1993 R&D 100 awards: technology's brightest stars: these winners sparkle!
Get ready for an absorbant that "sweeps" up oil spills. And for a non-toxic compound that cleans your swimming pool better than chlorine.
Prepare also to meet Mr. SQUID and a galaxy of other dazzling R&D 100 Award winners.
But before turning the page, shield your eyes.
1993 R&D 100 Award Winners
Organization Page AECL Research 26 Air Products and Chemicals 34
Allison Gas Turbine Div., General Motors Corp. 57
Analytical Genetic Testing Center Inc. 33
Laboratory (DOE) 45, 70 Aurora Technologies Corp. 66 Balzers AG 74 Battelle Memorial Institute 42 Bellcore 53, 58
BGK Finishing Systems Inc.,
an Illinois Tool Works Co. 57 BioVentures Inc. 34 BOC Group 65 Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. 65
Laboratory (DOE) 69 Cannon Instrument Co. 66 Cargill Corp. 62 Centech Inc. 46 Chromex Inc. 29 Conductus Inc. 41 Continental Optical Corp. 69 Cornell University 62
Generation 50 DaCo Technologies Inc. 73 Difco Laboratories Inc. 65 EG&G Rotron 46
Electric Power Research Institute 45, 57, 61
EPRI Center for
Materials Production 57 First Brands Corp. 30 Ford Motor Co. 30 Gaertner Scientific Corp. 57 Gatan Inc. 53 Glas-Col 34
& Rubber Co. 62 Harris Semiconductor 45
Research Inc. 65 Hewlett-Packard Co. 37, 61 Hitachi Cable Ltd. 37 Hitachi Ltd. 37
Idaho National Engineering
Laboratory (DOE) 46 Inco Ltd. 62 Indiana University 26
and Light Co 57 Intevac Inc. 74 Jet Propulsion Laboratory 66 J&W Scientific 26 Kenetech Corp. 45 Kindbrisk Ltd. 26 Lam Research Corp. 73
Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (DOE) 62, 69
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
(DOE) 53, 61, 69 Leybold AG 74 Life Technologies Inc. 33
Los Alamos National Laboratory
(DOE) 29, 33, 34, 58 LT Industries Inc. 54
Martin Marietta Energy
Systems Inc. (DOE) 49 Mas-Hamilton Group 41
Industrial Co. Ltd. 41 Mitsubishi Electric Corp. 38
Mitsubishi Electric Corp. Communication
Equipment Works 38 MTS Systems Corp. 30 Nanoptics 62 N. Jonas & Co. Inc. 41
NASA Langley Research Center 37, 73
NASA Lewis Research
Center 54 NASA Life Sciences Div. 50 National Cancer Institute 65
National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (USDA)
National Institute of
Standards & Technology 33 National Instruments 69
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (DOE) 42, 66, 73
Naval Postgraduate School 50
New Energy Co.
of Indiana 42 New Focus Inc. 58
New York State Energy R&D Authority 49
Power Corp. 45 Noranda Inc. 54
North American Philips Corp. 38
North Star Research Corp. 42
Oak Ridge National
Laboratory (DOE) 33, 54 Ohio State University 62 Olin Corp. 50, 62
Systems Inc. 29 Pacific Gas & Electric Co. 45
Laboratory (DOE) 46, 57 Peachtree Scientific Inc. 54
Electronics 41 Philips Laboratories 38
Power Discrete Product
Development 45 PracSys Corp. 42 Promega Corp. 33 PSE&G 61 R&D Solutions 49 Reliant Laser Corp. 58 Research Genetics 34 Robotron Corp. 30
Laboratories (DOE) 37, 50, 73 Sanchem Inc. 49 Sea Sweep Inc. 49
Environments USA 38 Sensar Corp. 29 Sheldahl Inc. 70 Sunpower Inc. 50 Tessera Inc. 70 Textron Specialty Materials 57 Thermacore Inc. 50 Thermalock Products Inc. 49 TN Technologies Inc. 46
Toyota Central R&D
Laboratories Inc. 26, 42 Toyota Motor Corp. 42
Systems 50 TRI Inc. 53 United Catalyst Inc. 49 U.S. Army, ARDEC 69 U.S. Bureau of Mines (DOI) 54
UC Santa Barbara Center
for Particle Astrophysics 53 University of South Carolina 34 University of Washington 62 Valence Technology Inc. 45 Varian Associates Inc. 74 VLF Magnetic Systems 54
Westinghouse Electric Corp. 30, 61
Westinghouse Electronic Systems Group 30
(USAF) 57 WYKO Corp. 69
Science Inc. 46
* The Ultrafast Infrared Spectrometer was originally developed to observe how molecules store light and convert it to other forms of energy. The instrument detects changes in molecular structure that occur in very short times - 100 femtoseconds to 10 nanoseconds. It is beginning to find wide applications in chemistry, the biosciences, and materials research.
The spectrometer functions by generating two extremely short (picosecond) pulses of light, one in the visible region of the spectrum and the other in the infrared. The visible pulse initiates a chemical reaction. Then the infrared pulse measures the ultrafast changes that occur in molecular structure during the reaction.
Los Alamos (NM) National Laboratory (DOE). Research team.
* The OLIS RSM Spectrometer is a research tool that lets chemists take snapshots of rapidly changing chemical reactions. It opens a new UV/Vis/NIR window to the way chemical reactions occur.
Using a subtractive form of a double monochromator with a moving intermediate slit, the system achieves scan rates of 300,000 nm/ sec with excellent spectral resolution and high light throughput. Each 200 nm scan takes only one millisecond.
Applications include the detection and analysis of components in rapidly varying reaction mixtures and the study of flash photolysis of chemical reactions.
On-line Instrument Systems Inc., Bogart, GA. Richard Desa.
* The TOF 1000 Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometer brings new levels of sensitivity and selectivity to the task of environmental monitoring. It can check for toxic vapors in the workplace and at hazardous waste sites, and monitor effluent streams associated with manufacturing operations. Its high speed of operation also allows it to be used to detect explosives and illegal drugs.
The system ionizes samples at ambient pressure using an efficient corona discharge. In addition to its exceptional sensitivity and selectivity, the system can generate a complete mass spectrum within 200 [mu]sec, due to its unique ion beam configuration. Such high speed is critical to real-time vapor monitoring and chromatographic detection.
To facilitate sample handling, various separation techniques such as gas or liquid chromatography, supercritical fluid chromatography, or capillary electrophoresis can be coupled to the system.
Sensar Corp., Sandy, UT. Milton Lee, Chung Hang Sin, and Edgar Lee.
* The Raman One Spectrometer can analyze chemical samples even through sealed glass vials and plastic blister packs, which should greatly speed quality assurance testing in the pharmaceutical industry. The instrument's extremely high sensitivity will also aid biochemists in determining the structure and reactivity of enzymes and other biochemical molecules.
As a laser beam strikes the sample, the instrument acquires Raman spectra, which indicate changes in the polarizability of nonpolar bonds as the molecules vibrate.
Extremely high sensitivity is achieved by using several noise and background minimizing techniques, such as special holographic notch filters to block Rayleigh scattering and two-dimensional CCD array detectors.
Chromex Inc., Albuquerque, NM. Georges Bret, Gene Watson, and Richard McCreery.
* A car engine's oil consumption can cause emission control components to fail, so automotive engineers watch it closely.
The Robotron S02 Analyzer measures oil consumption by determining the sulfur concentration in engine exhaust. Engine oil normally has about 0.5% sulfur, which is just fine for the Robotron, but not for competing instruments.
These require using engine oil that's specially formulated to have more than 2% sulfur by weight. The trouble with that is hi -sulfur oil promotes engine wear that wouldn't normally occur.
The [SO.sub.2] analyzer passes a fraction of the exhaust stream through an oxidation catalyst, which converts all the sulfur to S02, and then through an electrochemical cell, which produces a measurable current in direct proportion to the mass Of S02 in the exhaust stream. On the basis of the measured current, the instrument provides a readout of consumed oil in grams.
Ford Motor Co., Allen Park, MI, and Robotron Corp., Southfield, MI. Keith Carduner, Alex Colvin, and Dick Leong.
* Every year, 400 million gallons of automotive and heavy duty antifreeze coolant are disposed of. But it doesn't have to be that way.
The Prestone ProClean Coolant Recycler transforms used ethylene glycol- and propylene glycol-based coolants into usable coolants. Waste product from the process is converted to a nonhazardous, nonleachable material.
Stages of the chemical treatment process are illustrated below. From left: used antifreeze coolant before treatment; coolant after chemicals have been added; and treated antifreeze with waste on the surface. At this stage, the coolant is passed through a coarse filter, a carbon bed, and a resin exchange bed. Then reinhibitors are added to produce a fully formulated, stable coolant.
