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Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

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

2006 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.
ENABLE: Energetic Neutral Atom Beam Lithography/EpitaxyR&D Winner

ENABLE: Energetic Neutral Atom Beam Lithography/EpitaxyEmploying an energetic collimated beam of neutral nitrogen or oxygen atoms, ENABLE comprises a dual-function nanofabrication technology capable of both growing thin films and etching high-aspect-ratio nanostructures. It is unique in that its low-temperature operation spares the activation of diffusive and other unwanted surface chemical changes that are drawbacks of existing nanofabrication processes. Because its precise high-aspect-ratio nanoscale etching and rapid high-quality thin film growth capabilities can be readily combined, ENABLE technology is theoretically capable of fabricating details down to 1 nm or less in size, giving it greater versatility than current nanofabrication processes.


  • Wide bandgap semiconductors
  • Solid-state lighting
  • Ultraviolet and blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and lasers
  • Multicolor flat-panel display technologies
  • Room-temperature spintronic-based devices
  • Photovoltaic devices
  • Photonic crystal devices
  • High-quality dielectrics (super capacitors)
  • High-capacity microbatteries
  • NEMS and MEMS structures
  • Micro- and nanofluidics
  • Nanowires
Green Primaries: Enviro-Friendly Energetic MaterialsR&D Winner

Green Primaries: Enviro-Friendly Energetic MaterialsGreen Primaries are designed to replace the ubiquitous lead-based primary explosives that are currently polluting human tissues and the environment with neurotoxic lead residues and have been doing so for nearly 400 years. Not only nontoxic both in their manufacture and detonation products, Green Primaries are also superior to lead primaries and all other current experimental substitutes in that they are insensitive to spark and can be manufactured in several variants. These chemical variations exhibit differences in explosive energy and in impact and friction sensitivity, making Green Primaries adaptable to diverse explosive and transportation requirements. In addition to being more environmentally friendly through the elimination of heavy-metal residues, Green Primaries are safer to manufacture because they pose no danger for explosion during the manufacturing process.


  • Civilian ammunition (both hunting and law enforcement)
  • Military ammunition and explosive devices
  • Mining, excavating and demolition detonators
  • Projectile propellants
  • Industrial motors, actuators and valves
  • Gas generators
  • Pyrotechnics
  • Miniaturized explosive systems
MICHELLE: A Software Tool for Three-Dimensional Modeling of Charged-Particle-Beam DevicesR&D Winner

MICHELLEMICHELLE simulates the operation of a wide variety of charged-particle-beam devices. To perform a simulation, MICHELLE calculates the electrostatic fields, the magnetostatic fields and the particle trajectories in the device under steady-state or slowly varying field conditions. MICHELLE can model intense or relativistic particle beams, particle injection into the device volume, and secondary-electron emission produced by particle collisions with the device walls. MICHELLE’s calculational space can be decomposed into as many as 9 million volume elements, providing unprecedented spatial resolution for this type of code.

MICHELLE can also calculate up to 200,000 particle trajectories, which is also unprecedented. It is the only code that providesaccurate simulations of several advanced guns and collectors used in high-power microwave tubes. Physical insight provided by these simulations has saved years of trial and error in the laboratory and led to longer-lasting microwave tubes for defense-radar systems, more cost-effective tubes for satellite-communication systems, and higher-power tubes for particle-accelerator and deep-space communication systems.


MICHELLE has been used to simulate the operation of

  • gridded, multibeam, sheet-beam, and annular-beam electron guns for high-power microwave tubes
  • multibeam and multistage depressed electron
  • collectors for high-power microwave tubes
  • complete (gun-to-collector) high-power microwave tubes
  • ion thrusters for deep-space missions
  • beam transport in particle accelerators
PixelVizion: An NPU-Embedded Visualization Accelerator for Large Data SetsR&D Winner

PixelVizionAs imaging and video technology continues to advance, the need to process, analyze, sort and manipulate large data sets has grown tremendously. The image compositing function has become a visualization bottleneck. PixelVizion is the first Network Processor Unit (NPU)-based computer visualization tool that addresses this bottleneck. It brings single-pass network data transmission and on-the-fly image compositing that yields an order-of-magnitude increase in interactive response times. PixelVizion is a hardware-assisted, lossless, highly scalable, high-frame-rate solution to the visualization bottleneck of image compositing. It composites extremely large volumes of data at rates that are 10 to 20 times faster than those of current compositing technologies. As a cost-effective, commercial, off-the-shelf solution, PixelVizion removes the need for an expensive network interconnect and accommodates a variety of software rendering packages.


