxide Sensor

Features

Our solid-state electrochemical sensor uniquely combines high sensitivity, fast response, and durability in detecting dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. It can detect 1 part per million of CO in air in less than 60 seconds at 600 degrees Centigrade, and it returns to baseline (that is, to preexposure steady-state conditions) within minutes once the gas is removed. This rapid and reliable return to baseline means that it will sound few false alarms. Because it operates at elevated temperatures (400 to 700 degrees Centigrade), our sensor is also suited to monitoring combustion processes in order to improve their efficiency.

Applications

  • More sensitive and reliable CO detectors than now available for homes and industry
  • CO source detectors and dosimeters
  • Active combustion control

Benefits

For measuring CO levels, our sensor offers higher sensitivity, faster response time and greater reliability than is now possible with commercial sensors. This sensor easily meets OSHA standards for detecting the maximum permissible exposure to CO (35 parts per million), and it does so with little likelihood of sounding false alarms. Its elevated operating temperatures also suit it to monitoring combustion processes; it thus enables active combustion control for the first time.
Solution Monitor

Features

The Solution Monitor measures on line, continuously and in real time surfactants or any constituents that foam or bubble. Unlike conventional techniques that measure the specific constituents of a process stream, the Solution Monitor measures a property of a process stream.

The Solution Monitor eliminates the use of hazardous chemicals, thereby ensuring the safety of workers and the environment. It requires no specially trained technicians or complex algorithms to conduct an analysis.

The Solution Monitor can control or drive a process, as well as automate and optimize the addition of process reagents. For example, during cleaning operations, the instrument can be set to maintain a predetermined level of a particular surfactant.

Applications

  • Monitoring of surfactant, or surface-active agent, concentrations for the cosmetics, soap, food-processing and cleaning and washing industries
  • Monitoring for oil in water and for head formation and stability in brewing or fermentation
  • Controlling surfactant (soap) levels, as well as determining when rinsing is complete, two key processes of interest to industrial cleaning, cleaning-in-place processes, laundries and dry cleaners
  • Controlling, in an automated fashion, surfactant levels in electroplating baths
  • Determining if residual surfactants are present during the recycling or reusing of purified water

Benefits

  • Uses no hazardous chemicals, thereby eliminating the potential risk to workers and the environment
  • Conducts continuous on-line measurements, unlike conventional techniques, which take 30 minutes or more to conduct an off-line analysis
  • Requires no trained personnel or complex algorithms to interpret the instrumentês output
  • Costs less than $1,000 to produce, as compared with $10,000 for conventional instruments
SuperScan Counterfeit Currency Detector

Features

SuperScan uses NIR spectroscopy and chemometric analyses to discriminate between genuine and counterfeit U.S. currency. Through the use of computational algorithms that amplify even the tiniest differences—differences that are invisible to well-trained eyes and conventional currency scanners—SuperScan quickly and reliably confirms or refutes a billês authenticity.

Applications

SuperScan detects counterfeit U.S. $20 and $100 bills, including "superdollars," the near-perfect copies of $100 bills that evade detection by conventional currency scanners. In addition, it can authenticate turquoise gemstones, determining whether a particular stone is natural, treated or fraudulent.

Future applications, which require only the compilation and testing of additional spectral reference libraries to become feasible, include authenticating other denominations of U.S. currency, currency from other countries, other types of documents, and other semiprecious stones, such as coral, amber and lapis.

Benefits

Because of its relative stability, U.S. currency is one of the preferred currencies for use worldwide-two-thirds of the U.S. currency in circulation is in foreign hands. The stability of the global economy is thus disproportionately linked to the stability of U.S. currency. Unfortunately, U.S. currency is among the easiest of the world's stable currencies to counterfeit. Because a currency's value hinges on public confidence, a steady trickle of fakes can threaten the currency's integrity-which in the case of U.S. dollars has a global impact. SuperScan's ability to identify counterfeit notes, including superdollars, so they can be removed from circulation will reduce the funds available to support terrorist activities, will bolster the dollar's stability, and will thus improve global economic and political stability.