First Brands Corp., Danbury, CT. Aleksei Gershun, Stephen Woodward, and Peter Woyciesjes.
* Engineers can now measure previously unmeasurable and difficult-to-measure vehicle performance characteristics on the Flat-Trac Roadway Simulator.
It has four moving roadways, one under each tire. Through pivoting and vertical displacement, the moving roadways dynamically simulate the road surface at the car's four corners. The system can simulate many test track conditions, including hills, turns, and banked turns.
The simulator can be used for tests on noise and vibration, ride quality, driveline performance, tire wear, and more.
MTS Systems Corp., Eden Prairie, MN. William Langer and Franklin Dalling.
* The Westinghouse Power Train for Electric Vehicles replaces a conventional car's internal combustion engine and transmission.
The power train contains an ac induction motor that features high power density-110 [hp/ft.sup.3] with a 230 V source. The motor provides better acceleration and higher top speeds than competitive ac induction and dc brushless systems.
The device accepts input from any dc power source and is insensitive to variations in the source voltage. That means it can be used with battery energy or a variety of hybrid schemes, including heat engine/generator combinations.
The high-speed (11,000 rpm) motor drives the wheels through a single constant gear ratio, so a gear-shifting transmission is not needed.
Westinghouse Science & Technology Center, Pittsburgh, and Westinghouse Electronic Systems Group, Baltimore. Research team.
Bioscience & Pharmaceuticals
* The fruit fly Drosophila is among the most useful and frequently studied organisms in genetic research, and will be sequenced as part of the Human Genome Project. Some 10,000 to 30,000 genetic strains of Drosophila are maintained worldwide. Adults of each strain are bred continuously at two-week intervals to maintain these stocks.
These methods are costly, and they introduce scientific problems: Incorrectly identified flies can contaminate the strains, and spontaneous mutations can introduce genetic drift. A cheaper and more reliable approach would be to maintain Drosophila embryos in a cryogenic state and revive them when needed for experiments.
Although such an approach has been used in nematodes and mice for years, technical problems had prevented more than about 0.5% of the Drosophila embryos from surviving the freeze. The new Cryopreservation of Drosophila Process increases that figure to 25% by carefully controlling the embryos' developmental stage at the time of freezing.
Oak Ridge (TN) National Laboratory (DOE). Peter Mazur.
* Living cells naturally translate proteins from the DNA that codes for them. Small amounts of protein can also be translated in vitro in cellular extracts called lysates. This usually requires two time-intensive steps: converting DNA into the corresponding messenger RNA (mRNA), and then adding the MRNA to the proper lysate.
The process is especially cumbersome for eukaryotic (animal, plant, and yeast) cells. TNT Coupled Reticulocyte Lysate Systems combine these steps into a single procedure for eukaryotic cells, eliminating much of the time and effort involved.
The TNT systems produce protein directly from genes under the control of phage T3, T7, or SP6 RNA polymerase promoters in a single tube. Researchers save 20% to 50% in the time it takes to visualize the results.
Promega Corp., Madison, WI. Dave Thomson and Tom Van Oosbree.
* Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) were looking for standards to test the many different DNA-fingerprinting techniques for accuracy and reproducibility. The scientists determined that a set of protocols developed at the Federal Bureau of Investigation were sufficiently robust to be considered as standard methods."
Now refined and called the Standard Reference Material 2390 "DNA Profiling Standard," the product will enable labs to determine the precision and accuracy of their DNA testing within a narrow margin of error.
NIST and Life Technologies, Gaithersburg, MD, and Analytical Genetic Testing Center, Denver. Dennis Reeder, Kristy Richie, and Jennifer Colbert.
* Flow cytometry is a way of rapidly sorting cells based on specific features - for example, fluorochromes bound to target receptors. Such fluorescent probes" have faced limitations, however, since the spectra of fluorochromes often overlap.
The Phase-Sensitive Flow Cytometer overcomes some of these limitations by monitoring not only the fluorescence spectra, but also their lifetimes. Since overlapping spectra often have different lifetimes, the cytometer can then resolve the two probes.
The invention uses electronics to convert phase shifts to lifetimes (diagram).
Los Alamos (NM) National Laboratory (DOE). John Steinkamp and Harry Crissman.
* Fluorinated steroids and nucleosides have pharmaceutical uses in treating skin disorders, cancers, and viral diseases such as AIDS. Unfortunately, these fluorinated organic molecules often must be synthesized with complex, multi-step processes.
SELECTFLUOR eliminates much of the muss and fuss in this process, since it is a chemical reagent that safely and selectively transfers a fluorine atom to a specific position in a complex organic molecule.
The product is electrophilic, acting as a source of [F.sup.+], which can react in a predictable manner with many electron-rich organic substrates.
A major advantage of SELECTFLUOR is its stability in air. Some previous fluorinating agents were explosive.
Air Products and Chemicals, Allentown, PA. Research team.
* Breaking open cells and fragmenting large molecules like DNA are tasks performed daily in every biotech lab. The Bio-Neb Cell Disruption System uses a process called nebulization to achieve this task in a precisely controlled way and at much lower pressures than previously possible.
Nebulizaton of the liquid carrying the cells or molecules occurs by driving it against a small sphere at 100 to 150 psi. Shear forces in the resulting droplets efficiently break up the cells or molecules. Previous techniques, such as the Yeda Press, often required 1,000 psi to achieve similar efficiencies.
Glas-Col, Terre Haute, IN. Stefan Surzycki, Robert Togasaki, and Masahiko Kitayama.
* The polymerase chain reaction (PCR), which generates copies of DNA and RNA molecules in numerous applications, is in constant use all over the world. But one of PCR's drawbacks is the need to obtain the molecules in a relatively pure form before amplification.
GeneReleaser is a proprietary reagent that solves some of those problems. The product releases DNA and RNA from cells and sequesters cell debris-which could inhibit the reaction-in as little as 5 min, compared to preparations taking hours or days with existing methods.
Bioventures, Murfreesboro, TN, and Research Genetics, Huntsville, AL. Elliott Dawson and James Hudson.
* Many drugs are chiral - that is, they consist of right- and left-handed molecular forms. The different forms of a chiral molecule are called enantiomers, which can differ greatly in their pharmacological effects. The notorious drug thalidomide, for example, is now believed to have been dispensed as a mixture of enantiomers, one of which eased morning sickness while the other caused birth defects.
Enantiomers are so similar structurally that they are often impossible to differentiate with standard analytical methods. When the Selenium-based Reagents for the Evaluation of Chiral Molecular Structures are reacted with the enantiomers of a drug, they are rendered chemically and physically different so that separate peaks appear in the selenium-77 nuclear magnetic resonance spectra.
Los Alamos (NM) National Laboratory (DOE) and Univ. of South Carolina, Columbia. Louis Silks III, Jerome Odom, and R. Bruce Dunlap.
Computers & Software
* Parallel computers, high-resolution graphics, multimedia, and network backbones are among the many application areas that could immediately benefit from inexpensive, compact, easy-to-use gigabit data links. (A gigabit equals one billion bits of information.) The Hewlett-packard HMDP-1000, known as "G-link," is the only such link on the market.
It consists of a pair of integrated circuits that were fabricated using a new 25 Ghz silicon bipolar process. G-link allows users to design standard printed circuit boards interfacing to G-link through a low-speed parallel interface. G-link then handles, on chip, all issues dealing with multiplexing, coding, phase-locked loops, integrators, and all other gigabit-rate circuitry. No external parts or adjustments are required, allowing users unfamiliar with gigabit design techniques simple access to a high-rate data link.
Hewlett-Packard Company, Communications Components Div., San Jose, CA. Research team.
* Before computer analysis can be applied to the design of any complex tool or object, it has to be subdivided into an appropriate, customized geometric "mesh." Creating this mesh is often one of the most time-consuming parts of a programming project.
The Paving Mesh Generation Algorithm is a standardized way of automatically generating the appropriate meshes in arbitrary geometries, saving the programmer's time for more creative pursuits. The new software algorithm meshes an arbitrary 3-D surface with an all-quadrilateral mesh.
Four industrial companies have joined with Sandia National Labs to create a mesh-generation software consortium. They are: Ford Motor Co., Dearborn, MI; Fluid Dynamics Intl., Evanston, IL; PDA Engineering, Costa Mesa, CA; and MacNeal-Schwendler Corp., Milwaukee and Los Angeles.
The consortium's goal is to reduce the time required for computer-aided design of vehicles and other industrial products.
Sandia National Laboratories (DOE), Albuquerque, NM. Teddy Blacker, Ray Meyers, and Michael Stephenson
* The Hitachi Optical Fiber Gyro is for automotive navigational systems. It detects vehicle rotations, and a one-chip microcomputer analyzes the data to provide the vehicle's azimuth.
