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World-class technologies for R&D and beyond: the 44th Annual R&D 100 Awards honor the world's best innovators and their innovations.

The editors of R&D Magazine are proud to announce the winners of the 44th Annual R&D 100 Awards. This annual competition recognizes excellence in innovation--on a global scale. Indeed, the technologies and techniques highlighted in the following pages are among the most innovative ideas from today's technology powerhouses in academia, government, and industry, worldwide.

Selection of R&D 100 winners is a sophisticated process, lasting nearly a full year, and involving a judging panel of almost 50 independent technical experts who lend their expertise in evaluating the details of the product entries compared to other existing products and technologies.

This year's winners will be honored at a Black Tie Awards Gala in the Grand Ballroom of Chicago's Navy Pier on October 19th. This event is in conjunction with a public exhibition showcasing a sample of this year's winning technologies.

From analytical instruments to lasers, to life science to x-ray devices, the winners of the 2006 R&D 100 Awards will have a definitive impact on research, industry, and daily life.

We recognize the development teams that have made these technologies possible. We invite you to join this elite group of scientists and engineers in the 2007 R&D 100 Awards Competition--it's never too early to enter. Visit for details. Congratulations to all of this year's winners!

--The Editors of R&D Magazine

To view a full archive of past R&D 100 winners, visit:

Finding a Planet in the Stars

One of the most exciting and recent applications of high-resolution spectroscopy has been in the search for planets around distant stars through the measurement of stellar spectra. This Doppler Planet Search has been fully realized with the development of the Externally Dispersed Interferometry (EDI) by David Erskine at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Calif., and Jerry Edelstein in the Space Sciences Laboratory at the Univ. of California, Berkeley.

EDI is dramatically less expensive ($14,000 vs. $4 million) for making the highly precision measurements required that will enable the hundreds of medium-sized (~1-m) telescopes around the world to participate in the Doppler Planet Search. Already, EDI has detected the planet around 51 Pegasi and discovered a new planet in the constellation Virgo.

The tugging of a planet orbiting a star causes the star to wobble, with a period of a few days, weeks, or months and an amplitude of 10 to 100 m/sec. This creates a small Doppler shift in the wavelength of the stellar spectrum that acts like a fingerprint relative to a spectral reference. The EDI has the precision to detect this precision through its combination of a wide-angle fixed-delay interferometer and a dispersive spectrograph. The Doppler measurement is performed by the interferometer which creates non-overlapping fringes that are embedded in the spectrum created, thus resulting in a Doppler measurement that is up to 10,000 times more robust than competing systems.

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Enabling First Responders

The first thing that the first people responding to an emergency involving hazardous materials want to know is what materials they could be dealing with: The FirstDefender Chemical Identification System gives ability. Developed by a research team from Ahura Corp., Wilmington, Mass., this device can accurately identify unknown liquids and solids reliably and in less than 30 sec.

The low cost, ruggedized, portable instrument weighs less than 2 kg and is about the size of a hardcover book. It is based on laser-driven Raman spectroscopy with software that empowers the users to make on-the-spot decisions without consultations with trained chemists. User-friendliness is also addressed in this instrument with the inclusion of an intuitive user software interface--similar to that of a cell phone--that features color menus and options.

The instrument's built-in chemical library allows it to resolve the constituents of up to six concurrent substances or mixture, and provide high-quality Raman spectra for subsequent inspection. It is the only device that has been qualified to meet the shock and vibration requirements of MIL-STD 810F, allowing it to survive a multitude of accidental mishaps in the field.

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Faster Genome Sequencing

A bevy of genome sequencing technologies/techniques have been created since the success of the Human Genome Project was demonstrated in 2003. Among the most popular approaches has been the Sanger method. This method involves cloning DNA fragments into bacteria, then growing the bacteria in Petri dishes over several weeks, collecting them and then sequencing the fragments using fluorescently labeled nucleotides and capillary electrophoresis.

Even with all the alternative technologies created since 2003, no alternative approaches have been able to displace the Sanger method. But a new technology, The Genome Sequencer 20 System, produced by researchers at 454 Life Sciences Corp., Branford, Conn., aims to do just that. Outlined in the July 31, 2005 issue of Nature, this new platform utilizes next-generation sequencing technology in picoliter-scale volumes, providing a 10- to 100-fold improvement in DNA sequencing throughput at one tenth the cost. In contrast to the Sanger method, the DNA used in the Genome Sequencer 20 is directly amplified from Original genomic DNA as opposed to that used in the Sanger method, where one must first create a clone library from the genomic DNA and then be PCR-amplified.

Moreover, all the DNA preparation for sequencing in this new platform is done in a test tube, eliminating expense, time, and errors. Actual sequencing is performed in 1.6 million micro-reactors fitting on a "chip" the size of a credit card. These combined features allow this technology to be a serious competitor to Sanger sequencing, particularly for large genome volumes. The new instrument has already found an audience with established genome centers such as the Joint Genome Institute, Walnut Creek, Calif.

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Float Explores the Seven Seas

The oceans play a critical role in the global regulation of atmospheric C[O.sub.2] levels. Indeed, 50 billion metric tons of global carbon photosynthesis occurs annually in oceans. This photosynthesis is the first stage of the ocean's carbon pump, which acts as its natural carbon sequestration mechanism. However, the processes of the carbon pump remain poorly understood because of the incomplete nature of ship-based or moored observation studies. Such studies are far too costly to do on a significant scale, and are impossible to carry out under extreme conditions. The Carbon Explorer, a robotic, sensor-and telemetry-enhanced ocean float with advanced optical sensors for characterizing carbon in the ocean, is a low-cost solution to the gap left by existing observation systems.

Developed by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Calif., Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, Calif., and WET Labs, Philomath, Ore., this system allows scientists studying the ocean to "be there," both in space and time, using signals from global positioning system satellites to perform carbon observations under virtually all oceanic conditions, from seasons to years, under even the most severe weather conditions.

Carbon Explorers operating in remote and stormy seas have already returned real-time, year-long records of carbon change and sequestration to a kilometer in depth.

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Pushing the Envelope

Raman spectroscopy is becoming a much more common tool in the materials scientists' toolbox through its precision and ease of use. Developers David Brady, Mike Sullivan, and Prasant Potuluri at Centice Corp., Durham, N.C., have pushed this envelope even further with their development of the Multimodal Multiplex Spectroscopy (MMS) Raman Spectrometer.

The MMS has resolution specs that are equal to or greater than competitive systems and a sensitivity that is up to 12 times better, all at a lower price.

The system employs a large area sampling technique that results in the sample experiencing less than 1% of the laser power density versus competitive products. This lower power density greatly increases the number of samples that can be analyzed without thermal degradation. And the larger sample area (2 mm) also produces results that are more indicative of the "bulk" of the sample, as compared to competitive results that sample only a 100-[micro]m spot on the sample.

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Point and Measure

Developed by Keith Carton at DeltaNu in Laramie, Wyo., the RockHound is the world's first handheld Raman spectrometer that can be used for the non-destructive identification of artwork, gems, and minerals. Designed for curators, archeologists, geologists, mineralogists, and gemologists, the handheld device's form factor allows it to analyze liquids, emulsions, and solids in several orientations without the use of fiber optics.

Its low power laser diode light source allows the RockHound to be interfaced with a microscope and its built-in mineral library enables it to select geological compounds. Its use of "off-the-shelf" consumer optical components also results in a price point that is less than half of that of other portable Raman-based instruments. These features allow it to be used by teachers and students in classroom and field exercises.

The Rockhound's affordable and rapid spectroscopic technique also allows it to be used to authenticate precious stones, allowing buyers to identify the gem immediately on-site. This is particularly important when valuable gemstones cannot be removed from secure facilities.

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Hot, Hot, Hot Measurements

Measuring the thermal, physical, and chemical changes in materials and processes under high temperature and other harsh conditions has been severely limited to simple thermocouple-based systems. The MilliWave Thermal Analyzer is a fundamentally new approach to thermal measurement that combines electromagnetic waveguide technology with dual-receiver thermal return reflection (TRR) technology. The instrument can measure processes from room temperature to more than 1,700 C on gram-to ton-sized samples.

