Los Alamos National Labs with logo 2021

2008 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.
3-D Tracking MicroscopeR&D Winner

3-D Tracking MicroscopeThe 3D tracking microscope is the only system capable of following small (~10 nm) protein-sized objects moving through three dimensions at rates faster than many intracellular transport processes. The 3D tracking microscope can follow the transport of nanometer-sized particles at µm/second rates with a spatial accuracy of approximately 100 nm for each axis (X, Y and Z). This enables one to follow individual protein, RNA or DNA motion throughout the full three-dimensional volume of a cell to see where a particular biomolecule travels, the method it takes to get there and the specific proteins it may be interacting with along the way. Conventional laser scanning confocal microscopes (LSCMs) are valuable tools for academic researchers and pharmaceutical companies, comprising a roughly 225 Million$/yr market. LCSMs enable 3D rendering of cellular structure, but can not follow individual protein motion in three dimensions. The 3D tracking microscope can do everything a conventional LSCM can do and much more. It can track single labeled molecules in three dimensions as well as render 3D images with single fluorophore sensitivity.


This microscope will advance our understanding of disease at the molecular level by enabling researchers to follow, step by step, the transport of important signaling proteins involved in complex signal transduction cascades:

  • Signal transduction cascades that have run haywire cause a number of human diseases, ranging from cancer to anaphylactic shock
  • Disruption of these corrupt pathways is a clear target for therapeutics
  • Proper and controlled disruption of these pathways demands a better knowledge base concerning the exact proteins involved and their kinetic and spatial relation to one another—information readily obtained with the 3D tracking microscope
Laser-Weave®: New approach for synthesizing inorganic fibersR&D Winner

Laser-WeaveLaser-Weave® is a new approach for synthesizing inorganic fibers that allows for arbitrarily complex braiding patterns, including patterns that could not be produced mechanically, certainly not in a single mechanical stage. Laser-Weave provides a simple, low-cost route to the synthesis of fine, refractory-metal fibers and their compounds, as well as improving their underlying fiber strength, elasticity and toughness. Laser-Weave uses lasers with chemical vapor deposition to grow inorganic fibers and intertwine them rather than requiring the fibers to be mechanically assembled or intertwined after they are grown. Laser-Weave combines all the advantages of a rapid prototyping technology with advanced metallurgy and textile production methods.


Fibers and fabrics produced by Laser-Weave can be used in

  • Power plant insulation
  • High-temperature appliances
  • Fire protection clothing
  • Aerospace shields
  • Commercial appliances
ECAS: Equal Channel Angular Sintering

ECAS: Equal Channel Angular SinteringECAS forms solid nanocrystalline-ceramic parts from powders of ceramic nanocrystals, which have sizes of 100 nanometers or less. The size of the nanocrystals in an ECAS-produced part is about the same as that of the starting nanocrystals. In the more than 100 years since sintering was invented, this is the first time the size of the starting nanocrystals has been preserved in a finished sintered part. ECAS is also one of the few processes to produce nanocrystalline ceramic parts that are “fully dense,” that is, parts whose densities approach their theoretical maximum. We believe ECAS can also reduce a part’s nanocrystal size to less than that of the starting nanocrystals. Moreover, ECAS can easily be scaled to produce large parts and has the potential to be developed into a continuous process for a production line.


ECAS can produce fully dense, nanocrystalline-ceramic parts from a wide variety of nanocrystal powders to provide the following benefits:

  • Preservation of the starting nanocrystalline powder size in a finished part’s nanocrystals to enhance all properties (mechanical, electrical, dielectric, optical, thermal, magnetic, etc.)
  • Full density, maximizing part properties
  • Reduction of finished part’s nanocrystal size to 5–10 nanometers
  • Continuous processing, reducing production costs
Gloveport Retrofit: Upgrading Enclosures with 21st Century Technology

Gloveport RetrofitIn collaboration with Getinge-la Calhène, LANL has developed a new type of gloveport that will enable operators to quickly and easily change out gloves in gloveboxes. Once these new gloveports are installed, operators will be able to replace worn gloves safely because our gloveport’s innovative ring design eliminates any chance of residual contamination from radiation or other toxins.


This gloveport retrofit benefits any organization that conducts work in a controlled environment:

  • Pharmaceutical, biochemistry and medical research organizations
  • Chemical and forensics laboratories
  • Space exploration (the Microgravity Science Glovebox, which will operate aboard the Destiny space station)
  • Semiconductor assembly plants and other clean rooms used by industry
  • Nuclear research facilities, such as national laboratories
  • HAZMAT operations

R&D Winner = Winner