The first commercially available automotive gyro based on fiber optics, it has already been installed as the azimuth sensor of certain Toyota vehicles.
The gyro improves on existing automotive navigation systems through its polarization-maintaining fibers, which result in fine resolution, low drift, and high accuracy.
Hitachi Ltd. and Hitachi Cable Ltd., Tokyo, Japan. Hiroshi Kajioka, Shigeru Oho, and Toshio Katsuyama.
* Wind shear - a violent, rapid downdraft - is a serious threat to aircraft. Current wind shear detection systems can create false readings when the airplane is turning.
NASA's Airborne In Situ Wind Shear Detection Algorithm uses existing aircraft inertial and air data sensors to determine wind shear intensity-even when the aircraft is making a curved landing approach.
After more than 100 hours of in-flight operation, the NASA algorithm produced no false alarms, even with severe maneuvering.
The algorithm has been successfully tested on a Boeing 737-100 aircraft under actual microburst conditions and has been accepted for use by at least one maker of turbulence prediction systems.
NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA. Roland Bowles, Rosa Osequera, and Paul Robinson.
* The MELFAS F1 is the world's fastest fax machine and the first practical image communication product to use arithmetic coding. For text-type documents, it reduces transmission time by 30%, compared to other fax machines. For half-tone documents, transmission time can be reduced by 95%, depending on the image and the half-toning method.
Mitsubishi Electric Corp. Communication Systems Laboratory, Kamakura City, Japan, and Mitsubishi Electric Corp. Communication Equipment Works, Amagasaki, Japan. Fumitaka Ono, Takayoshi Semasa, and Masaru Kaneda.
* Couch potatoes, listen up. VECTOR (Video Echo Cancellation Technique for Optimum Reception) is for you, particularly if you are having reception problems.
VECTOR eliminates TV ghosts," as seen below in the image on the right. The multiple images are caused by multipath echoes.
The VECTOR receiver characterizes the ghosting channel and cancels the ghosts using an adaptive filter.
To facilitate channel characterization, a broadcasting station transmits a ghost cancellation reference (GCR) signal. The receiver compares the ghosted version of the GCR with a clear, stored replica of the same signal. A digital signal processor chip inside the receiver uses special algorithms to calculate coefficients that are fed to the digital adaptive filter, which cancels the ghosts.
North American Philips Corp., Manlius, NY, and Philips Laboratories, Briarcliff Manor, NY. David Koo, Craig Greenberg, and Chikiang Tung.
* One reason gas station restrooms are often filthy is that nobody wants the job of cleaning them. The Self-Cleaning Restroom, however, doesn't put up a fuss.
The restroom features walls that fold into a small enclosure, but leave the toilet paper outside. Dishwasher-like jets spray water and soap onto the walls and Self-cleaning restroom plumbing fixtures. (One jet extends into the toilet from below the sink to clean under the rim.)
Rinse and dry cycles follow. The whole process takes less than 25 min.
An attendant with a special key must close the unit and start the process, so there is no chance that the restroom will automatically sanitize an unsuspecting patron.
Determining placement of the spray heads was a design challenge, the inventor says.
Amoco is installing the units in its gas stations. Restaurants, hospitals, hotels, and public facilities may follow suit. Units for homes might be offered in a few years.
Self-cleaning Environments USA, Santa Monica, CA. Glenwood Garvey.
OATRIM is a fat substitute derived from oats. It replaces fat in foods while imparting many of the natural qualities of fat content.
The product is an oat maltodextrin that contains about 5% beta-glucan soluble fiber. It is produced by biochemically degrading oat flour with a food-grade alpha amylase enzyme.
A mixture composed of 25% OATRIM and 75% water by weight will form a thermoreversible gel that can be used as a 1:1 substitute for fat or oil. One cal/g of hydrated OATRIM replaces 9 cal/g of oil.
OATRIM is already being used in more than 40 foods, including meats, frozen desserts, salad dressings, sauces, gravies, soups, mayonnaise, margarine, cookies, and cakes.
National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (USDA), Peoria, IL. George Inglett.
Approaching the ideal power switch, the Discrete Semiconductor Power Switching Device provides high blocking voltage in the off state, zero conduction losses when on, and fast switching capabilities. It combines the conduction and voltage blocking properties of a thyristor with the convenience and low energy gate requirements of voltagecontrolled MOS gated devices.
Applications for this device include every power switching application from motor control, power supplies, power conversion, electric vehicles, discharge circuits, and actuators.
Harris Semiconductor, Latham, NY, and Power Discrete Product Development, Mountaintop, PA. Victor Temple.
The 33 Meter Variable Speed Wind Turbine (33M-VS) is 40% more efficient in converting the wind's mechanical energy to electricity than comparable wind technologies. This major advance provides a renewable energy source that is cost competitive with traditional energy generating technologies when compared on a life-cycle basis.
A variable drive system allows the wind turbine's generator to output electricity at a variable frequency, to greatly reduce mechanical loads. The variable frequency electricity is then converted to 60 Hz so it can be fed to a commercial electrical grid.
Kenetech Corp., Oakland, CA, Electric Power Research Institute, Palo Alto, CA, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., San Ramon, CA, and Niagara Mohawk Power Corp., Syracuse, NY. Research team.
A high-temperature battery for electric * cars now appears feasible, thanks to Sulfide Ceramic Materials. These are a new class of ceramics based on sulfides instead of the conventional oxides, nitrides, and borides. They can be used to couple metal components for electrical insulation in severely corrosive, high-temperature environments where most ceramic materials fail.
Sulfide ceramics are also useful in certain molten salt processes requiring corrosion-resistant materials, and as porous ceramic frits and ceramic structures.
As a coupling and sealing material, sulfide ceramics form a strong reaction bond with a Sulfide Ceramics broad range of metal components by effectively melting, wetting, and attacking the metal surface.
Argonne (IL) National Laboratory (DOE). Research team.
Smaller size, lighter weight, and four times longer-lasting charge for extended operating time are some of the outstanding features of these Advanced Rechargeable Batteries Based Upon Lithium and Polymer Technologies.
With lithium metal as the anode and a solid polymeric material as the electrolyte, these batteries are produced in a thin laminate to virtually any desired shape. The thin cells can be folded, rolled, or stacked, depending on the application.
Portable electronics, including computers, cellular telephones, camcorders, and even handheld power tools, should benefit greatly from these batteries. As a result of their higher energy density, they may find their way into automobiles, and should have sufficient discharge capability to last the life of a vehicle.
Lithium polymer batteries may also permit electrical utilities to store energy produced at off-peak periods for later release during peak demand. By using batteries for load leveling, utilities should be able to reduce the need for new generating capacity. Valence Technology Inc., San Jose, CA. Dale Shackle.
DataGator. Say it fast and it sounds like a very unpleasant proposition.
But whether city maintenance officials are dating guys, gals, or gators, the device should come as a pleasant surprise, since it is a portable, easily installed flowmeter designed to operate in sewers with high accuracy under all flow conditions.
Such measurements are important in assessing sewer systems' leaks and possible need for repair. Other flowmeters are accurate under either "open channel" (partially full) conditions or full conditions, but not both.
The Datagator achieves this feat with electronics that convert point flow measurements into volume rates. The conversion utilizes equations developed by a flow lab associated with the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
TN Technologies, Round Rock, TX, and Yellowstone Environmental Science, Bozeman, MT. Research team.
Tiny bubbles," runs the old song, "in It wine/Make me happy, make me feel fine." Change the bubbles to tiny lightning bolts and the wine into hazardous waste, and you are starting to develop an appreciation of the High-Energy Corona Reactor, an invention that certainly has the potential to make environmentalists happy one day.
An intense electric field - about 12,000 V/ cm - causes a visible corona, which is indeed analogous to a collection of tiny lightning bolts. The corona destroys hazardous organic compounds at concentrations as high as 2,000 ppm. The compounds are destroyed in less than a second in the gas phase.
The cost of the energy consumed in destroying a kilogram of waste in the corona reactor is estimated at 77 cents, compared to $50 to $100 with standard technology.
Pacific Northwest Laboratory (DOE), Richland, WA. William Heath and Jud Virden.
My unit is not real fancy and pretty," says Neal Miller, developer of a portable, continuous, three-phase centrifuge for cleaning up oil sludge. "But it works and has served very well in many different and remote locations and facilities."
The Centech Three-Phase Type I separates usable oil and relatively clean water from sludge pits, the dumping ground for sludge that collects at the bottom of crude oil tanks. The sludge is a three-phase mixture of solids (such as sand and sediment), water, and oil. Estimates of the quantity of oil added to sludge pits each year in the U.S. are as high as 2.5 million barrels.