The MilliWave Thermal Analyzer was developed primarily to monitor research in the vitrification (melt and turn into glass) of radioactive wastes that have been stored in underground tanks since as far back as the 1940s. However, there are numerous industrial uses such as alloy product fabrication where this tool could also provide valuable information on process control.

The device was developed by Paul Woskov at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, in collaboration with SAC Sundaram at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Wash., and William Daniel at the Savannah River National Laboratory, Aiken, S.C.

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Upping Your HPLC Productivity

How'd you like to increase the life of one of your expendable materials by a factor of 107 That would be useful, wouldn't it? Well, if you use high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) processes in your lab, you can accomplish that goal by using the Axia HPLC packing technology hardware, which has been designed to dramatically increase your throughput in applications such as the purification of combinatorial drug discovery libraries.

Axia technology provides improved HPLC bed stability, remaining intact even under the extreme conditions used in high-throughput purification labs. Its longer lifetimes, with up to 1,300 samples tested before changing, minimize downtime and provide greater sample output. Axia is based on computer-controlled axial compression technologies, allowing the column to be packed to an ideal density for a given media, maintaining a uniform bed density throughout the length of the column. The uniform bed density results in improved column efficiencies--up to 27% improved efficiencies seen compared to older slurry technologies--and peak shapes, which in turn provides greater resolution increased purity and greater sample loading. Axia was developed by a team at Phenomenex, Inc., in Torrance, Calif.

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Analytical Instruments

Modular + Integrated Benefits

Combining the benefits of modular and integrated analytical instruments is often a difficult compromise. Researchers Gary Gleave, Mike Kinderman, and Richard Jack at Dionex Corp., Sunnyvale, Calif., solved this design issue in the development of their ICS-3000 Reagent Free Ion Chromatography System.

The ICS-3000 is capable of single or dual detection as well as simultaneous injection of samples, resulting in the user's ability to get more information from one injection. Dual analysis provides more flexibility and more application choices by allowing two different detectors to be used simultaneously. The ICS-3000 also incorporates the latest advances in Dionex's proprietary reagent-free ion chromatography that allows the user to just add water, instead of adding eluents, for the detection of anions and cations.

The ICS-3000 offers the most reproducible, stable, and sensitive ion chromatography system that is available. Improvements in the instrument's flow rate accuracy, eluent generator electronics stability, and conductivity cell temperature control have all worked to increase the signal baseline stability and enhance the sensitivity level. The instrument also has improved detection levels, quieter pumping mechanisms, and is easier to use through a tablet PC interface.

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A New IR Generation

Infrared (IR) spectroscopy has seen several evolutionary developments starting with the full-spectrum dispersive IR spectrometers developed in the mids-1960 and the design and development of the Fourier Transform (FT)-IR devices in the late-1970s. Encoded Photometric Infrared (EP-IR) Spectrometry represents the third major breakthrough in the field of IR. This development provides the high-resolution and full spectrum capabilities of FT-IR, while retaining the field ruggedness of non-dispersive infrared (NDIR) techniques.

Developed by Thomas Hagler at Aspectrics, Inc., Pleasanton, Calif., the EP-IR can scan at up to 100 scans/sec, enabling rapid data averaging for ppb sensitivity in less than 60 sec. The instrument's access to 0.01 sec time resolution provides users with kinetics information for a better understanding of process modifications. The device's encoding disc can encode up to 256 discrete wavelength channels for the analysis of complex mixtures.

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World's Fastest Hydrogen Sensor

Hydrogen-powered automotive vehicles are touted as one of the best opportunities to get us off of the imported petroleum habit. To achieve this goal, many technological problems need to be solved. Michael Zach, Tao Xu, and Zhili Xiao at Argonne National Laboratory, Ill., have put to rest one of those problems with their development of Argonne's Ultrafast, Ultrasensitive Nanostructured Hydrogen Sensor.

With a response time of less than 75 msec, with just 2% hydrogen, the sensor can be used to shut off hydrogen flowing from the main tank of a hydrogen-powered vehicle before the gas reaches its lower limit of flammability. Moreover, its ability to detect hydrogen at 25 ppm without elaborate amplification allows the detection of minor or intermittent leaks.

To develop this device, the research team identified a self-assembled siloxane monolayer that modifies the structure of palladium at the nanoscale. They also worked with Markel Engineering and EMTEC to optimize the product's cost.

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Hybrid Mass Spec

Mass spectrometers have become the analytical method of choice among researchers looking to characterize proteomics, metabolomics, or any structural analysis where determining the elemental composition of a material is needed. Researchers at Thermo Electron Corp., Bremen, Germany, have developed a hybrid linear ion trap mass spectrometer, the LTQ Orbitrap, that advances the state-of-the-art with its high mass accuracy, high sensitivity, and good dynamic range. The device combines patented Orbitrap technology with Thermo's well-established LTQlinear ion trap to enable faster, more sensitive, and more reliable detection and identification of compounds in complex mixtures.

In the Orbitrap, ions to be analyzed are electrostatically trapped in an orbit around a central, spindle-shaped electrode. The electrode confines these ions so that they both orbit around the central electrode and oscillate back and forth along the central electrode's long axis. This oscillation generates an image current in the detector plates, which is then recorded by the instrument. The resulting mass resolution is greater than 100,000 compared to just 20,000 in a competitive Q-TOF (quadrupole time-of-flight) instrument. It's mass accuracy is better than 5 ppm with external Calibration, compared to more than 5 ppm for the Q-TOF. It enables accurate mass measurements over a dynamic range that matches or exceeds the spread of signal intensities in the electrospray ion source.

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Beam/X-ray Devices

Serving Up X-rays, Sideways

As an analytical technique, high-resolution x-ray diffraction offers researchers a wide range of characterization/measurement capabilities in arenas such as materials science, as well as in semiconductors and thin-films applications, where it is used to determine thin-film thickness. These measurements, can and have, however, been complicated by the need to reconfigure the x-ray diffractometers based on the nature of the material(s) under investigation. A group of engineers at Rigaku's x-ray diffraction division, Tokyo, Japan, have offered a response to those limitations with the SmartLab system. The device is a high resolution, high power, x-ray diffractometer that features a horizontal sample mount and proprietary intelligent software. The inclusion of the horizontal sample mount geometry provides the benefit of preventing either bending or bowing of the sample, making it easier to measure large or liquid samples. Cross Beam Optics and the addition of intelligent software also minimize sample-prep times and increase overall productivity.

LIGA Improves X-ray and Gamma Imaging

Radiographic technologies such as MRI, CT, and PET scans have become part of our standard lexicon. But limitations to these technologies still exist. Perhaps one of the most challenging issues in this is the repercussions of scattered radiation produced during these imaging routines. This radiation, in turn, has historically led to poor image contrast and signal-to-noise ratios. As a remedy, most medical radiographic imaging equipment employ metal grids or collimators to reduce scattered radiation and direct useful radiographic data.

Research teams at Argonne National Laboratory, Ill, and Creatv MicroTech Inc., Potomac, Md., have reworked the standard fabrication methods for these tools and created new Anti-scatter Grids for X-ray Imaging and Collimators for Nuclear Imaging made by LIGA. Using LIGA (German acronym for lithography, electroforming, and molding), the Argonne/Creatv MicroTech team was able to generate 2-D anti-scatter grids which can reduce scatter more efficiently than the current one-dimensional grids. LIGA-fabricated collimators, for their part, have the ability to provide higher resolution and faster image acquisition rates, all of which allow radiologists to more correctly interpret the images.