  • Orthopedics, rehabilitation, sports science
  • Virtual medical training
  • Specialized diagnostic imaging
  • Virtual skin grafting
  • Weather patterns
  • Large-scale scientific problems
  • Animation and special effects
  • Video game graphics
  • Film postprocessing
TridentR&D Winner

TridentReconfigurable-logic arrays already accelerate computation 10 to 100 times in many important applications, but to be maximally useful, this technology must be accessible to the scientists developing new applications. Most application developershave relatively little hardware-design experience.

Trident provides accessibility. It is a high-level-language compiler that supports floating-point data types and operations. It translates scientific algorithms that use floating-point mathematics into hardware circuits mapped onto reconfigurable-logic arrays. Putting it another way, Trident accepts C language input containing floating-point calculations and translates this language into field-programmable-gate-array hardware. It allows computational scientists to explore partitioning their code between software and hardware.


  • Trident translates scientific algorithms in C containing floating-point mathematics into field-programmable-gate-array hardware. Without a compiler such as Trident, the reconfigurable hardware is not accessible to the computational scientist.
  • In the future, Trident, combined with tools to locate computationally intensive regions, may be used to identify blocks of code suitable for acceleration through the use of reconfigurable-logic arrays.
ACSi: Aligned-Crystalline Silicon Films on Non-Single-Crystalline Substrates

ACSiOur aligned-crystalline silicon (ACSi) film deposition process achieves high-performing, near-single-crystalline silicon films on low-cost, large-area, non-single-crystalline substrates by using ion-beam-assisted deposition (iBeam) texturing. No other technology combines the high performance of single-crystalline silicon wafers with the low cost of amorphous and polycrystalline silicon films on non-single-crystalline substrates. By providing a means to improve the performance (or reduce the cost) of silicon-based devices, such as solar cells and flat-panel displays, our ACSi technology promises to fundamentally alter the semiconductor industry.

Our ACSi process promises to vastly improve the quality of silicon-based products—offering high quality at a price comparable to lower-quality products currently available. Our process also offers the option of manufacturing these products on a flexible substrate, leading to the development of durable solar cells that could be wrapped around a building or used as roofing shingles, curved or flexible TV monitors or computer screens and electronic billboards of nearly any conceivable size, expanding market possibilities to new flexible electronic products.


Silicon (in either amorphous, polycrystalline or single-crystalline form) is the most widely used material in the semiconductor industry, with multibillion-dollar applications in

  • solar cells (films and wafers)
  • flat-panel displays (such as TV and computer monitors, mobile-phone and PDA displays and electronic billboards)
Converting InfiniBand to High-Performance Computing

 Converting InfiniBand to High-Performance ComputinDeveloped for storage area networks, InfiniBand was a latecomer to a market already dominated by other products. As a result, sales of the technology lagged. It did, however, capture the attention of the national laboratories, which saw it as a potentially superior interconnect for supercomputing clusters. Taking the initiative, the labs pushed for additional development, communicated their needs in annual workshops, provided test-bed clusters larger than any available in the private sector, offered financial support through Department of Energy (DOE)/National Nuclear Security Administration “PathForward” contracts and organized the OpenIB Alliance, comprising InfiniBand vendors and developers and the DOE laboratories. These efforts resulted in an entirely new market—and a new future—for InfiniBand.


InfiniBand can now be used as an interconnect for clustered supercomputers used for

  • solving classified weapons validation and verification problems
  • pursuing basic research
  • modeling epidemiological and pharmaceutical problems
  • supporting oil and natural gas exploration
  • simulating aircraft performance, cockpit procedures, weapons systems and battlefield maneuvers
  • modeling aerospace problems
EnergyFit: Cool, Fast, Reliable Computing

EnergyFitEnergyFit is self-aware, self-adapting software that automatically reduces the energy consumption of a processor in a computing system by as much as 70 percent with minimal impact on performance. In addition to reducing energy bills, EnergyFit ultimately lowers temperatures in computer systems, which in turn leads to better reliability. That is, as per Arrhenius’ equation, for every 10°C decrease in temperature, the long-term reliability of the electronics in the system doubles. By reducing the thermal envelope of processors, EnergyFit allows the footprint of a data center to be shrunk, lowering the total cost of ownership and providing an environmentally friendly solution that can generate sustainable revenue.