The recovered oil is pipeline-quality, marketable crude, and the water can be used in oil production with minimal treatment. Centech, Casper, WY. Neal Miller.
The Biocube Aerobic Biofilter is a mobile device containing microbes that digest toxic gases and vapors pumped from contaminated soil using wells and vacuum blowers.
The bugs thrive in a proprietary medium in modular trays, degrading the organic gases and vapors into [CO.sub.2] and water. The modular design permits tailoring of the Biocube for specific needs. And, since the bugs are literally eating the toxic material for lunch, the Biocube can operate happily and efficiently for long periods with little supervision.
In their R&D 100 Award entry, the developers stated that other biofilters "are housesize structures built and loaded on-site. The Biocube is a much smaller, modular biofilter which is fabricated at the manufacturing plant and shipped intact."
Idaho National Engineering Laboratory (DOE), Idaho Falls, and EG&G Rotron, Saugerties, NY. Research team.
The [C1.sub.2EAN] OUT Catalyst and Process is a simple and safe way to dechlorinate wastewater streams catalytically, creating no secondary environmental problems. The process eliminates hypochlorite (chlorine bleach) in a single pass at ambient temperatures, and the resulting effluent - largely salt and oxygen - can be recovered and recycled.
Chlorine is ranked eighth in overall production worldwide and is used in many industrial processes and municipal treatment facilities. Waste hypochlorite is generated when airborne chlorine emissions are treated with caustic scrubbers to comply with environmental standards.
The catalyst is less expensive to use than competitive systems, the developer says.
Martin Marietta Energy Systems Inc. (DOE) and R&D Solutions, Oak Ridge, TN, and United Catalyst, Louisville, KY. Research team.
The mandated phase-out of toxic, chromate conversion coatings has industry looking high and low for chromate-free alternatives. Until the Sanchem Safeguard CC Conversion Coating, however, none of the alternatives could provide the necessary paint adhesion and corrosion resistance.
The Sanchem process creates a thin film of aluminum and manganese oxides on a clean aluminum surface - for example, that of aircraft exteriors. This coating yields paint adhesion and corrosion resistance on a par with chromate products, but without the attendant environmental headaches.
The coating might also be appropriate as a non-chromate seal for anodized surfaces.
A Navy evaluation stated that out of a number of proposed non-chromate conversion coatings, only Sanchem's "showed promise as a viable replacement" for chromate.
Sanchem Inc., Chicago. John Bibber.
The developers of ThermaLock Blocks humbly stated in their R&D 100 entry that with their product, "there are no sophisticated electronics at work, no quantum physics coming into play, and no moving parts. But we feel, as did the ancient Greeks, that there is beauty in simplicity."
That statement mirrors the comment of one admiring judge, who exclaimed: "People had been making cinder blocks the same way since the time of the Romans!"
No more. These blocks eliminate the concrete "web" between the blocks of a wall through use of interlocking polystyrene inserts that double the wall's insulating value.
Thermalock Products, North Tonawanda, NY, and New York State Energy R&D Authority, Albany, NY. Francis Kennedy, Kenneth Blake, and John Neff.
Oil-spill cleanup techniques are often a case of a cure that is worse than the disease. Chemical and mineral absorbents are often difficult to collect and dispose of, and just plain unpleasant if they wash up on your beach.
By contrast, Sea Sweep is an oleophilic (oil absorbing) and hydrophobic (water repelling, so it floats) material produced by heating sawdust or woodchips in a controlled atmosphere. Appropriate for small- to medium-size spills,
Sea Sweep will absorb 3.5 times its weight in oil, or 1,000 gal/ton. The floating material is then easy to collect and can be safely burned as fuel. Sea Sweep Inc., Denver. Thomas Reed and William Mobeck.
Journalists are likely to feel unneeded when coming face to face with the simple description that the developers of 01 Process Technologies give of their invention:
"The primary function of the 01 Process Technologies is to reduce absorbable organic halides (AOX) from the pulp bleaching process. The term AOX encompasses a multitude of chlorinated organics including dioxins, furons, chlorophenols, etc.
"While these technologies reduce AOX by almost an order of magnitude compared to existing technologies, they do not generate any waste of their own."
The first process catalytically reduces chloric acid to chlorine dioxide and oxygen. The second process performs pulp bleaching.
Olin Corp., Charleston, TN. Sudhir Mendiratta and David Cawlfield.
The loudspeakers inside the Thermo-Acoustic Life Sciences Refrigerator (TALSR) won't play Cool Blues, but they will keep your specimens chilled. The TALSR uses the thermoacoustic effect, by which intense sound can pump heat down a tube. Outside the cooling element itself, however, the TALSR is quieter than a conventional refrigerator.
The device, which uses no chlorofluorocarbons, was developed for use on the space shuttle, but some day may find a wider market. Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA, NASA Life Sciences Div., Houston, and TRI/Actran Systems, Orlando, FL. Steven Garrett, David Perkins, and D. Filipe Gaitan.
The Model 678 Gatan Imaging Filter is a spectroscopic imaging instrument that attaches to transmission electron microscopes.
It can be used to enhance contrast in diffraction patterns and in the imaging of thick specimens in biology and materials science. Other uses include elemental mapping, electron energy-loss spectroscopy, and the quantitative interpretation of electron microscope images.
Above, the top pair of images show convergent beam electron diffraction patterns recorded at 200 ke V from a thin silicon specimen. The bottom pair show a thick silicon specimen. The images on the right are the filtered patterns.
Gatan Inc., Pleasanton, CA. Ondrej Krivanek, Sander Gubbens, and Niklas Dellby.
Without any moving parts, the Omniview system accomplishes pan, tilt, rotation, and magnification of a video image in real time, while providing simultaneous multiple screen images.
The Omniview system converts the video image provided by one camera into multiple "virtual" camera images using a proprietary parallel processing system that performs these operations at rates exceeding the equivalent of 500 million computer instructions per second, the manufacturer says.
Omniview can be used in security, medical endoscopy, teleconferencing, remote vehicular operation, and interactive television. TRI Inc., Knoxville, TN. Research team.
The Electronic Panning Camera allows users a new degree of freedom in their ability to interact with, and control, their viewing of televised information.
The system enables viewers to independently pan left and right at will. That means when the Super Bowl is on, for example, your friend could follow the quarterback while you follow the cheerleaders.
The camera is composed of several miniature video cameras whose fields of view have been electronically seamed together to form a broad field of view.
In practice, the high-bandwidth signal representing the full panoramic view would be delivered to the viewer's local telephone switching office. Phone wires would deliver the signal to a viewer's TV via a special panning circuit in the viewer's home.
Bellcore, Morristown, NJ. Research team.
Cosmic dark matter is a mystery the MACHO Camera System was designed to help solve. A question to be answered is whether MACHOs are made up of the enigmatic stuff. (MACHO - massive compact halo object - is a generic term for all dark, massive objects in the Milky Way.)
The system combines the large digital image volume (34 million pixels) of a CCD mosaic with high-speed electronics and automated data processing and archiving.
If MACHOs contain dark matter, this system will detect a characteristic photometric signature. If no such signature is seen, then MACHOs may be eliminated as candidates for the dark matter.
The system's CCD imagers are the square devices at the top of the image below.
Lawrence Livermore (CA) National Lab (DOE) and UC Santa Barbara Center for Particle Astrophysics. Research team.
The Powerscan Process Analyzer is a near-infrared device for analyzing products such as pharmaceutical tablets as they are being manufactured - and it can do so as much as 100 times faster than mechanical systems.
In one demonstration, the Powerscan was able to analyze pharmaceutical tablets for content uniformity in less than 5 sec - without having to dissolve the tablets or otherwise re are the samples.
The device, which is unique in employing InGaAs technology in its diode array, works equally well with solids and liquids. It could also find use in the analysis of textiles, films, extruded materials, cheese, tobacco, and coffee.
LT Industries Inc., Rockville, MD. Isaac Landa and Michael Anthony.
The Omnidirectional Holonomic Platform (OHP) is a mobile platform for robotic vehicles. It employs a novel "orthogonal wheels" assembly that permits normal traction in one direction while being freewheeling in the perpendicular direction.
Unlike conventional robotic systems that use steered wheels, the OHP steers with no sliding on the rolling surface.
The device, which has attracted interest from several industrial users, could be used in autonomous robots that must operate in crowded spaces - in wheel chairs, vacuum cleaners, factory-floor transport vehicles, and all-terrain vehicles.
Oak Ridge (TN) National Lab (DOE). Francois Pin and Stephen Killough.
The Canary wireless mine messenger communication and emergency warning system can warn miners about impending danger, such as fires or methane gas accumulations.
It can also transmit information about mining operations from the surface to miners below.
The Canary system operates on the principle of through-the-earth transmission of ultralow frequency electromagnetic fields. Messages are sent to tiny receivers built into the cap lamp battery cases carried underground by every miner.