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Increasing Neutron Output

Neutrons have long been used as a means to characterize materials due to their unique interaction properties. Generating large amounts of neutrons, however, has remained a challenge for industry and academia alike. To that end, researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Calif., have developed the High--Output Coaxial--Target Neutron Generator. This device is a high-yield, continuous beam neutron generator, which uses no radioactive elements and gives about a 1,000-fold increase in neutron generation compared to existing technologies. Neutron generation in this device is achieved through deuterium-deuterium fusion reactions. Its high output is accomplished through the inclusion of several innovations including a plasma generator driven by radio-frequency energy, as well as a coaxial geometry that places large target areas into a small overall volume.

The system has already been successfully installed at the Univ. of Turin, Italy, where the device will be used to generate neutrons as part of the experimental cancer treatment of neutron capture therapy. Apart from this application, the device will also find an audience in industry, as part of neutron irradiation tests by flash memory manufacturers and in the homeland security arena for cargo screening.

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Melding Mass and Gamma-ray Spectroscopy

Technology remains at the frontline in the U.S.'s ongoing war against terror. Among the technologies currently being used are transportable nuclear material detectors. Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Calif., and VeriCold Technologies GmbH, Ismaning, Germany, have offered a new variant of these systems with the UltraSpec. The UltraSpec is a portable, high-resolution spectrometer that can be configured to quickly characterize and identify gamma-ray and neutron sources. As a gamma-ray spectrometer, it provides energy resolution that is 10 times better than conventional gamma-ray spectrometers. Configured as a neutron detector, the UltraSpec can detect and measure the amount of oxygen or other light elements that may be bound to a nuclear element. This capability is not only important for tracing illicit sources of nuclear material but also for ensuring the safety of stored nuclear material, at facilities like nuclear power plants and weapon stockpiles.

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A New Tool for X-ray Spec

High-resolution x-ray spectroscopy routines demand reasonable energy resolution coupled with maximum throughput. This is the framework behind a new energy dispersive solid-state detector, the QUAD XFlash SDD X-ray Detector, created by Martin Rohde and Holger Pecht of Bruker AXS Microanalysis GmbH, Berlin, Germany, and Heike Soltau and Peter Lechner, of PNSensor GmbH, Munich, Germany. The Quad XFlash Silicon Drift Diode (SDD) detector is the first four-channel 40 [mm.sup.2] SDD for energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy. In terms of performance, the QUAD XFlash is capable of accepting up to 2,000,000 counts/sec (cps), as opposed to the 100,000 cps characteristic of conventional Si(Li) or HPGe detectors. Since signal acquisition is the time critical part of the analysis procedure, this translates to a theoretical 20x increase in productivity. Applications which should directly benefit from this performance include electron beam and x-ray fluorescence analyses.

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Modeling with Michelle

High-power microwave tubes are used in a variety of applications including defense-radar systems, satellite communication systems, particle accelerators, and even deep space communication systems. The design requirements, and indeed, the overall effectiveness of these tubes, however, can be extraordinarily complex to build, leading to the use of specialized finite element simulation software. MICHELLE, is a response to that effort.

This software is expressly designed for three-dimensional modeling of charged-particle-beam devices (i.e., electron guns/collectors used in microwave tubes). In comparison to similar software tools, MICHELLE can accommodate models with roughly nine times as many volume elements--9 million tetrahedral volume elements versus 1 million of the nearest competitors. As a result, researchers using MICHELLE can model devices with better spatial resolution and with more complex geometries. Moreover, this new tool can also model a beam with roughly 20 x as many rays as its nearest competitor.

These capabilities have already been demonstrated in projects such as the International Linear Collider and in the design effort of ion thrusters for NASA's Deep Space 1 spacecraft.

MICHELLE was created by researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory, N.M., the Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C., Science Applications International Corp., Burlington, Mass., Simulation Technology & Applied Research, Inc., Mequon, Wisc., Raytheon, Waltham, Mass., Field Precision, Albuquerque, N.M., L-3 Communications Electron Technologies, Inc., N.Y., N.Y., Communications & Power Industries, Palo Alto, Calif., and L-3 Communications Electron Devices, San Carlos, Calif.

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Focus Your X-rays

The availability of powerful third generation synchrotron radiation sources, such as the Advanced Photon Source in the U.S., the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in France, and Spring-8 in Japan, has pushed the spectrum of x-rays to much higher energies than those available decades ago. That said, the ability to adequately/efficiently harness these rays is paramount. To that end, scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, N.Y., have created a Sagittal Focusing Laue Monochromator for High-energy X-rays.

This device focuses divergent high-energy x-rays while maintaining good energy resolution, increasing the useful flux one thousand-fold over existing techniques. This performance is accomplished by using the lattice planes inside sagitally bent Lane crystals to monochromatize and focus incoming x-rays, thus allowing them to be almost perpendicular to the surface of the crystal, reducing the control of the crystal's figure-error from a 2-D problem to a 1-D one. The result is a technology that allows for the first time, users to focus a large divergence of high-energy x-rays.

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Tracking Down Cancer

The drawbacks/side effects of radiation therapies for cancer are well-known. At the heart of this issue is how to effectively target tumor-laden areas while preserving healthy surrounding tissue/organs. The On-Board Imager from Varian Medical Systems, Palo Alto, Calif., is a response toward that effort. Alongside Varian's Clinac medical linear accelerator (linac), the On-Board Imager enables clinicians to obtain high-resolution x-ray images to pinpoint tumor sites, adjust patient positioning automatically, and complete a treatment in a standard treatment slot. It employs three robotically controlled arms that operate with three axes of motion, optimizing positioning for the imaging system for the best possible view of the target area/tumor. Moreover, the device can detect movements due to changes in the patient set-up, such as internal organ movement or movement associated with breathing, which have plagued conventional imaging routines.

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Can You Hear Me Now?

As NASA missions move deeper into space, the need for high microwave power for high-rate data communications becomes increasingly important. To meet this need, developers at NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio, and L-3 Communications Electron Technologies, Inc., Torrance, Calif. have created the L-3 Communications 999HA Traveling-Wave Tube.

This device is a high-power, high-efficiency microwave transmission source that will enable high data-rate transmission to Earth for science data and video from the current and future NASA missions to Mars and the outer planets of the solar system. Significantly more data can be returned using this technology than was previously possible--an amplification of the communications signal by a factor of about 100,000--substantially increasing and enhancing the capability for discovery.

This device could also be used for microwave radar for collision avoidance and navigation control for Lunar/Mars rovers.

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Giving Context to Real-time Video

Aerial imagery supplied through helicopter-based routines is a uniquely valuable way to collect information across a large urban area. However, ground-based units that receive a helicopter's aerial video have found it difficult to interpret a raw video sequence because the individual views are too local (tunnel vision) and because the camera view is constantly changing.

By providing an automatic real-time registration of a digital map with live aerial video images, the Helicopter Television System, created by researchers at Mitsubishi Electric Corp., Kamakura, Japan, now gives context to these images. This system provides remote operators a better understanding of how the aerial video relates to the physical geography. It also makes it easier to ensure that multiple helicopters or flyovers are covering the entire required area and instantaneously report the exact physical address of the area observed in the video. The system's core algorithm is based on detecting roads which will typically still be the most visible features after natural disasters.

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DTS Boosts Mining Potential

Stolar Research Corp., Raton, N.M., has devised a system that will improve the productivity and profitability of drilling and mining operations, while at the same time, reduce the risk of interrupting production due to low data rates or lack of information.

The Data Transmission System (DTS) is a real-time communications instrument that inductively couples radio waves to and from the skin of a drill pipe, rod, or tubing using loop antennas. As such, the DTS system does not require any additional wires or cables. The system takes advantage of the natural electromagnetic wave-guide properties of a hydrocarbon deposit to allow the entire drill string, and the immediate surrounding layers of rock, to become the actual data transmission channel.

This system should significantly increase the overall extraction efficiency of hydrocarbon resources. It is expected that in some reservoir environments, 50% of the oil or natural gas remaining in place after conventional production drilling techniques have been applied could be extracted when coupled with this new platform.