  • Supercomputing centers
  • Financial data centers
  • Laptops
  • Desktop computers
  • Data-center servers
  • Internet service providers
  • Search-engine farms
  • Sensor networks
  • Embedded processing systems (e.g., cell phones, automobiles, airline reservation systems, multimedia portable players, network routers on the Internet, video-gaming consoles such as Sony PlayStation Portable or anything that has an embedded processor)
EPD 1.0: Multifunctional Element Detector for Immediate Response

EPD 1.0: Multifunctional Element Detector for Immediate ResponseOur Element Presence Detector (EPD 1.0) merges the multiple-element characterization of atomic emission spectroscopy (AES) with the low power and gas consumption of a novel microwave-induced plasma. The result is the first multifunctional, portable, and affordable analytical instrument to characterize air particles, liquids, and surface particles on site and in real time. Because other AES instruments require thousands of watts to operate and weigh up to 800 pounds, they are hardly portable, being confined to the laboratory and occupying valuable bench space. These analytical instruments, which primarily perform only solution analyses, deliver analytical results only after the fact through complex sample collection, digestion, and analysis. In contrast, our portable EPD 1.0 instantly notifies workers of safety or quality concerns at the workplace, enabling prompt corrective action at a substantially lower cost than can be obtained with inductively coupled, plasma-based instruments.


  • On-site hazardous air particulate monitoring for manufacturing facilities
  • In-line quality control for industrial processes
  • Laboratory analysis
  • On-site element characterization: includes such applications as underground water source monitoring and environmental air quality monitoring
File Scrub: Review, Cleansing and Trusted Transfer Tools for Files

File ScrubFile Scrub and File Scrub Trusted Copy are security software applications designed to review files for the identification and elimination of sensitive information. Both File Scrub applications detect and remove hidden data in a review process designed to prevent the inadvertent or intentional release of sensitive materials, resulting in a cleansed file. File Scrub Trusted Copy (formerly know as Multi-Platform Trusted Copy, or MPTC) has additional features that provide the user with a consistent and regimented workflow for the transfer of the cleansed file to a removable medium for distribution outside classified and closed work environments.

Both File Scrub products also search for user-supplied keywords and phrases, enabling a careful review of files to ensure organizational data security protocols. File Scrub then creates an encrypted log containing information about who conducted the review and when, what was found, and what information is contained in the newly created cleansed version of the file. By running on a comprehensive set of operating system platforms (Solaris, Linux, Microsoft Windows and Apple Macintosh OS X), both products permit the simplification of training requirements and the maximization of existing resources.


  • Review of government and corporate files for hidden, classified and sensitive data before releasing the documents to other agencies, the public and the news media
  • Protection against inadvertent release of personal private information such as medical, legal and financial information
Kokopelli Air Sampler

Kokopelli Air SamplerKokopelli is a revolutionary air sampler that collects particulates directly into a laboratory-analysis well plate, virtually eliminating the possibility of cross contamination as the samples are retrieved, transported to an analysis laboratory and loaded into an analysis instrument. The simplicity of the engineering design enhances its reliability in the field. The flexibility in its sampling schemes allows the operator to select among a wide variety of sampling modes including sampling on triggers and collecting variable-duration samples. Finally, Kokopelli can be operated remotely via a cellular modem or Internet link. Thus, it is suitable for long-term, unattended operations.


  • Our device can be remotely adjusted to vary the sample volume and duration.
  • Flexibility in its sampling schemes allows the operator to select among a wide variety of sampling modes, including sampling on triggers and collecting variable-duration samples.
  • Kokopelli’s flexibility makes it ideal for long-term surveillance in both civilian and military applications.
  • It can be deployed outdoors at high-risk or high-traffic locations such as at stadiums, national parks, mass-transit systems, city streets or parks, livestock feedlots, poultry farms and military installations.
  • It can also be used to monitor indoor air quality in facilities such as hospitals, cruise ships, airports or airliners, sports arenas, manufacturing facilities and embassies.
Large-Area Grid and Scintillator Assembly for High-Energy Radiography

Large-Area Grid and Scintillator Assembly for High-Energy RadiographyOur scatter-rejection grid and attached scintillator are part of a flash-radiography camera system at the Los Alamos Dual-Axis Radiographic Hydrotest facility, where researchers assess the implosion symmetry of chemical explosions with mock nuclear components. Our scatter-rejection grid is the first to operate successfully for any application using megavolt radiography. The grid is composed of 137,000 precisely aligned, 0.9-mm-diam holes penetrating a 40-cm-thick cylinder of tungsten constructed from 120 cast layers. The scintillator is similarly composed of photoetched stainless steel layers, stacked to form a matrix loaded with long Lu2SiO5:Ce scintillating crystals. As part of a digital camera system, our precisely aligned grid and scintillator matrix allow us to image an item as thin as a piece of aluminum foil through a foot or more of steel. By taking advantage of the wide dynamic range now available with solid-state imaging devices, they are perfect for imaging low-contrast features inside thick objects.