Power for the receiver is supplied by the cap lamp battery, and the mine worker is alerted to an incoming message by both a blinking cap lamp and a buzzer.
Before the Canary system, mine warning technology was limited to telephones and audible, visible, or smell systems, which were often slow or unreliable. The Canary device has been successfully tested in five mines.
U.S. Bureau of Mines (DOI), Twin Cities Research Center, Minneapolis; Noranda Inc., Pointe Claire, Quebec; and VLF Magnetic Systems, Scarborough, Ontario.
The Pioneer II Melt Modulation Fiber Growth System is a process for growing single crystal fibers for aerospace applications and other research studies.
Pioneer II is a reliable research system for investigating high-strength, high-temperature fibers. Such materials are of paramount importance in the development of the National Aerospace Plane, HITEMP (NASA's high-temperature engine materials program), NASA's Enabling Propulsion Materials program, and DOE's Continuous Fiber Ceramic Composites program.
Applications of the materials made possible by this device range from external actively cooled heat shields to internal engine assemblies. The system provides researchers with the capability to experiment with many known materials in the growth and evaluation of fibers for high-temperature composite applications.
Peachtree Scientific Inc., Cartersville, GA, and NASA Lewis Research Center, Cleveland. Wayne Penn, Leonard Westfall, and Ali Sayir.
The X-07 Lock is a computer-controlled combination lock that replaces mechanical combination locks for high-security applications.
The X-07's microcomputer provides up to 500 billion usable combinations, compared with 300,000 for a standard mechanical combination lock.
The microcomputer can tell you how many times the lock has been opened, as well as the number of unsuccessful attempts since the last opening. The microcomputer also senses and defeats robotic manipulation.
Mas-Hamilton Group, Lexington, KY. Jimmy Hamilton, Gerald Dawson, and Tom Cassada.
Now that you're finally used to CDs, here comes the digital compact cassette.
The RS-DC10 Digital Compact Cassette Player/Recorder is a digital recording system that uses only 25% of the information on a CD but yields a dynamic range equal to or better than a CD's.
The system employs a low-bit audio encoding technology that records only what people can hear. Because this method uses less data, tape space is freed for other uses, such as information storage for titles and lyrics.
The player is compatible with existing analog tapes.
Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd., Osaka, Japan, and Philips Consumer Electronics, Eindhoven, Netherlands. Ted Abe.
Chlorine in a swimming pool can irritate eyes, discolor hair, and smell bad.
An alternative is Sildate, a safe, non-toxic, chlorine-free compound that disinfects swimming pools and hot tubs.
The anti-pathogenic properties of Sildate are attributed to electron activity intrinsic to crystals of tetrasilver tetroxide, which contain two monovalent and two trivalent silver ions in each molecular crystal. These molecules of Sildate release electrons that effectively electrocute" pathogens.
At concentrations as low as 0.5 ppm, Sildate kills 100% of both Streptococcus faecalis and E. Coli (at 100,000/cm) within 3 min.
N. Jonas & Co. Inc., Bensalem, PA. Marvin Antelman.
Superconductivity is an important physical phenomenon that's difficult to completely comprehend. But it's easier to understand with help from Mr. SQUID.
Mr. SQUID - a superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID) magnetometer system - is designed to demonstrate the quantum effects of superconductors to undergraduate students.
The magnetometer system consists of a high-temperature superconductor thin film SQUID sensor chip mounted on a probe with removable magnetic shielding, a batteryoperated electronics control box, and a vacuum dewar flask.
The SQUID itself is an yttrium barium copper oxide superconducting ring with two Josephson junctions. Conductus Inc., Sunnyvale, CA. Research team.
The Dual-Motion Actuator is an electromechanical device that can produce two different types of motion - axial thrust and rotation - from a single, compact unit. These motions can be performed independently or combined as part of the same action.
The automobile industry could benefit greatly from this product. For example, it could replace the two separate actuators that control the door locks and power windows, and the three motors that are required for the up-down, forward-back, and tilt movements of the power seat. As a result, material and labor costs should decrease substantially.
In addition, this dual-action motor could replace the starter motor and solenoid on small engines such as those used on lawn tractors, and aid power hammer drills, which rely on a combination of rotation and thrust to drill through concrete.
Battelle Memorial Institute, Columbus, OH. James Dvorsky.
The Combustion Pressure Sensor is a sensing device for controlling gas combustion inside an automobile's engine.
For the first time, a combustion sensor can be an integral part of the engine, operating under severe thermal and mechanical conditions to accurately and rapidly detect combustion pressures. The sensor is being used to reduce [NO.sub.x] by 30% and improve fuel consumption up to 10% without sacrificing vehicle performance.
Toyota Central R&D Laboratories Inc., Aichi-gun, Aichi-ken, Japan, and Toyota Motor Corp., Toyota, Aichi, Japan. Koji Tukada, Yoshiteru Ohmura, and Masahide Kosugi.
The Nested High Voltage Tandem Accelerator is a direct current accelerator used in creating beams of electrons, protons, neutrons, or heavy ions.
Its principal use is in the production of medical isotopes for positron emission tomography. Another application is semiconductor defect analysis.
Accelerating electrodes are isolated by thin sections of radiation-resistant plastic insulators, allowing the total voltage to be equally divided between the insulators in a nest-like configuration. As a result, individual electrode stages maintain a pre-set fraction of the total voltage across the entire accelerator, even if several stages should fail.
PracSys Corp., Woburn, MA, and North Star Research Corp., Albuquerque, NM. Richard Adler.
Ethanol from Corn Fiber (ECF) is an efficient conversion process that uses fermentation pathways to improve the yield of ethanol obtained from corn, as compared to the traditional dry milling process. Ethanol is a clean-burning fuel that is added to gasoline to significantly lower the emissions from uncombusted carbon compounds.
The technique produces about 13% additional ethanol by converting sugars from residual starch not converted in the typical dry milling process, as well as sugars from the cellulose and hemicellulose fractions of corn. A side stream serves as the medium to support the growth of microorganisms that produce enzymes which hydrolyze the remaining carbohydrate fiber to simple sugars.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (DOE), Golden, CO, and New Energy Co. of Indiana, South Bend. Research team.
Sandia Leads the Pack With 5 Awards
Anyone wanting to learn how federal labs can transfer technology to the private sector should turn to Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM. The Dept. of Energy lab is this year's top winner, with five awards.
Two of Sandia's awards demonstrate its growing role in environmental engineering.
The CPG 7.5-k W Dish-Stirling system is the first commercial application of Stirling engines. The self-contained system provides electricity in remote areas.
The CPG system uses 24 stretch-membrane mirror facets to focus sunlight onto a heatpipe solar receiver. The innovative facets are made of aluminized polymers backed by a slight vacuum to give them the proper curvature. The free-piston Stirling engine converts the thermal energy to mechanical energy and drives an alternator.
Sandia, Cummins Power Generation, Columbus, IN, Sunpower Inc., Athens, OH, and Thermacore, Lancaster, PA. Research team.
At 1 gm in mass and 0.0004 l in volume, the Robust, Wide-Range Hydrogen Microsensor makes George Washington's profile on a quarter look larger than life.
The sensor can detect hydrogen concentrations over six orders of magnitude when the ambient temperature is between - 100 C and 140 C. The sensor can measure concentrations down to 1 ppm.
Sandia. Jose Rodriguez, Robert Hughes, and Wayne Corbert.
* The Metal Matrix Composite (MMC) Reinforced Compressor Rotor is for a high-performance gas turbine engine. It is the first such product that is light in weight yet strong enough to permit the high rotational speeds required for advanced aerodynamic designs.
MMC reinforcement is what permits this combination of high strength and low weight. It is a key technology for the launch of the next generation of high-performance gas turbine aircraft engines.
Allison Gas Turbine Div., General Motors Corp., Indianapolis; Textron Specialty Materials, Lowell, MA; and Wright Laboratories (USAF), Wright Patterson AFB, OH. Richard Zordan, Richard Fannin, and Gordon Doble.
* The Electric Infrared Thermal Sand Reclaimer is an innovative recycling technology with significant environmental and economic benefits.
It is the first method in the world for effectively recycling all types of sand commonly used by foundries to make molds for metal castings - more than 350,000 truckloads of sand each year in the U.S. alone.
The system uses heat - up to 1600 F - to burn off binding materials left in the spent sand after the casting process has been completed, thus rendering the sand reusable.
Its first installation, at a foundry in Indianapolis, will result in an estimated $3 million annual savings to the company. It will also save 1.4 million cubic feet of landfill space each year and cut [CO.sub.2] emissions by 15,600 tons a year.
