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2010 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.
DAAFox: Environmentally Friendly Secondary ExplosiveR&D Winner

DAAFox: Environmentally Friendly Secondary ExplosiveWe have developed a new synthesis method to manufacture a version of diaminoazoxyfurazan (DAAF), which we call DAAFox. DAAFox possesses an ideal combination of physical characteristics that makes it powerful (requires less explosive to achieve the same yield as other explosives), insensitive (resists accidental ignition, which makes it a “safe” explosive), “green” (the synthesis method is environmentally friendly), and easy to produce and scalable (one-step process that produces a batch in only four hours). This revolutionary combination of characteristics makes DAAFox an ideal secondary explosive, which can be used as an explosive booster for applications that require both insensitivity and enhanced performance.

Applications

  • Serves as an explosive booster, which acts as a bridge between a low-energy explosive and a low-sensitivity but typically high-energy explosive.
  • Serves as a main-charge explosive for Department of Energy applications.
  • Possible replacement for PBXN-7, a common booster used in fuzes by the Department of Defense in their military ordnance.
  • Works in high-temperature and -pressure environments for oil and natural gas drilling, mining, quarrying and construction applications

Benefits

  • Uses environmentally friendly materials, such as water, sodium bicarbonate, and OXONE, a nontoxic bleaching agent used to sanitize swimming pools (The manufacturing process yields only salty water as a waste product.)
  • Maintains particle size and purity from batch to batch, thus ensuring robust and predictable explosive results
  • Yields a safe and high-performing material that compares favorably with existing benchmarks for safe and high-performance explosives
  • Uses an easy, one-step process to produce an explosives batch in only four hours
  • Scales easily to large quantities without negatively impacting the product’s beneficial characteristics
MOXIE: Movies of Extreme ImagesR&D Winner

MOXIE: Movies of Extreme ImagesImagine taking a 1,000-frame movie of a sparkplug firing, just once. With MOXIE, a photographer wouldn’t even break a sweat, as the camera can take more than 4,000 frames at 20 million frames per second. Because each pixel has its own detector, amplifier, analog-to-digital convertor and memory—with thousands of channels operating in parallel—MOXIE can achieve high frame rates, a large number of frames and unprecedented sensitivity required to enable diverse imaging experiments that even the most sophisticated cameras available today cannot accomplish. Furthermore, the unique, in-line, self-shielded design allows images of visible light, x rays, gamma rays, protons and neutron sources to be recorded with high efficiency.

Applications

  • Facilitates nuclear weapon certification without nuclear testing by taking x-ray movies of full-scale mock explosions used to verify calculations
  • Enables scientists to study material equations of state, fusion plasma, discharge formation, shock physics and fracture mechanics
  • Improves the range of experiments in Schlieren photography, x-ray fluoroscopy, neutron radiography, proton radiography and visible-light photography
  • Records detailed movies of detonating improvised explosive devices and facilitates ballistic studies

Benefits

  • Provides virtually unlimited frame depth, thus enabling the camera to image even the most difficult transient events from start to finish
  • Uses a highly parallel array of amplifiers and analog-to-digital converters in a supercomputer-like architecture, resulting in a sustained data rate of 20 million frames per second
  • Simultaneously exhibits high-frame rates and extreme sensitivity, thus reducing the cost and size typical of enormous flash sources by at least an order of magnitude
  • Images with unprecedented efficiency and dynamic range virtually any particle type, from visible light to x rays, protons and gamma rays
R&D Winner Solution Deposition Planarization (SDP)

Solution Deposition Planarization (SDP)Superconducting wire is to electric power transmission what fiber-optics has been to communications. But superconducting wire is still too costly to manufacture. Solution Deposition Planarization (SDP) will not only reduce production costs, it will also support much higher power densities. Amazingly, the SDP process is simpler, with virtually no toxic manufacturing wastes.

Applications

  • Long-length energy transmission lines (zero line loss)
  • Wind turbine generators (lighter, smaller and more powerful)
  • Large industrial electric motors (more efficient, more compact)
  • Naval propulsion motors (smaller, lighter, reduced vibration and noise)
  • Functional semiconductor layers used for photovoltaic solar arrays, plasmonics, electro-optics

Benefits

  • Reduces the cost of superconductor substrate preparation
  • Enables new, stronger, better substrate materials
  • Replaces several current manufacturing steps
  • Requires no strong acids
  • Almost no solid or liquid waste
  • Increased power density by enabling layered superconductors
R&D Winner Ultraconductus

UltraconductusImagine a revolutionary manufacturing technology that easily produces wires and cables that have greater conductivity than any other metal alloy, possess greater tensile strength than steel, operate at room- or even high-temperature environments, do not require cooling, and are not subject to current density, magnetic field quench or temperature quench. Known as Ultraconductus, this technology grows long-length metallic nanotubes while simultaneously cladding them within a metal matrix. As a result of this process, electrical current can jump between and along the ends of the metallic carbon nanotubes, thereby increasing the net electrical conductivity of the metal matrix by at least 100 times.