  • Flash radiography—producing still images and million-frame/second x-ray movies of rapidly moving objects at very high contrast
  • Nondestructive testing—examining manufactured items for weld defects or casting voids
  • Gamma-ray spectroscopy—rejecting Compton scatter from radioisotope sources
  • Nuclear resonance fluoroscopy—detecting landmines and “dirty bombs” from a distance
  • Medical therapy—reducing scattered radiation from a surgical “gamma knife”
  • Balloon-borne astronomy—assisting gamma-ray imaging of the universe
Multifunctional Nano-Architectures

Multifunctional Nano-ArchitecturesDerived from the highest-energy polyazido precursors synthesized in our laboratory, a variety of ultrapure nanomaterials of diverse architectures can be produced quickly and inexpensively. Controlled pyrolyses of tetrazine- and triazine-derivative compounds are performed under mild conditions requiring no vacuum systems, no extraction, no carbonization, no purification, and generating no toxic byproducts. The results are carbon nanospheres and nanopolygons and diamond-hard carbon nitrides of multiple, reproducibly generated nano-architectures suitable for a diversity of research and manufacturing applications.


  • Fillers for high-performance automotive tires
  • Pigmentation and protective coatings
  • Electrical and thermal conductivity control
  • Diamond-hard surface coatings on tools
  • Lithium ion battery anodes
  • Microelectromechanical gas and humidity sensors and hydrogen-storage devices
  • Shock-absorbent structural reinforcements and elastic membranes
  • Filtration reagents
  • Biocompatible implant coatings
  • Nanomaterials for miniaturized electronics and biological sensor/response mimics
NARQ: Network Automated Response and Quarantine

 NARQNARQ, Network Automated Response and Quarantine, is a software program that instantaneously quarantines computing devices that are infected with malicious self-replicating programs (“worms”). NARQ’s innovative network mapping capability locates devices every 15 minutes. By enabling technicians to organize connections between switches without having to physically trace wires, NARQ automatically removes threats to a network without disrupting other systems. This capability increases productivity and saves operating costs by developing detailed physical interconnects. NARQ is a robust, generic program that can be used with different hardware vendors, integrating easily with a variety of products.


  • Immediately locates all devices on a network
  • Plans and optimizes the topological arrangement of the network
  • Provides computer policy enforcement
  • Provides network engineering and trouble-shooting

ParaViewParaView is an open-source, scalable, multi-platform, parallel visualization framework, built on top of the popular Visualization Toolkit (VTK) and currently used by more than 30 laboratories and universities worldwide. The goal of this three-lab project is to develop scalable parallel processing tools with an emphasis on distributed memory implementations. ParaView includes parallel algorithms, infrastructure, I/O, support, and display devices and requires all software developed to be delivered open source. The combination of ParaView and high-performance graphics hardware has opened up a new level of interactivity with large data sets, helping researchers around the world better visualize many types of data—from global climate modeling to intricate fluid dynamic simulations. As the world’s most scalable visualization platform, ParaView leverages cutting-edge parallel rendering algorithms and uses the leading technology in commodity PC clusters and graphics hardware to interactively visualize some of the world’s largest data sets.


  • Scientific visualization and analysis of thermal, mechanical, particle, fluid flow, radiation transport, and transient dynamics simulation results
  • Visualization tasks as varied as network traffic analysis and geographic exploration
  • Global climate modeling, intricate fluid dynamic simulations, weapons verification, and astrophysics studies
 ReLocATE: Reconfigurable Logic Accelerated Traffic Engine

 ReLocATEReLocATE is a hybrid software/hardware package compatible with traffic simulation suites such as the Los Alamos Transportation Analysis and Simulation System (TRANSIMS) now in use by the U.S. Department of Transportation. It makes use of a unique application of super-computing clusters and reconfigurable logic, speeding up traffic simulation by dividing road data into two categories: simple two-lane roads and more complex, multilane road segments and intersections. Simulation of the simple two-lane roads is then done through the use of field-programmable gate arrays. Microprocessors handle the rest. ReLocATE can perform 390,000 street updates per second per node, accelerating traffic simulation by 3.2 times real time, making it a far more useful tool during emergencies in large cities. Simulations that once took days can now be done in eight hours. This product is a revolutionary step, demonstrating next-generation implementation of super-computing applications: special purpose processors (e.g., reconfigurable logic) combined with microprocessors to produce a system with unparalleled computing power and capacity.


  • Emergency Evacuations: ReLocATE’s speed—combined with TRANSIMS’ data—can make it possible to try out scenarios, quickly find the best approach, and implement a maximally efficient traffic plan even in a very large city.
  • Urban Planning: ReLocATE is also valuable on a day-to-day basis. When used with TRANSIMS, it can assist with routine transportation planning, providing fast answers to complex development questions ranging from the most efficient routes for new highways to the impact proposed routes will have on neighborhoods.

R&D Winner = Winner

Innovations for a secure nation

Four Los Alamos projects selected as R&D 100 Award finalists

Four Los Alamos projects selected as R&D 100 Award finalists

Finalists include X-ray imaging, pipe corrosion, data handling and damage-detection software  

» All Innovations


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