Transportable Actinide Mass Spectrometer (TAMS)

Features

The TAMS system provides quick, accurate, on-site analysis to identify and determine the enrichment level of uranium and plutonium isotopes. It combines proven, reliable actinide chemistry and mass spectrometry techniques in a self-contained system that is small, compact, and easily transportable. TAMS analyzes nuclear materials in less than 30 minutes, allowing prompt intervention if contraband nuclear material is identified.

Applications

TAMS can be used whenever one needs a quick, accurate identification and enrichment-level determination of uranium and plutonium compounds, especially when such analyses must be done in the field. It is suited to

  • determination of the extent and sophistication of nuclear proliferation in governments, extremist political groups, and terrorist organizations
  • determination of nuclear materials composition entering or exiting a country
  • assessment of the value of smuggled nuclear materials
  • analysis of nuclear accident severity
  • analysis for nuclear materials research

Benefits

  • Easily transportable to remote locations
  • Provides dependable analysis accuracy of 10% or better
  • Completes analyses in 30 minutes or less
  • Requires no sample preparation
  • Rugged, dependable and inexpensive
  • Easy to operate
Wide-Energy Neutron Detection Instrument (WENDI)

Features

WENDI measures the amount of neutron radiation, or dose, received by human beings who work at nuclear power plants or other facilities where neutron radiation is present or who live near such facilities. This accurate, sensitive, and versatile neutron dose meter incorporates nontoxic tungsten to extend the response of the meter to high-energy neutrons and to improve the accuracy of its intermediate-energy response. WENDI is the first new design in neutron dose meters in 30 years.

  • WENDI measures neutron dose over a wide range of neutron energies.
  • WENDI is the only neutron dose meter that accurately measures the dose of high-energy neutrons.
  • times the sensitivity of its nearest competitor.
  • WENDI measures neutron dose with uniform angular response.

Applications

WENDI measures neutron dose for people working in the following environments: nuclear power plants, medical centers where accelerators are used to treat cancer, oil-well-logging sites, research centers that use particle accelerators and nuclear-materials laboratories.

In the future WENDI can be used to measure neutron dose received by personnel at fusion power plants, should such plants become a reality.

Benefits

WENDI's high accuracy over a wide range of neutron energies (from 0.025 eV to 10 MeV) will allow more efficient use of radiation workers. WENDI's high sensitivity will ensure a safer environment for people living near nuclear facilities. WENDI's ability to measure the dose from high-energy neutrons will allow more efficient use of workers at medical and research particle accelerators.

X3D: Three-Dimensional Unstructured Grid Toolbox

Features

X3D provides 2- and 3-D grid generation, grid optimization, and grid maintenance tools for static and dynamic modeling and simulation applications. It generates adaptive hybrid structured and unstructured grids for modeling complex multimaterial geometries, including analytic and nonanalytic surfaces and it optimizes grids to provide necessary resolution while minimizing the number of required elements.

X3D dynamically adapts grids, preserving material interfaces, so that moving fronts, changing volumes and other features can be accurately followed over time. And finally, X3D's user-extensible data structures and libraries are easily interfaced with existing user-generated application software.

Applications

X3D can be used to model virtually any 2- or 3-D problem that can be described by partial differential equations. However, because X3D is the only 3-D hybrid grid-generation software with adaptive and time-dependent capabilities, it is particularly well suited for the following applications:

  • semiconductor manufacturing process simulations such as material deposition and etching
  • geologic models of fluid flow and material transport

In addition, X3D's unique capabilities to generate grids for multimaterial geometries with nonanalytic surfaces make it ideal for static grid generation for modeling semiconductor devices.

Benefits

X3D enables scientists and engineers to realistically model complex, multiple-material, 3-D structures that change over time. In addition, it minimizes required computer resources by preserving interface integrity and minimizing the number of nodes required for application-specific calculations. Easily modified through user-extensible data objects, user-defined commands, and easy-to-use interfaces for linking with existing user-specified application software, X3D is well suited for a wide range of practical applications.

R&D Winner = Winner


Innovations for a secure nation

Secure computing for commerce, banking, communications...

Secure computing for commerce, banking, communications...

If implemented on a wide scale, quantum key distribution technology could ensure truly secure commerce, banking, communications and data transfer.

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