Applications

  • High-voltage cables used to transmit power to homes and businesses around the world, as well as motors and generators that power everything from simple electronics to complex manufacturing systems
  • Electrical wires used in everything from simple electronic devices such as cell phones and televisions to specialized applications in which the tensile strength of copper or aluminum conductors is insufficient
  • Magnetic storage devices that enable the use of alternative energy sources that require enhanced grid stability and use wind, solar or other intermittent energy sources

Benefits

  • Yields annual energy savings of approximately 150 billion kilowatt-hours of energy and an associated $15 billion in cost savings by replacing just one-half of existing high-voltage cables with Ultraconductus-produced cables
  • Possesses 10 times the tensile strength and up to 100 times the conductivity of copper
  • No need for expensive cooling to achieve ultraconductivity
  • Creates lighter-weight, smaller cross-section conductors that greatly reduce the infrastructure needed to support heavy cabling
R&D Winner Ultrasonic Algal Biofuel Harvester

Ultrasonic Algal Biofuel HarvesterThe Ultrasonic Algal Biofuel Harvester uses ultrasonic fields to harvest and extract from algae its lipids and proteins and recover the water, all in one integrated system. No other technology uses one single method to obtain all three valuable components of algae. Using acoustic-focusing technology and very minimal electrical energy, the Harvester dewaters and concentrates the algal cells, lyses the algal cells and separates the lipids and proteins. The lipids, or oils, in the algae can be refined into biofuel, the proteins used for animal feedstock, and the water recycled. The system uses no solvents and membranes, making it environmentally benign, and has no moving parts, resulting in very little needed maintenance. Because of its small size and energy efficiency, this technology can be used directly at algae growth ponds, reducing the need for high-cost transportation of algae in its medium to processing areas, thus further reducing biofuel production costs.

Applications

  • Provides a low-cost, environmentally benign and energy-efficient source of algal lipids for use in biofuels
  • Creates a valuable source of protein to feed production animals such as cattle, poultry and fish
  • Produces carbohydrates that can be used to produce ethanol or methane

Benefits

  • Makes algal biofuel more cost-competitive with current fuels, significantly increasing the availability and viability of biofuels in the near future
  • Eliminates the traditional use of hazardous solvents in extracting algal lipids and the associated risks to the environment and humans
  • Reduces the need to transport large quantities of algae to processing areas, lowering power consumption and transportation costs in the production of biofuel
  • Recycles water for immediate re-use
  • Allows for batch or continuous processing of algae
Cyber RADAR: Real-time Automatic Detection and Response

Cyber RADAR: Real-time Automatic Detection and ResponseIn recent years, the threat to computer systems from clever phishing scams, insider threats, destructive cyber worms and computer viruses has intensified, dramatically heightening the need for cyber security. The Cyber RADAR (Real-time Automatic Detection and Response) system detects and responds to threats automatically, in real time. The Cyber RADAR suite of four integrated components monitors a computer network, detects changes, decides which changes constitute threats and quarantines targeted computers. It completes all four steps in as little as 20 seconds, continuously protecting even a large network of 20,000 or more computers from costly attacks.

Applications

The Cyber RADAR computer-network security system can be used

  • in private company computer network systems
  • institutional computer network systems, such those as at national laboratories, or
  • hospitals and military computer network systems

Benefits

  • Replaces human intervention with automatic, real-time response
  • Stands guard and responds 24/7, eliminating dependence on standard work hours and work days
  • Reduces time and money spent on repairs after cyber attacks
  • Reduces computer downtime
  • Isolates compromised computers without disrupting other network users
  • Detects and takes action against previously unknown threats
  • Modular design easily integrates with existing computer security systems
High-Throughput Laboratory Network

High Throughput Laboratory NetworkThe High-Throughput Laboratory Network (HTLN) is a modular system that can receive, assession, and screen 10,000 influenza samples per year, generating their full genome. In “pandemic mode,” HTLN can monitor selective human genes at up to 50,000 samples per month in support of public health monitoring. Using the most advanced robotics and technologies available, HTLN easily runs 24/7 with fewer than eight operators. Originally designed to guide public health policies and vaccine development to counter emerging pandemics associated with any influenza virus carried in a primary avian host, HTLN can be quickly modified to sample, assession, and screen any infectious disease agent.

Applications

  • Monitors pathogens in the bio-pool along migratory animal paths
  • Expedites widespread collection and testing of influenza samples
  • Provides early data to guide public health policies and vaccine development before a pathogen becomes the next human pandemic
  • In pandemic mode, works to process high volumes of human samples quickly and accurately to support ever-changing public-health needs

Benefits

  • Provides the first entry in a global network system that processes samples, isolates the influenza, analyzes genomes, characterizes the phenotypes and stores relevant samples for reference
  • Tracks data from field-sample collection to the completed and assembled genome
  • Makes possible global surveillance as a result of HTLN’s automated sequencing and efficient influenza-handling techniques
  • Shortens dramatically the time needed to guide the selection of effective vaccines
  • Incorporates a modular design that is easily reconfigured to respond to emerging threats
PLFS (Parallel Log-Structured File System)

PLFS (Parallel Log-Structured File System)To prevent having to restart lengthy intensive computing as a result of a system failure, massively parallel computing systems rely on checkpointing, a process that saves a “snapshot” of an application’s current state. At present, concurrent and random-access checkpoint writes to a shared file require unnecessary disk-seeking and file-locking at the parallel storage system, a process that drastically reduces bandwidth. Our Parallel Log-structured File System software decouples concurrent access and reorganizes random logical writes into sequential physical writes, thus enabling applications to write in parallel at near-optimal storage bandwidth.

Applications

  • Improves write bandwidth for checkpoints of large parallel applications
  • Reduces N-N checkpointing times by reducing disk seeks through its use of sequential, log-structured writing to data storage
  • Distributes container subdirectories across multiple metadata servers

Benefits

  • Achieves near-optimal storage bandwidth
  • Reduces checkpoint time up to several orders of magnitude, even on the largest supercomputers
  • Frees resources that are expensive and limit the use of the machine
  • Works regardless of application I/O pattern for unmodified applications
  • Works across multiple file systems

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.

» All Innovations

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