BGK Finishing Systems Inc., An Illinois Tool Works Co., Minneapolis; Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Palo Alto, CA; EPRI Center for Materials Production, Pittsburgh; and Indianapolis Power and Light Co.
* The StokesMeter quickly and accurately determines the complete polarization characteristics of an unknown input beam.
In contrast to conventional devices that require several operating steps and expensive optical elements, this device is a simple stationary instrument, with no moving parts, that uses only four silicon photodetectors.
The result is a simple, precise, less expensive instrument that can read and display light measurements in 10 msec.
The StokesMeter can be used for polarization measurements on lasers and optical components; to test optical fiber communications systems; and to measure the thickness and optical properties of thin films.
Gaertner Scientific Corp., Chicago. Rasheed M.A. Azzam.
* Bulk materials synthesized from nanometer-size particles have superior physical properties-such as hardness, strength, and ductility - compared to ordinary materials.
The Process for Rapid Thermal Decomposition of Precursors in Solution hydrothermally produces large quantities of uniformly sized, highly crystalline nanoscale powders from aqueous solutions containing dissolved metal salts.
Competing systems can produce only grams per day of nonuniform particles. A lab-scale system using this process can produce up to 5 pounds of powders per day.
The powders are used in precursors for gears and ball bearings, as catalysts, and as additives for advanced composites.
Two companies, United Technologies and Milliken Corp., are collaborating with PNL to prepare the process for commercial use.
Pacific Northwest Laboratory (DOE), Richland, WA. Research team.
Lasers & Electro-Optics
* Increasingly, surgeons are looking to lasers to perform precise medical operations in hard-to-get-at places. Facilitating this trend is the UniMax 2000 Color-Corrected [CO.sub.2]. Laser Micromanipulator, which lets surgeons use just one micromanipulator for various lasers and/or microscopes, rather than a different manipulator for each.
With the UniMax 2000, surgeons can automatically switch from one laser wavelength to another during a surgical procedure. The micromanipulator also has color-corrected optics, which means that its green HeNe aiming laser and invisible [CO.sub.2] Nd:YAG or KTP cutting lasers are always focused at the same point.
Additionally, the UniMax 2000 delivers a 100-[micro]m-dia laser spot - half the size of competitive devices - for more precise cutting.
Reliant Laser Corp., Foster City, CA. Michael Black.
* Many types of light detection and ranging (LIDAR) systems are used to detect air pollutants by optically measuring laser beam interactions with multiple atmospheric layers.
The Miniature Elastic Backscatter LI-DAR system simplifies this procedure by using a single laser-and-detector system to monitor simple elastic backscattering. By quickly scanning a pulsed laser beam as it propagates and correcting for atmospheric changes, the system can produce detailed images of aerosol concentrations and interlayer mixing at a range of 10 km.
The system is so compact that it can fit into three small cases. This means it can be shipped to remote test sites as airline baggage. A portable generator allows the system to collect data nearly anywhere in the world.
Los Alamos (NM) National Laboratory (DOE). Research team.
* Optical components, like the Wavelength Tunable Liquid Crystal Filter, are the unsung heroes of fiberoptic communications networks. The liquid crystal Fabry-Perot filters are active optical devices that permit passage of only a narrow band of optical wavelengths while rejecting all others.
The devices are fabricated with techniques that are standard in the liquid crystal industry making them a low-cost means of expanding the information capacity of optical fibers. Their power requirements are also very low - being comparable to those of ordinary liquid crystal displays used in calculators and watches.
These components additionally offer greater functionality than competitive systems. They can be made sensitive or insensitive to polarization and assembled into arrays, both of which are impossible with other technologies.
Bellcore, Red Bank, NJ. Jay Patel.
* The 6100 Series Tunable External Cavity Diode Laser expands on the functionality of conventional lasers by being continuously tunable from a wavelength less than 120 [angstrom], in the visible region, to one more than 1,000 [angstrom], in the near-infrared.
This is not only the first continuously tunable laser, it also is the first turnable system to operate in the visible regime - a difficult accomplishment because of laser gain characteristics. The 6100 also has a narrow line width of 2 MHz, which increases its precision and accuracy.
Being continuously tunable makes the laser especially useful for metrology and communications applications. In spectroscopy, it can be used to monitor pollutants at the parts per trillion level.
New Focus Inc., Mountain View, CA. Timothy Day, Frank Luecke, and Michael Brownell.
* Focusing x rays has never been easy, since they tend to penetrate most materials. Researchers at Cornell Univ., however, have developed a simple device that focuses hard x rays to a spot size 900 times smaller in area than the closest alternative focusing method.
They focus the x-rays with a Glass Capillary X-Ray Concentrator, which is a gradually tapered glass tube having a very smooth inner wall. The x rays traverse the tapered bore via multiple total reflections and emerge focused at the small tip of the capillary.
These capillaries can be used as cost-effective x-ray optics in x-ray diffraction, spectroscopy, imaging, and microprobe studies of solid-state and biological materials. They also can be applied to x-ray tomography to increase image resolution.
Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY, Nanoptics, Jerusalem, and Univ. of Washington, Seattle. Research team.
* Over the past 10 years, highly saturated nitrile rubber's (HNBR's) superior environmental resistance and other physical properties have made it ideal for many high-performance applications.
Chemisat increases the number of those applications while maintaining the basic properties of conventional HNBR. Because it's a water-based latex, Chemisat can find uses where the conventional product can't.
The latex base allows HNBR to be used, for example, as a binder material for automotive gaskets or as a component in an aqueous adhesive system for automotive timing belts. Conventional HNBR is not suitable for either application.
The saturation technique used to make latex HNBR can also be applied to other polymers, with substantial property improvements in each case.
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Akron, OH, and Olin Corp., Cheshire, CT. Dane Parker, Robert Roberts, and Henry Schiessel.
* INCONEL alloy 718 is a 30-year-old nickel-base alloy used in many high-temperature, high-strength, corrosive applications. Its cost, however, has remained high because of difficulties in forming or machining it.
INCONEL Alloy 718SPF was developed to have a fine-grained microstructure that is amenable to conventional superplastic forming processes. This means that large, complex parts can be formed with it on a cost-effective basis. It also permits fabrication of jet engine designs not currently feasible.
Initial uses for this alloy are in commercial gas turbine components that require a combination of high-temperature strength, corrosion resistance, and low-cycle fatigue strength.
Inco Ltd., Huntington, WV. Gaylord Smith, Daniel Yates, and Jack Wheeler.
* Carbohydrate Protein Conjugates (CPCs) are used to stabilize proteins - enzymes and antibodies - in harsh environments, such as high temperatures or in organic solvents.
Enzymes are used as catalysts in chemical processes. Stabilizing them increases their lifetimes, which increases the efficiency of the processes. Typical CPC yields in enzymes are greater than 90%, compared to 1% for native enzymes under analogous chemical reaction conditions.
Similarly, exposure of a CPC antibody (complexed with a pesticide) to an organic solvent did not affect its binding ability. In contrast, the corresponding native antibody completely lost its binding ability in a similar exposure.
Lawrence Berkeley (CA) Laboratory (DOE), Ohio State Univ., Columbus, and Cargill Corp., Wayzata, MN. Mark Bednarski, Mark Alper, and Matthew Callstrom.
Lasers & Electro-Optics
* Many researchers believe that efficient pumping of solid-state lasers requires that they be stacked into an array. Full-scale development of this approach, however, has been limited by the large amounts of heat such arrays must dissipate.
The Modular High-power Laser Diode Array removes this heat with a complex series of water cooling plenums and channels. These permit the array to operate on a continuous basis at extremely high output power.
For example, a Nd:YAG laser built with this diode packaging technology averaged 1 kW of power-more than 10 times that of its nearest competitor.
Well-developed anisotropic silicon etching techniques are used to fabricate the diode array's modular cooling channels, making its manufacture amenable to economical mass production.
Laurence Livermore (CA) National Laboratory (DOE). William Benett, Barry Freitas, and Raymond Beach.
* Optical amplifiers provide greater flexibility in optical communication systems than electrical amplifiers, since there are no delays in converting signals. Measuring the optical loss or gain in these devices, however, is complicated by the need for stable laser sources.
The HP 8168A Tunable Laser Source provides fast and accurate tuning of a laser source to characterize optical devices. Wavelength and output power are independently selectable. For a 1-nm wavelength change, settling time of the HP 8168A can be as short as 150 msec. Competitive systems can take several minutes to stabilize.
Hewlett-Packard Co., Palo Alto, CA. Bernd Masisenbacher, Emmerich Mueller, and Rick Trutna.
Westinghouse Makes Utilities More Reliable
* Electric power disturbances can have wide-ranging efects. Two products from Westinghouse Electric Corp. address problems at opposite ends of the supplier-user spectrum. One allows a nuclear plant to keep running during repairs, while the other eliminates voltage variations.