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Occupants Can Now Breathe Easier

Buildings are dynamic environments. That said, while the original basis for their design may have been sound, after occupancy a structure's conditions change. These changes sometimes have a major impact on the ability of the HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) system to maintain a balance between occupant comfort, health, productivity, and operating costs.

The OptiNet Facility Monitoring System, created by Gordon Sharp, Eric Desrochers, and David Farrington, from Aircuity Inc., Newton, Mass., networks high-performance sensors with an expert level, artificial intelligence program to continuously evaluate a building's indoor environmental conditions.

Unlike its competitors, OptiNet is able to handle large buildings with just one system and is the only sampling system to offer Web-based monitoring services.

The knowledge drawn from the OptiNet's measurements of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, total volatile organic compounds, small particles, temperature, and humidity can be used to optimize building performance, specifically its ventilation effectiveness, energy use, and indoor environmental quality.

This process better equips facilities managers to meet the challenge of maintaining healthy, productive environments.

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Data Transmission Takes Next Leap

The next leap in self-powered data transmission systems has been created by Ta-Chung Wu, an engineer at JDSU, Milpitas, Calif. The new High Power Optical Data (HiPOD) Link is a fully-isolated electric power delivery system that converts laser fight into electric power to drive electronics immune to high radio-frequency (RF) transmissions, electromagnetic interference (EMI); or magnetic fields.

Traditionally, copper cabling has been used in powering remote electronics. However, copper cable can be subject to EMI and potentially harmful ground loops or lightning discharges. The HiPOD technology solves this problem by replacing copper with fiber as the transmission medium, which in turn, offers interference-free, safer, and more environmentally friendly performance than traditional power delivery technologies.

Additional HiPOD advantages include; lightning-proof and spark-free performance; enhanced signal and data integrity; faster installations; and reduced maintenance. More info:


Monitor Checks Integrity of Power Plant

A short circuit in the rotor windings of an electric generator turned by waterpower, or hydrogenerators, can unbalance the massive spinning rotor, with potentially catastrophic consequences. While there have been monitoring systems for some time on the electrical integrity of the field windings, there was no real way for online measurements of the rotor windings.

A research team from Iris Power LP, Toronto, Canada; the Electric Power Research Institute, Palo Alto, Calif.; and the New York Power Authority, White Plains, has developed a system that fixes that problem. Their Hydro Flux Monitor provides real-time information on the flux profile of the spinning rotor from flux probes mounted on the hydrogenerator's stator in the 1.2-cm air gap. Out-of-spec peaks revealing electrical shorts within the rotor windings are recorded on the monitor. With proprietary algorithms continuously analyzing these flux patterns, the automated monitor provides an alarm when a shorted turn situation is detected, allowing immediate shutdown of the hydrogenerator and prevention of rotor bearing damage. More info:


Optimizing IC Design

Competition between integrated circuit (IC) suppliers remains fierce. At the heart of this battle, is the ability to craft effective/innovative IC design solutions. A new software tool developed by Jun Ye, of Brion Technologies, Santa Clara, Calif., aims to help chip manufacturer deliver on those requirements with Tachyon.

This technology is a special-purpose computing system that analyzes the design of an IC and generates a customized simulation of every step in that chip's production process. Specifically, it identifies regions on the chip that cannot be manufactured with sufficient margin for error, and performs corrections on those regions to ensure that the chip can be successfully and economically manufactured.

Central to its capabilities, is Tachyon's use of grey-scale image-based processing. Circuit designs are constructed out of vector-based polygons, which are suitable for design purposes, but are inadequate for the detailed manufacturing analysis that today's processes require. Tachyon uses the Nyquist Sampling Theory and implementation of Hopkins Optics Modeling to generate a 2-D grey-scale image of what will actually be produced on the manufacturing line.

It is the first product to move circuit layout data into the image domain. More info:


Better Electronic Testing

Electronic component and semiconductor device manufacturers depend upon electronic test and measurement platforms to aid them in assessing overall product performance. Even more desirable would be a system that is fast and economical. This is the framework behind the Series 2600 System SourceMeter Instrument, developed by engineers at Keithley Instruments, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio.

This Series 2600 System significantly lowers the cost and time required for tests for a wide range of materials and electronic components, silicon and compound semiconductor" devices, passive components, and materials. The Series 2600 is capable of storing and running hundreds of predefined tests, including the control of source-measure functions, test sequencing, limit comparisons, and pass/fail decisions (with conditional branching), component binning, and data storage.

The modular design of its instruments provides system scalability without any need for a mainframe, plus flexible triggering and test sequence control, allowing the test strip processor (TSP) to control other instruments, component handlers, and probes. In current and voltage (I-V) functional test applications, this new instrument is 2-4 times faster than existing testing technologies. If need be, these measurement tools can be used as stand-alone instruments, or configured for dedicated, special-purpose testing in tightly integrated multiple-instrument, multi-channel systems. More info:


Bye-Bye Bottleneck

The volume of data being generated in today's research schemes has placed ever-increasing demands on the computing infrastructure backing these efforts. Image and visualization data sets, for their part, are by their very nature quite large (i.e., terabytes to petabytes), which makes the task of processing all this data potentially enormous.

Los Alamos National Laboratory, N.M., scientist David Dubois, has taken on that challenge with the creation of PixelVizion: An NPU-Embedded Visualization Accelerator for Large Data Sets. PixelVizion is the first network processor unit (NPU)-based computer visualization tool. The system offers high-speed graphics composition for large-scale data routines using off-the-shelf hardware. Due to its high image composition rates (10 to 20 times faster than existing technologies) PixelVizion is able to break through the current image-processing bottleneck plaguing similar systems. In turn, users are able to more effectively engage their data. More info:


Going Wireless

These days one can find sensors in almost every aspect of research, and for that matter, daily life. Traditional sensors play on electrical signals to measure a certain physical property, i.e., temperature, weight, and current, etc., But NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va., scientists Stanley Woodard, Bryant Taylor, Qamar Shams, and Robert Fox, have taken sensors to the next step by creating a Magnetic Field Response Measurement Acquisition System.

This new measurement acquisition system uses magnetic fields to power sensors and to acquire measurements from sensors. This non-contact system consists of novel wireless sensors and a handheld programmable magnetic field response recorder that powers and reads the sensors. Power is wirelessly provided to the sensors by Faraday induction. An antenna housed in the hand-held unit produces a time-varying magnetic field to power the sensors while receiving the magnetic field response from the sensors. This type of architecture eliminates the need for wires and direct con tact between the sensor and the data acquisition system. In partnership with Messier Dowty, a manufacturer of aircraft landing gear, the new system was integrated into a landing gear shock strut to statically measure the hydraulic fluid levels. This marked the first dynamic measurements within a moving strut and reduced the time to check the fluid level from 5 hours to 1 sec. More info:


Building Better Batteries

The power requirements of current and future electronic devices has fueled research in high-performance battery applications. Among the improvements being sought are high-power density, rapid charge, better lifetime performance, higher thermal conductivity/lower impedance, and safety. The M1 lithium-ion battery crafted by engineers at A123Systems, Watertown, Mass., showcases these attributes. The M1 uses a nanotech-based material called dopate nano-phosphate. Based on this chemistry, the M1 is able to pulse discharge at rates as high as 100C (>200A) in short pulses, over an order of magnitude better than conventional lithium-ion cells. Moreover, the battery charges to more than 90% capacity within five mins and offers up to a 10x improvement in life versus existing lithium ion batteries based on both NiMH and NiCad varieties. In terms of power, the Ml's chemistry can deliver up to 3000W/kg, exceeding those levels offered by existing battery technologies. More


Power My Building Please

The solar power arena continues to offer innovations to improve user appeal. Traditionally, these innovations have come in the form of photovoltaic cell technologies. But a team of researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Sunlight Direct, LLC., both of Oak Ridge, Tenn., have reworked this standard and invented the Hybrid Solar Lighting System. This system uses a roof-mounted solar collector to concentrate visible sunlight into a bundle of plastic optical fibers; a first for the industry. The fibers are worked into the roof and distribute sunlight to multiple "hybrid" luminaries within a building. These luminaries blend the natural light with artificial light (of varying intensity) to maintain a constant level of room lighting. One collector in the Hybrid Lighting System can power 8 to 12 fluorescent hybrid light fixtures which can illuminate approx. 10 [m.sup.2]. On a sunny day, the system can deliver the equivalent light of 55-60W incandescent lamps--but without the associated heat, thus reducing the cost of both lighting and cooling. More info:


Cleaner Water Through Nanotech

Responding to the need for safer drinking water the world over, chemical engineers Troy Tranter, Terry Todd, and Scott Herbst, and scientist Nicholas Mann, at Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, have created a long-lasting, high-capacity nanocomposite polymer particle engineered to remove harmful arsenic concentrations from water.

