Los Alamos National Labs with logo 2021

2014 R&D 100 Awards

Discoveries, developments, advancements and inventions at Los Alamos make America—and the world—a better and safer place and bolster national security.
AWS: A Revolutionary Laser-Based
Nondestructive Inspection SystemR&D Winner

AWS: A revolutionary laser-based nondestructive inspection systemWe have developed a technique known as Acoustic Wavenumber Spectroscopy (AWS), which generates images of hidden structural properties and/or defects. AWS generates such images by taking fast, full-field measurements of a structure’s steady-state response to periodic ultrasonic excitation.

AWS’s novelty is in its ability to extract local wave propagation properties by using continuous, periodic ultrasonic excitation and continuous-scan sensing, which enables noninvasive, high-rate and high-resolution ultrasonic imaging.

Taking measurements of a structure’s relatively high amplitude steady-state response yields significantly faster scans by avoiding many of the wave-reverberation and signal-to-noise-ratio issues associated with typical scanned ultrasonic measurements.

SAFIRE: Noninvasive, Real-Time, and Accurate
Estimates of Oil ProductionR&D Winner

SAFIREA multiphase flow meter, Safire provides noninvasive, real-time, and accurate estimates of oil production for every well. Safire achieves measurement rates as high as 100 readings per second (including computation time).

Safire is based on swept frequency acoustic interferometry (SFAI). SFAI uses frequency-chirp signal propagation (wideband ultrasonic frequency) through a multiphase medium to extract frequency-dependent physical properties of said medium. Reservoir engineers then use the propagation time and the attenuation of the chirp signal as a function of frequency to extract both fluid flow and multiphase fluid composition information.

Simple to use, Safire enables continuous measurements in fast-changing oil flows in rod-pumped wells, as well as other wells. Safire’s ability to provide accurate, real-time volumetric measurements of oil flow from wells means:

  1. better reservoir management,
  2. accelerated production, and
  3. huge cost savings by eliminating environmentally unsafe separations tank.
Cyto-AMP: Cell Acoustic Manipulation Platform

Cyto-AMP: Cell Acoustic Manipulation Platform A microfluidic device, Cyto-AMP can differentiate between cells based on size, buoyant density, and speed of sound—properties that determine a cell’s acoustic contrast and are known cellular indicators of disease.

This instrument allows continuous microscale separation of single cells and easily separates bacteria from white blood cells, for example. Separating cells by using acoustic response would enable cell detection without labeling, thus simplifying sample preparation and reducing the number of necessary device components.

Cyto-AMP uses a standing surface acoustic wave to gently and instantly focus flowing cells from the center of a channel toward pressure nodes at the channel sidewalls. Cyto-AMP achieves such movement based on the response of cell physical properties to the acoustic field.

IsoFOX: Fuel-Oxidizer Solid-Rocket Propulsion System

IsoFOX: Fuel-Oxidizer Solid-Rocket Propulsion SystemA segregated fuel-oxidizer propellant system, IsoFOX is a breakthrough technology in solid rocket propulsion in terms of energy and safety.

IsoFOX takes advantage of a unique combination of novel materials under a radically new engineering design. Recent development of high-nitrogen and –hydrogen energetic molecules and systems at Los Alamos (containing little or no oxygen) enabled us to develop a segregated tandem system.

In this new system, the energetic material provides fuel from decomposition, which is then oxidized in a separate chamber by reacting with a solid oxidizer.

The chances of accidental rocket detonation or initiation are dramatically reduced because the fuel and the oxidizer remain separated until it is time to initiate fuel combustion. Moreover, both the fuel and oxidizer are completely insensitive to shock.

MagRay: Differentiating Between
Benign and Explosive Liquids

MagRay Although most carry-on liquids at airports are benign—ranging from energy drinks to shampoos—there may be a select few that are actually liquid explosives carried aboard by terrorists.

Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory have developed a technology known as MagRay, which quickly and accurately differentiates between benign liquids (like fine wine or an energy drink) and liquids that pose a threat, such as esoteric and homemade explosive liquids. MagRay can perform such a scan in less than 20 seconds and with over 95% accuracy.

MagRay for the first time combines nuclear magnetic resonance with X-ray. MagRay is unique in that it has unlocked a new parameter— hydrogen content—not available to conventional MRI or X-ray alone.

Packaging is also not an issue, as MagRay easily looks through all kinds of packaging, from wood and paper to metal and plastics. MagRay can screen multiple bodies simultaneously without any loss in throughput.

R&D Winner = Winner