The Laser-Welded Steam Generator Tube Sleeving System allows repair of degraded heat exchanger tubes in nuclear power plants.
This system involves inserting a sleeve into a failed tube and feeding 1-kW laser light through fiber optics to weld the sleeve to the failed tube.
All procedures are remotely controlled from outside the containment building.
All procedures are remotely controlled from outside the containment building.
Westinghouse Electric Copr., Madison, PA. Michael Hecht, Bala Nair, and Philip Hawkins.
At the other end of the power line are industrial microprocessors that require well-regulated supplies to reduce the chance of data loss. Unfortunately, most draw uneven currents and generate harmonics that pollute the power supply for other electronics devices.
The Westinghouse SureSine Active Power Line Conditioner combines harmonic Filtering with fundamental voltage regulation to harmonically compensate the voltage for the load and supply the harmonic currents the load requires. Its solid-state inverter replaces large transformer-based power conditioner and capacitors.
Westinghouse Electric Corp., Pittsburgh, Electric Power Research Institute, Palo Alto, CA, and PSE&G, Newark, NJ. Research team.
The ESP Blood Culturing System is an automated system that detects microorganisms in blood and other normally sterile body fluids.
It continuously monitors the consumption or generation of gases that signal metabolic activity. Sensitivity is as low as one organism in a 10 ml blood sample.
Because ESP detects gas consumption as well as generation, it is often much faster than systems that monitor only [C0.sub.2]. For many organisms, consumption of oxygen may precede the generation of [C0.sub.2] by hours or days.
ESP detects microorganisms by sensing gas pressure changes in the headspaces of closed bottles containing blood samples and a special growth media. The heart of ESP is a sensor found in automotive exhaust systems that was adapted for use in the ESP diagnostic system.
The system's computer manages up to five ESP units - a capacity of 1,920 bottles.
Difco Laboratories, Ann Arbor, MI. Research team.
* Based on Raman scattering analysis, the RASCAL II is a multigas concentration monitor for anaesthesiology.
The instrument is unique in its ability to monitor seven gases simultaneously: nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, halothane, enflurane, and isoflurane.
The only other instrument that analyzes for oxygen and nitrogen as well as the anaesthetic gases is a mass spectrometer, a relatively complex device that depends on a high vacuum environment.
The simpler RASCAL II uses a laser system to detect Raman shifts that identify and quantify the gases of interest.
BOC Group, Louisville, CO. Richard VanWagenen and Don Gregonis.
Taxol Helping To Fight Cancer
* Every year, refractory ovarian cancer kills 13,000 women in the U.S. Because of its effectiveness, Taxol was approved for use in the treatment of this disease in December 1992. Clinical trials are under way to determine the drug's efficacy in treating breast, lung, and other cancers.
Taxol is the first anticancer agent that promotes the assembly of microtubules, essential structural elements in animal cells. Taxol induces the formation of an excess of nonfunctional microtubules, which results in the inhibition of cancer cell division and, ultimately, cell death.
Extensive clinical testing was curtailed in the past by a limited drug supply, but is now ongoing around the world.
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Princeton, NJ, and National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD. Research team.
Taxol comes from the bark of the Pacific Yew tree, where it is present at 0.03%. Bulk Pharmaceutical Taxol is the product of Hauser Chemical Research's refinement process that isolates 98% pure Taxol from Yew tree bark.
This purification technology is important because without it, significant quantities of Taxol could not be produced quickly and economically today.
Taxol purification is difficult. It's a "small molecule" by biotechnology standards, but is large by most organic chemistry standards (molecular weight of 854). The bark also contains some closely related compounds, such as cephalomannine. These compounds are nearly identical in structure to Taxol and are difficult to separate.
Hauser is the only commercial supplier of bulk Taxol.
Hauser Chemical Research, Boulder, CO. Randy Daughenbaugh and David Bailey.
Test & Measurement
* Crystal defects, such as dislocations and grain boundaries, strongly influence the performance of semiconductor wafers. Measuring the distribution of these defects, however, is time consuming and often leads to non-repeatable results.
The Scanning Defect-mapping System (SDMS) is a simple, fast, and repeatable instrument for distinguishing and counting various types of wafer defects. Mapping a 10- x 10-cm wafer, for example, takes about 2 hours on the SDMS, but can take up to 2 weeks on other large-imaging systems.
Additionally, SDMS defect counts are repeatable to [+ or -] 2%, while other systems may yield counts that differ by a factor of two.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory, (DOE), Golden, CO. Bhushan Sopori.
* Gamma- and x-ray radiation detectors made from cadmium telluride crystals are commonly used for medical imaging applications. They have not achieved widespread use, however, because of problems with stability, early fatigue, availability, and price.
CZT Detectors eliminate the source of these difficulties by replacing a fraction of the Cd with Zn, leading to a more stable lattice structure and a wider bandgap, both of which improve detector performance.
Production of useful CZT crystals is made possible by an improved growth method producing crystals that operate to more than 100 C and have a higher resolution than CdTe crystals. The high yield and large size of CZT crystals also lower manufacturing costs.
Aurora Technologies Corp., San Diego. Jack Butler, Boris Apotovsky, and F. Patrick Doty.
* The TE-1000 Constant Temperature Bath attains temperatures as low as - 40 C without the use of external mechanical refrigeration systems or environmentally harmful CFC refrigerants.
Refrigeration is achieved through thermoelectric cooling (Peltier effect). Since competing devices employ a compressor, condenser, and evaporator to provide their cooling, they are up to 10 times larger and heavier than the TE-1000.
It also has a precise temperature control, solid-state electronics, and an ability to control rapid temperature changes. Internal lighting and a multi-pane, frost-free window provide a clear view of the refrigerated bath.
Cannon Instrument Co., State College, PA. Wanlie Zheng, Wallis Lloyd, and Chuck Maggi.
* The Uncooled Infrared Tunnel Sensor represents the first use of tunneling displacement transducers. When thermal gradients expand a gas in a micromachined cavity, its membrane cover stretches, producing a tunneling current.
This phenomenon is important because the tunneling currents produced can be measured with enough sensitivity to detect movements in the membrane smaller than 100 A.
These devices offer better sensitivity than conventional pyroelectric infrared detectors, which require production of complex pyroelectric materials and incorporation of external cooling equipment.
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA. Thomas Kenny, William Kaiser, and Judith Podosek.
* The best phase-measuring interference microscopes, using multiple wavelength techniques, can measure step heights only up to 15 [mu]m. The Wyko Model RST Rough Surface Tester expands that measurement range to 100 Km, with a 10-nm lower limit.
The RST makes 3-D measurements on surfaces that could not be measured with proifilometers, has those with extremely steep or rough contours.
It's also fast, because it images the entire field of view at once and processes all data points rapidly. The RST, for example, can measure a 5-Km step on a 2-mm square area in just 12 seconds.
WYKO Corp., Tucson, AZ. Paul Caber. Circle 556
* Precise measurement of large-radius optical components (such as the aspheric mirrors used to reflect x rays) with conventional non-contact devices is both complex and prone to measurement error.
The Long Trace Profiler 11 (LTP 11) eliminates these problems by measuring parts 1 m or more in diameter using interference patterns from a laser beam split into two beams that are reflected off the sample surface as the probe traverses the sample.
The intrinsic low noise level of this system enables measurement of a 1-m-long surface with an error bar of only 3 nm. It also has the capability to measure the absolute curvature of surfaces, which means it does not need reference surfaces or calibration standards.
Brookhaven National Laboratory (DOE), Upton, NY, Continental Optical Corp., Hauppage, NY, Lawrence Berkeley (CA) Laboratory (DOE), and U.S. Army ARDEC, Picatinny, NJ. Peter Takaes, Shinan Qian, and Steven Irick.
* Characterizing the energy distribution * of signals in only the time domain or only the frequency domain often is insufficient for a complete analysis of signals that change frequency over time.
The Gabor Spectrogram represents a signal's power spectrum in a joint time-frequency plane. This offers significant speed, resolution and signal-to-noise ratio improvements over the traditional short-time Fast Fourier Transform spectrogram.
Its main applications are in the signal analysis of speech, electrocardiograms, sonar, acoustics, seismic signals, computerized vision, image processing, and vibration. Economists have also found that the Dow-Jones index can be characterized in the joint time-frequency domain.
National Instruments, Austin, TX. Shie Qian and Dapang Chen.
* Measuring single event, subnanosecond laser transients from a 100 terawatt laser usually requires expensive, state-of-the-art digitizing recorders, such as high-speed oscilloscopes.
The Single Shot Transient Digitizer (SSTD), however, outperforms commercial solid-state digitizers costing up to five times as much. The SSTD, for example, is eight times faster than the fastest solid-state digitizer and offers a 60 dB dynamic range. It also is smaller, more accurate, and has a 1,000 times faster repetition rate.