Nano-Composite Arsenic Sorbent (N-CAS) is seven times more effective at removing arsenic from water than currently available technologies and is well-suited for industrial use. Moreover, this new technology is cost-effective (four to five times less expensive than current media) making it ideal for small communities, impoverished nations, and individual users. In the future, N-CAS will be employed into a small cartridge device for point-of-use drinking water treatment. The cartridge can be used at the tap or modified to attach to hand pump devices, which are typically used in the developing world to draw water from tube wells.

This material is compatible with packed-bed treatment systems and durable enough to withstand repeated regeneration cycles

without appreciable loss of capacity. Once used, the material itself is considered non-hazardous and can be safely disposed of in a conventional landfill.

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Driving Drilling

High-temperature applications such as gas and oil drilling place unique and stringent demands on the tools being employed. Case in point, in deep, high-temperature drilling, tools will encounter depths of 20,000 ft or greater, and temperatures in excess of 200[degrees]C. Given this environment, durability and performance are key. Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, N.M., High Power Battery Systems Co., Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, and General Atomics, San Diego, Calif., have addressed these demands with respect to battery power with the HTSS10V Fluoride Battery.

This new battery is a solid-state fluoride-based battery for use in high-temperature applications. Given that it is a solid-state battery, all three battery components--anode, cathode, and ionic conductor, are solid, eliminating the leak chemicals typically found in traditional batteries. All three components are stable up to 500[degrees]C, making it well-suited for use in the geothermal industry. Moreover, the HTSS10V fluoride battery can be easily transported to and from work sites as opposed to competing battery technologies such as lithium sulfuryl batteries, which can only be transported by ground and must be securely stored in explosive containers when on a drill rig for fear of short circuits or explosion.

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Lab Equipment

Air Liquid Nitrogen.

Virtually all dermatologists use liquid nitrogen for the treatment of skin diseases. As such, there is a need for liquid nitrogen on demand in dermatologists' offices. To meet this, Wilham Little, Wilham Hering, and Sam Spektor, all of MMR Technologies Inc., Mountain View, Calif., have created the ELAN2, an office-based liquid nitrogen generator capable of extracting nitrogen from the air and converting it to liquid nitrogen.

The system works by first compressing and drying ambient air. Carbon dioxide and other impurities are subsequently removed, and then most of the oxygen is filtered out. This process leaves 98% pure gaseous nitrogen. The gaseous nitrogen is then pre-cooled and liquefied at -196[degrees]C. Up to 6 L of liquid nitrogen can be produced in 24 hours using this system.

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Streamlining Paper Production

Paper manufacturing in the U.S. is the third largest consumer of energy in the nation. One of the reasons for this is that the analysis of paper's mechanical properties is slow and inefficient, and if the samples don't meet specifications, entire rolls are recycled into pulp or sold as an inferior grade. Much of this waste could be avoided if the paper's quality is evaluated during the manufacturing process, instead of afterwards. To that end, researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Calif., and the Institute of Paper Science and Technology at Georgia Tech, Atlanta, have developed the Laser Ultrasonic Sensor (LUS), a sensor for non-destructive, non-contact, quantitative, online measurements of the mechanical properties of paper at production speeds.

Using laser ultrasonics, acoustic waves are generated in the paper with a pulsed laser and are then monitored with a laser-based detector without touching the sample. The velocity at which the ultrasound waves travel from the excitation point, through the paper, to the detection point is directly related to the paper's bending stiffness and shear rigidity.

The ability to make these measurements with the LUS will result in greatly improved process control and decreased raw material use, energy costs, and labor costs. If all U.S. paper mills were to adopt the LUS, 34 million trees, 8 Terawatt-hr of energy, and $550 million could be saved each year.

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Life Science

Biomass Conversion Gets Xtreme

An enzyme that helps a microbe to thrive in hot, acidic waters in Yellowstone National Park may also enable U.S. industry to economically and sustainably produce fuels and chemicals from biomass. Xtreme Xylanase, developed by researchers at Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, is a highly acid- and thermally stable xylanase enzyme isolated from the Yellowstone National Park microbe Alicy-clobacillus acidocaldarius, cataloged in 1971. This enzyme is capable of efficiently converting the hemicellulose and cellulose components of biomass feedstocks into energy-rich sugars. These sugars are building blocks that can be used in place of petroleum to make fuels and high-value chemicals.

After the costs associated with raw materials feedstocks, pretreatment and its associated process requirements represent the largest driver of biomass conversion costs. Since Xtreme Xylanase breaks down both hemicellulose and cellulose over a wide range of low pHs, it could revolutionize the pretreatment process in a variety of ways. In addition, it enables the use of integrated pretreatments and acidophilic and/or thermophilic fermentations, leading to greatly simplified processing and significant economic benefits.

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Better Medicine Through Mineralization

Post-surgical infections and poor biocompatibility of orthopedic implants are very real and common dangers. But a new approach, dubbed the Surface-induced Mineralization (SIM) Technique for Calcium-Phosphate Coatings Incorporating Therapeutic Agents, developed by researchers at the Dept. of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland., Wash., aims to stem these threats.

The SIM technique allows biocompatible calcium-phosphate coatings enhanced with a therapeutic agent to be deposited on orthopedic implants and other medical devices, such as catheters and stents. The benefits to groups such as the U.S. military and the 30 million surgery patients in the private sector are twofold:

1) Calcium phosphate coatings containing an antimicrobial agent have been proven in tests to kill infection-causing bacteria or greatly inhibit bacteria growth in the body (by > 99%), which will help curb post-surgical infections,

2) The water based SIM deposition process coupled with the bioactive therapeutic agents provides an advanced method for applying pure catcium-phosphatecoatings--a natural component of bone--to artificial joints, allowing enhanced bone bonding and helping to avoid loosening of the implant.

Additionally, the SIM technique allows for room-temperature deposition of the calcium-phosphate coating, without the use of specialized instruments such as the $ I million or more depostion chambers used in vapor-phase techniques. For its part, the SIM technique uses equipment such as vats and does not require a staff to operate specialized equipment.

The U.S Dept. of Defense has already recognized the benefits of the SIM technique through its multimillion approporiation to Bacterin--a biomaterials research, commercialization company, Belgrade, Mont.--which licensed the technique for the purpose of developing antimicrobial coatings for orthopedic implants for use on the battlefield.

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Cancer Therapy in Seed Form

This year more than 230,000 men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. This statistic provides the backdrop for the development of The Cesium-131 Brachytherapy Seed, devised by scientists at IsoRay Medical, Inc., and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, both of Richland, Wash.

This new technology is an FDA-cleared treatment for prostate cancer that delivers its therapeutic radiation dose faster and with fewer side effects than existing treatments. This unique brachytherapy seed is comprised of a welded titanium capsule containing a gold x-ray marker surrounded by a proprietary ceramic core to which the cesium (Cs)-131 is chemically bound. Indeed, it is the innovative design of the seed that leads to one of its biggest advantages: even distribution of radiation.

In contrast to other isotopes in the brachytherapy market, the Cs-131 seed features a shorter half-life (9.7 days), higher initial dose rate (4 times that of iodine-123 and 1.5 times palladium-103), and lower total dose to the patient (30% margin), and better localized radiation dose with the targeted tissue and fewer effects on critical nearby organs. Developers note that the next step for this new brachytherapy treatment will be its application to other tumor types.

More info: www.isoray.oom


Super Laser Machining

Machinists are increasingly using femtosecond lasers for micromachining various materials due to their high quality and precision. However, femtosecond lasers are expensive and usually quite large in size. To overcome these limitations, General Atomics Photonics Division, San Diego, Calif., introduced the SuperPulse to obtain the manufacturing quality of a femtosecond laser with the utility of a nanosecond laser.

SuperPulse provides high-speed machining capability, with the quality of femtosecond processing, but without the complexity and cost. It delivers two pulses, near simultaneously, thereby providing the maximum "clean ablation" effects for numerous micromachining applications. Material is vaporized and removed before significant thermal diffusion can occur, minimizing heat-affected zones. This pulse format also minimizes the effects of nonlinear interaction with the atmosphere near the laser focus, which causes strong deformation of the laser beam and irregularly shaped features often observed in femtosecond laser machining. In addition, the SuperPulse is able to machine semiconductors, plastics, dielectrics, and a variety of metals and alloys at rates many orders of magnitude greater than what is achievable with femtosecond lasers.

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Strain Testing With Less Stress

The testing of the backplanes of large space-based telescope mirrors must be done under cryogenic vacuum conditions to simulate operation in deep space. This results in a large standoff distance between the test article and the measurement system and an inherently noisy vibration environment, due to the cryogenic vacuum pumps employed. Since the backplane supports optical components that must remain in alignment to within a fraction of a micron, the structure's change in shape must be measured with sub-micron resolution. A newly developed tool from 4D Technology Corp., Tucson, Ariz., is uniquely suited to this task. The SpeckleCam is a polarization-based electronic speckle pattern interferometer system that can measure the change in shape of very large structures, up to several meters in size, at a large standoff distance, tens of meters, and with very high precision, tens of nanometers. The system can acquire a measurement in 9 nsec and overcomes the deleterious effects of vibration and air turbulence that preclude the measurement of large structures with conventional systems.

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Red Light, Green Light

Wavelength conversion is directly useful for laser machining, energy research, and high-energy-density physics routines, allowing for the fundamental interactions of light and matter to be better understood. A drawback to existing wavelength converter crystals, however, has been that the heat (average power) from the laser must be carefully controlled.

In addition, the self-heating of existing wavelength conversion crystals prevents them from functioning efficiently. To deal with these issues, researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Calif., working jointly with researchers at Crystal Photonics, Inc., Sanford, Fla., have developed a Wavelength Converter for High-Average-Power Lasers.

This novel technology efficiently changes the color of laser light, enabling large-aperture, high-average-power lasers to operate at wavelengths different than the wavelength set by the laser medium.

The wavelength converter itself is a single plate of yttrium calcium oxyborate, YCOB, a new nonlinear crystal that is extremely tolerant of heating and thus can efficiently convert infrared light into green light, even in the presence of heat, using a single crystal.

These unique properties will allow researchers to design highly compact, more efficient, lower cost, and high-repetition rate laser systems.

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Streamlining Color Printing

Conventional color printing--whether digital or offset--involves significant prepress work so that the printed output matches what the creative designer specifies. Color specialists have traditionally used spectrophotometers to measure and duplicate the exact colors.

Researchers at Xerox Corp., Webster, N.Y., however, have offered a new variant of the spectrophotometer with the development of the LED-based Embedded Spectrophotometer, an in-line instrument that automates this labor-intensive pre-press activity by providing color measurements on demand.

The Xerox spectrophotometer allows printers to calibrate themselves and deliver consistent color. The spectrophotometer is embedded in the printer and can allow real-time control capabilities in the press to adjust the ink or toner and/or process. It can make full color measurements on each passing page or at predetermined intervals during a print run and can be used for closed loop control on the fly. While the machine is running, the system can make minute adjustments to all the pixels in the image at machine printing speed--no human involvement is required. With that adjustment, color prints can be made with color variations within perceptible limits:

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Materials & Metals

Explosives Go Green For The Environment

Since the late-19th century, lead azide and lead styphnate have been used worldwide as the primary explosives of choice despite the accumulation of toxic lead in human tissues and the environment.

Currently, the U.S. Army alone consumes more than 450 kg of lead-based primary explosives annually, equivalent to a release of more than 320 kg of lead to the environment.

Looking to curb these margins is My Hang Huynh at Los Alamos National Laboratory, N.M., developer of Green Primaries: Enviro-Friendly Energetic Materials. Green Primaries are novel explosive compounds that are environmentally friendly and nontoxic to human health, yet they also possess all the physical and chemical properties and sensitivities required of primary explosives. They are designed specifically to replace lead-based primaries in ammunition, detonators, and motor/actuator devices.

Green Primaries are made from nontoxic metals such as iron and copper, and, after detonation, leave behind no toxic residues. They also exhibit extraordinary sensitivities and properties, thereby improving Worker safety during manufacturing and transport. Manufacturing of Green Primaries is water-based with no harmful organic solvents or heavy metals, and there is no danger of explosion during manufacture.

In addition, manufacturing is less expensive than lead-based primaries, as there are no added waste-disposal costs associated with this technology.

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Dependable Drug Delivery

Although cardiologists may insert drug-eluting stents, none of the traditional stents today offer the benefit of slow, continuous drug elution over an extended period of time. To that end, scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Wash., along with Micell Technologies, Raleigh, N.C., have developed e-RESS: Revolutionizing Coatings with Nanoparticles.

The e-RESS (Electro-static Rapid Expansion of Supercritical fluidS) process is a method to deposit nanoparticulate coatings in a few simple processing steps. It is expected to give cardio-implant patients the comfort of better drug delivery and longer implant integrity.

The e-RESS process controls the pharmaceutical's time-release properties by providing precise control of particle size and particle structure. When applied to drug-eluting stents, this characteristic should inhibit growth of tissue on the stent and result in longer stent lifetimes.

In addition, the e-RESS process offers more effective delivery of the pharmaceutical, particularly in cases where a combination of therapeutic agents is necessary to prevent restenosis.

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World-class Auto Adhesive

In the automotive industry, the front-end carrier of a vehicle connects the upper and lower longitudinal body rails and plays a role in overall vehicle structural stiffness. Traditional steel front-end carriers are bolted or welded to the body. Adding subcomponents, however, requires welding attachment brackets, which increases weight and cost. Molded plastic front-end carriers, for their part, consolidate the number of parts being used as well as reduce weight and cost. However, in most cases, it still takes a hybrid structure of metal and plastic to resist loads on the carrier, particularly in a crash. To enable this hybrid structure, researchers at Dow Automotive, Auburn Hills, Mich., have developed BETAMATE low energy substrate adhesive (LESA). BETAMATE LESA is an adhesive that allows dissimilar materials, such as metals and plastics to be bonded in weight-bearing structural applications. The adhesive itself can be applied and cured at room temperature and requires no extra pressure during curing. These properties make the BETAMATE LESA a viable solution for replacing/supplementing welds and mechanical fasteners in the front-end carrier of a vehicle.

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Multipurpose Carbon Foam

GrafTech International Ltd., Parma, Ohio, along with T Clear Corp., Hamilton, Ohio, have developed a new material, GRAFOAM, an open cell, rigid carbon foam that can be produced in a density from 32 to 560 kg/[m.sup.3]. GRAFOAM has a uniform pore distribution size, which contributes to the high strength of the material and makes it easy to machine. It has a very high strength to weight ratio, and its temperature dependence is constant over its complete range of densities.

Low density GRAFOAM (32 to 80 kg/[m.sup.3]) can save lives, reduce construction time, and reduce heating costs when used in fireproof panels in doors, walls, and floors. These panels can also withstand impact, insulate, and protect against sound and electromagnetic interference. High density GRAFOAM (240 to 400 kg/[m.sup.3]) provides cost and flow-time reductions as a tool for large carbon composite parts used in the aerospace, marine, and automotive industries. It will also reduce the mass of tools, which in turn reduces handling issues with cranes, heat-up time in autoclaves, and rotational inertia which is critical in some applications.