The speed of the SSTD comes from its use of Schottky diode samplers and fast gate pulses positioned in a sampling array periodically located at taps along a transmission line.
The solid-state SSTD is built from off-the-shelf, low cost components-making for inexpensive upgrades. The developers are working on a similar system having more than three times the sampling rate of the SSTD.
Lawrence Livermore (CA) National Laboratory (DOE). Thomas McEwan Ewan and Joseph Kilkenny.
Thin Film Technology
* Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory have come up with a fast and efficient method of producing commercial quantities of high-temperature superconductors with high purity and significantly improved properties.
The Process for Making Phase-pure Superconductors provides better superconducting powders, in 10% of the time' at a temperature 200-F degrees lower, and at 40% of the cost, compared to current methods.
The ceramic superconductors produced by this process could someday find use in power generation, storage, and distribution, and in magnets for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
A private firm, Superconductive Components Inc., Columbus, OH, is selling the powders made using the technique. Argonne IL) National Laboratory (DOE). Research team.
* Novaflex is an adhesiveless electrical interconnection system for making integrated circuits used in severe environments,c such as inside automobile engines.
The product that results from the Novaflex system is very thin (hence, very flexible) and is completely free of adhesives.
This is important because most thermal and chemical failures in flexible printed circuits are due to the adhesives used in standard processes.
The system is being used to make sensors mounted directly to automobile engine blocks; as preheaters in laser printers; in hinges for notebook computers; and in multichip modules and antilock braking systems. Sheldahl Inc., Northfield, MN. Research team.
* The design and production of energy-efficient, state-of the-art electronic devices depends increasingly on the ability to produce ever-higher densities of circuit elements within integrated circuits.
The Molecular Optical Switch for Optoelectric Microcircuits is a new organic molecule that acts as an incredibly fast light-intensity-dependent optical switch.
Other photochromic materials used in optical memory devices operate by breaking and reforming chemical bonds, processes that can take seconds to
By contrast, this switch manipulates information through electron movement alone. It can make photochromic changes in as little as 10 picoseconds.
The switch also can be used as a modulator for might beams in the green and near-infrared regions of the spectrum. Argonne (IL) National Laboratory (DOE). Michael Wasielewski and David Gosztola.
* Designers of integrated circuits face a crucial problem: how to place chips side by side so that they can make computers that run at maximum speed.
The Packaging Technology for Multichip Modules (MCMs), which relies on a unique chip carrier," enables electronics designers to build MCMs that are readily testable and easy to assemble. The chip carrier is the only package that converts standard integrated circuits to fully testable structures that can then be readily assembled on any circuit substrate.
This process overcomes many of the shortcomings of existing technologies, such as wire bonding and tape automated bonding. MCMs produced by this technology will find use in computer workstations, high-definition TVs, and communications products.
Tessera Inc., Elmsford, NY. Research team.
* One of the most promising areas of semiconductor activity is in metal oxide semiconductors (and superconductors), where pure oxygen is required.
The Hyperthermal Oxygen Atom Generator (HOAG) for surface physics, semiconductor, and superconductor R&D is a highly compact instrument that provides researchers with a flux of pure, energetic, ground-state oxygen atoms.
HOAG can be used in the ultrahigh vacuum (UHV) conditions required by the semiconductor industry to deposit precise, well-ordered oxide coatings and layers to form high-quality electronic devices.
It is also suitable for use in cross-beam studies, chemical kinetics, mass spectrometer calibration, reactive ablation cleaning, catalytic evaluation of materials, and basic surface science research.
NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA, and Daco Technologies Inc., Florahome, FL. Ronald Outlaw and Mark Davidson.
* Assembly Test Chips ATCS) are silicon integrated circuits that are packed with microsensors and used to measure the handling, packaging, and aging of ICs.
These devices can monitor thermal, mechanical, and chemical stresses in electronic packaging technology. Each ATC has some 250 microsensors for measuring the IC environment.
The semiconductor industry has used ATCs to initially qualify and compare their commercial sources of microelectronics packaging, as well as to provide inexpensive periodic monitoring of their own manufacturing quality.
Since June 1992, more than 10,000 ATCS have been distributed to outside researchers. As a result, of these efforts more than 20 electronics companies have shared sensor design, calibration insight, and other data to improve the functionality of these assembly test chips.
Sandia National Laboratories (DOE), Albuquerque, NM. James Sweet, David Peterson, and Melanie Tuck.
The Transformer Coupled Plasma (TCP) Etcher is a new plasma etch technology that can be used to manufacture next-generation electronic devices, such as 16-, 64-, and 256-megabit dynamic random access memory chips (DRAMS).
Until recently, plasma etching systems could recise etch only down to 0.35 microns. This technology permits precise etching control in the 0.25-micron regime - a major breakthrough in etching capability.
Working with Sematech, the semiconductor manufacturing consortium, the research team addressed such issues as radiation damage, microloading, etch uniformity, selectivity, and scalability to large wafer sizes.
The technology has been incorporated into two devices, the TCP 9400 polysilicon etch system and the TCP 9600 metal etch system. Lam Research Corp., Fremont, CA. Research team.
* A new photolithographic etching process, the Aqueous Chelating Etch System, improves significantly on existing ways of etching important oxide thin films, particularly high-temperature superconducting films and microelectronic devices.
The etches produced by this method have smaller feature sizes, offer improved surface morphologies, and allow greater selectivity than etches produced by existing processes.
The etches have already been used to develop some of the highest performance devices in hightemperature superconductors, including high-frequency transistors, phase shifters, Josephson junctions, and superconductor chips for use in personal computers.
Sandia National Laboratories (DOE), Albuquerque, NM, and National Renewable Energy
Colden, CO. Research team.
* Accurate, non-contact temperature measurements of thin films on semiconductor wafers are very difficult to do accurately in real time during a vacuum process, yet this is precisely what the POINT Temperature Monitor does.
The monitor optically determines the spectral behavior of a semiconductor film at various processing steps during fabrication. This turns out to be simply related to the film's temperature at each step.
The technique is applicable to virtually all commercial semiconductor materials, as well as ion implantation doping and plasma etching operations.
Intevac Inc., Santa Clara, CA, and Varian Associates Inc., Palo Alto, CA. Derryck Settles, Ron Powell, and Dimitry Kirillov.
* Analytical instruments such as gas chromatographs yield much more information when paired with mass spectrometers. Before the Turbomolecular Pump TMP 062 HD, however, each system required its own pump, because each operates at a much different vacuum level. With its dual inlet structure, the TMP 062 HD can differentially pump the chromatograph and the mass spectrometer at the same time.
The performance efficiency of gas chromatography-mass spectrometer systems should increase by a factor of 10 with this split-flow concept. In addition, the product allows the use of small diaphragm pumps for backing, instead of oil-sealed rotary vane pumps, thus prolonging the backing pump life by a factor of four.
Balzers AG, Asslar, Germany. Armin Conrad, Otto Ganschow, and Bernd-Otto Hofmann.
* A significant improvement in vacuum pump performance has been achieved with the Turbo V-250 Turbomolecular Pump by incorporating newly designed molecular drag stages into a turbomolecular pump. Offering compression ratios of up to 10 times greater for light gases, such as hydrogen and helium, the system allows faster pumping cycles and more efficient operation.
In addition, the pump is completely oil free, which eliminates the possibility of vacuum contamination when the V-250 is used with a dry diaphragin pump as a backing unit.
Users involved with mass spectrometry, gas analyzers, ultrahigh vacuum systems, high-energy physics processes, and semiconductor equipment should benefit from this advance.
Varian Associates, Torino, Italy. Giampaolo Levi and Fausto Casaro.
* Production downtime is reduced by a factor of 10, due to the fast regeneration of the FIRST/COOLVAC 1500 FR Cryopump. Not only will this greatly reduce manufacturing costs in any vacuum process requiring a cryopump, it will virtually eliminate the inconvenience of process shutdown for regeneration in around-the-clock operations.
Because cryos are capture pumps, they must be purged regularly of the gases they pump. With a typical cryopump, this regeneration process can take about 6 hrs. The FIRST pump needs onl 40 min.
This major improvement in cryopumping is achieved through the regeneration of the secondstage gases only. Many such partial regens are possible because cryos fill up with second-stage gases long before they fill with water.
Leybold AG, Cologne, Germany. Hans-Jurgen Mundinger, Hans-Ulrich Hafner, and Monika Mattern-Klosson.
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Title Annotation:||Research and Development magazine|
|Publication:||R & D|
|Date:||Oct 1, 1993|
|Previous Article:||New 3-D technology aids in oil search.|
|Next Article:||Winning in the 21st century.|