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Affordable Alloy Production

The inherent properties of titanium, which include its light weight, superb specific strengths, overall high strengths, low thermal expansion, and superb corrosion resistance, make it a desirable material to use in aerospace, defense and transportation applications. However, state-of-the-art titanium processing is expensive.

To reduce this expense, researchers at Material and Electrochemical Research (MER) Corp. have developed Low Cost Free Formed Titanuim Alloys (LCF-TiA), an innovative process to produce near net shape titanium alloy components at approximately five times lower cost than traditional processing such as casting. LCFTiA eliminates many costly steps and utilizes only two unit operations to produce a near net shape titanium alloy component.

The key to the LCFTiA process is the high ductility of primary titanium sponge, which easily forms and cold welds its surfaces together when deformed. The process feeds titanium sponge into sets of rollers and, through successive reduction steps, cold forms it into a wire shape. This wire is then fed into a plasma transferred arc and melted to form an alloy in one step. Components produced with the LCFTiA process have mechanical properties at least equivalent to standard conventionally produced, higher cost components.

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Nanostructured Nickel

Nickel is important not only as a component of such materials as stainless steel and high-temperature alloys, but in its finer forms as a conductive filler. In order to enhance the useful properties of nickel, such as conductivity, magnetic properties, catalytic efficiency, and chemical stability, George Hansen of Metal Matrix Composites Company LLC, Midway, Utah, and William Jenkin of William C. Jenkin Company, Akron, Ohio, have developed Nanostrands, three-dimensionally interconnected, self-assembled lattices of sub-micron and nanostructured strands of nickel.

Nanostrands have two unique properties that allow them to perform better than competing materials: 3-D interconnectivity and a high degree of nanostructured branching. When dispersed into certain elastomers, Nanostrands increase conductivity by about two to three orders of magnitude under either slight compression or tension. The increase in conductivity under compression is well-understood and is observed in several other conductive additives, but the increase in conductivity under tension is unique to Nanostrands.

The principal applications of Nanostrands are those in which a lightweight polymer--or composite-based material is required, but where a level of conductivity approaching that of metal is also required. Such applications include electromagnetic interference shielding, electrostatic discharge protection, grounding/antennas, and lightning strike protection.

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Mitigating Metal Dusting

Degradation of metallic structural components by metal dusting has been a concern within hydrogen, methanol, and ammonia gas production lines for over 50 years. These industries have significant uncertainties about the mechanism that leads to metal dusting in their systems, and they have not been able to develop an approach to combat this corrosion. This scenario may soon change with the addition of Materials Resistant to Metal Dusting Degradation, developed by Krishnamurti Natesan and Zuotao Zeng at Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), Ill.

These new ANL-developed alloys perform significantly better than currently available commercial alloys when tested in a metal dusting environment because of their ability to develop oxide scales that are resistant to carbon attack. This breakthrough can lead to a complete redesign of reformers with improved efficiency, increased product yield, and decreased energy consumption. An estimated $220-$290 million can be saved annually in the hydrogen industry alone. The ANL-developed alloys can also be used in other chemical and petrochemical industries and could lead to fewer maintenance shutdowns and higher productivity. With the current thrust toward a hydrogen-based economy, the long-range potential for the application of the new alloys is substantial.

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Responders Keep Their Cool

Heat stress is a significant issue that affects the health, safety, and operational performance of military personnel and emergency responders. Presently, there are personal cooling systems on the market such as vests with ice or phase-change materials. However, these products have no control over the amount of cooling or the temperature at which cooling is supplied.

The good news is that Aspen Systems, Inc., Marlborough, Mass, and the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Center, Mass., have developed the Microclimate Cooling System. This cooling unit is the smallest vapor cycle system ever developed, weighing less than 5 kg. It has a cooling capacity of 300 W, a minimum mission length of two to four hr, with an operating ambient temperature range of 60 120[degrees]F. The cooling system is already replacing ice-based systems currently used by first responders.

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System Has No Strings Attached

The Explorer is a long-range-tetherless, self-powered robotic system for the live, visual inspection of natural gas and other pipelines. The system was created by researchers at the Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon Univ., Pittsburgh, Pa.; Polytechnic Univ., Brooklyn, N.Y.; NYSEARCH/Northeast Gas Association, New York, N.Y.; Strategic Center for Natural Gas and Oil, National Energy Technology Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy, Morgantown, W.V.; Jet Propulsion Lab, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, and ULC Robotics Inc., Deer Park, N.Y.

Since the system is wireless, it can negotiate around bends, tees, and other obstacles. Furthermore, the process to launch the system prevents air from coming into contact with the natural gas ensuring a reliable and safe operation. It is the first robotic system to provide visual inspection, as well as non-destructive evaluation of pipeline systems and requires a minimum number of access points into the pipe.

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HotEye Watches for Defects

In an effort to increase the integrity of steel products, Tzyy-Shuh Chang, Hsun Haung, and Daniel Gutchess at OG Technologies, Inc., Ann Arbor, Mich., have created the HotEye RSB. This automatic, non-contact, in-line, vision system inspects the surface of steel rod or bar products. It can inspect the entire surface of these products and detect defects as small as 25[micro]m while a bar--up to 14 km in length--is at temperatures reaching 1,450[degrees] C and traveling at speeds of up to 1 l0 m/sec.

In real time, the system provides a report on each surface defect as to its size, severity, type, and location on the rod/bar, while providing an image for each defect. Since this system automatically inspects the steel, it replaces the need for workers to be in close proximity to the hot steel.

However, the more important safety impact of HotEye RSB is its improvement in the quality of the steel, which is typically used in critical elements of products, such as axles in automobiles and fasteners in airplanes.

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United Functions Equal Safer Driving

As global automobile sales increase, so do the demands for safer vehicles. This social mandate has driven researchers at Toyota Motor Corp., Shizuoka, Japan, to create the world's first commercial production of a mechanically active steering system that can simultaneously control both the steering angle and steering torque similar to a steer-by-wire system.

The VDIM-Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management-with Active Steering (for the LEXUS GS430) unites the independent functions of an ABS (antilock breaking system), TRC (traction control system), and VSC (vehicle stability control) to provide smoother, safer vehicle movements. The system breaks down the barrier between the control functions and determines the forces generated by all four wheels. It then makes the calculations to control the brake force for each wheel. This is especially important on slippery road surfaces.

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Micro Bubbles; Macro Clean

To reduce the negative environmental impact of industrial cleaning processes, developers at Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, Hyogo, Japan, have designed the Microbubble Cleaning Process and System. Traditionally, industrial cleaning processes include the use of large amounts of hazardous chemicals. Although functional water cleaning and high-pressure jet cleaning have been developed to solve these problems, they are nonetheless inefficient in removing grease and throughput performance

The new system uses high density micro bubbles--about 70[micro]m in diameter--which uniformly reach grease even on various-sized and complex-shaped instruments. The grease is removed by adsorption onto the bubble surface and then separated by buoyancy. The grease on the water surface is then drained out to an overflow bath. This cleaning solution reduces running costs by about 10%.

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Robots Get a Better Grip

Until now, robotic grippers needed end effectors specially designed for specific tasks, which limited the range of objects that robots could accommodate. However, the new Conformal Robotic Gripper/Conformal Automated Fixture, created by John Vranish, at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbek, Md., enables robots to simply pick up any shaped object and manipulate it--including tools used to perform specific jobs--without changing end effectors.

In addition, the conformal gripper eliminates the need for developing a special end effector for every batch of gears, washers, and housing items. The novel mechanism uses pins--typically 1/4" x 1/4", but can be smaller or larger--that gently flex to the shape of the object being held, and distribute the load force and reduce the likelihood of crushing fragile objects. The precise pin movements allow it to hold even very small objects. Once the object is secured, it cannot be pulled or twisted from the gripper without frame-braking force or torque. Still, in the absence of strong external forces, the object will be held with a very soft touch.

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Groundbreaking Camera System

High-speed cameras are used in a number of research and industrial applications, such as explosion monitoring, materials analysis, and high-speed fluid movement studies. The power of these cameras to document these events accurately and quickly, however, has been stifled by the fact that as recording speeds increase, resolution levels suffer. A novel technology, the HPV-1, developed by a group of researchers at Shimadzu Corp., Kyoto, Japan, aims to completely eliminate that challenge.

The HPV-1 is an ultra-high speed digital video camera capable of capturing 100 images of 81,000 pixels at up to 1,000,000 frames/sec, making it the only high-speed digital video camera capable of combining that frame rate, with the total frame number (100) at constant resolution, regardless of frame rate.

These performance levels were achieved through a series on innovations including the inclusion of a newly-developed single-chip charge coupled device (CCD) image sensor called the In-situ Storage Image Sensor (ISIS). Within the ISIS chip, the cells are aligned so that the distance of the charge transfer is shortened. In this way, transfer speed can be increased without sacrificing transfer efficiency. Reducing the transfer distance also decreases noise.

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No Touch Fingerprint ID

Fingerprint identification systems traditionally enlist sensor devices to detect a fingerprint pattern on the surface of a finger. The problem with this approach, however, has been its susceptibility to finger conditions (wet/dry) or ambient environments (humidity), leading to failures. Scientists at Mitsubishi Electric Corp., Amagasaki, Japan, have offered a solution to this scenario with the Fingerprint Identification Device Using Scattered Transmission Light. This new technology uses a new sensing principle to detect a fingerprint pattern. Rather than characterizing the print on the surface of a finger, this system forms images of fingerprint patterns inside a finger, using the optical transmissance characteristics of a finger's interior; at no time does the finger need to be in contact with the sensor. This approach eliminates any error caused by conditions or environment, and lends itself to a more accurate authentication. Moreover, the product has a function to prevent fake fingers to be used by recognizing whether the object inserted is real or not.

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LEAP Takes Another LEAP

In 2004, scientists at Imago Scientific Instruments Corp., Madison, Wisc., developed the LEAP or Local Electrode Atom Probe microscope. This system, a winner of a 2004 R&D 100 Award, delivered a 40x increase in field of view and gains of a 100x in sample analysis rates than those found in conventional atom microscopes. A profound development in the world of atom-probe tomography, LEAP was configured with an initial voltage-pulsed configuration suited to analyze materials with only high electrical conductivity (102 to 107 S-cm). This limited the available class of materials that could be analyzed to metals, and some highly-doped semiconductors, leaving out classes of materials of lower electrical conductivity such as ceramics. This is no longer the case with the LEAP 3000X, which now features a laser pulse capability, permitting the analysis of lower electrical conductivity materials. In addition, the new system boasts a wider field of view and a new delay-line anode detector. More


Behold the Titan

It goes without saying, that within the world of microscopy, resolution is paramount. High-resolution levels, after all, drive the ability of researchers to gain as much data/insight into the object under investigation. Hampering resolution gains, however, have been the effects of spherical and chromatic aberrations. These issues have been addressed in the Titan 80-300 (S/TEM), developed by Michiel van der Stam, system architect at FEI Company, Eindhoven, The Netherlands.

The Titan 80-300 Scanning Transmission Electron Microscope (S/TEM) uses aberration correctors and a monochromator to provide the highest available resolution for imaging and analysis, boasting a three-fold improvement in directly interpretable image resolution over uncorrected TEMs. In addition to correctors and monochromators, the design of the Titan has been optimized throughout for high-resolution studies. These considerations include an ultra-high stability power supply and particular attention to the elimination of mechanical and electrical vibrations, which have been known to plunge experimental results into disarray.

So far, the Titan has found an audience within the material science and microelectronics arenas, as well as the nanotechnology space, which can directly benefit from the increased spatial resolution afforded by this platform.

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All Eyes on Us

From anti-terrorism to traffic enforcement, surveillance technologies continue to play a vital role in protecting/securing the world's citizens. Engineers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), Lux Solis, LLC., and Logos Technologies, all of Livermore, Calif., and SequoiaTek Corp., Bakersfield, Calif., have offered a new variant on existing surveillance systems with the Sonoma Persistent Surveillance System. Expressly designed for nonproliferation applications, Sonoma is an end-to-end systems approach to monitoring a large field of view, with sufficient resolution and frame rate to track all moving objects in a given field.

Specifically, Sonoma features a spatial and temporal resolution capable of tracking upwards of 8,000 moving objects in a field of view. Moreover, it is capable of conducting these routines continuously, in real-time, 24 hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week. The system itself is comprised of an airborne platform, either manned/unmanned aircraft, medium to high altitude aerostats, long endurance UAVs, or spacecraft, equipped with a stabilized tracking gimbal, accurately locked to 5-10 microradians. The cameras employed are commercial, off-the-shelf 11 Mpx, 12-bit cameras.

To avoid artifacts and allow the transmission of volumes of data to the ground, all data is processed on board the airborne platform with LLNL's RegRT image processing software combined with standard graphic processor units.

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Doing Combat with phasorBIRD

Equipping our nation's military personnel remains an active area of R&D within industry, academia, and government. Among the areas of intensive research are tactical imaging and tracking technologies. To that end, engineers Don O' Dell and Vlad Kogan, of Ascension Technology Corp., Burlington, Vt., have created the phasorBIRD. This novel helmet-mounted display system is a high-resolution, "lens-less" optical tracking device, used to track a pilot's head motions for target acquisition purposes, in either tactical air or ground-based combat vehicles.

In operation, phasorBIRD enables a pilot to aim weapons, acquire mission-critical information, and receive self-protection prompts by simply looking at a target through a reticle superimposed on their visor. Unlike current generation helmet tracking devices, phasorBIRD alone meets Dept. of Defense specifications for head tracking in next-generation tactical vehicles. Specifically, it exceeds both accuracy and measurement requirements of 0.1 degree and 300 measurements/sec while being compatible with night-vision goggles. Moreover, this system offers users six degrees-of-freedom tracking and is immune from the affects of cockpit/helmet metal, which has traditionally attributed to higher costs.

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SEM Routines Get Unmasked

First invented in the late-1930s, scanning electron microscopes (SEMs) have remained powerful tools for the characterization of a sample surface. Among its devotees are material scientists and researchers in the microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) arenas who use SEM to perform mechanical testing of micrometer-scale components.

Developers at Touchstone Research Laboratory, Ltd., Triadelphia, W.Va., and MTS Nano Instruments, Oak Ridge, Tenn., have offered a new level of performance to these testing routines with the NxSEM. The NxSEM is a next-generation accessory for SEMs, which enables researchers to observe the tests while they're being conducted in an SEM environment. Researchers can forces, displacements, and acoustic emissions, all while observing a sample in real-time in the SEM. NxSEM's architecture consist of a linear motion feedthrough, which is the loading mechanism. It can precisely move the text fixture, even at very low speeds--as low as 0.127 [micro]m/sec--and can apply a force ranging from a few [micro]N to 9 kg. The load is measured by a miniature load cell. A non-contact eddy current displacement gage is used to measure displacement. An acoustic emission sensor is placed onto the stage, providing information on changes in the test samples even when not measured by the load cell, or displacement gage, or when observed with SEM imaging.

The NxSEM is completely computer-controlled with computerized data acquisition, allowing the test data to all be captured simultaneously for later use. In terms of resolution capability, this new platform offers a 100 times improvement over current technology in the attainable resolution in load-testing schemes.



New Tool for Nm Precision

The flurry of nanotechnologv based research has driven the development of specialized labs and tools to accommodate this type of work. Included in this group are three dimensional profilometers. These instruments enable scientists to measure the surface roughness, critical dimensions, and other topographical features of samples. Engineers at the Advanced Production Systems Development Co.. Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., Osaka, Japan, have taken the standard 3-D profilometer and added a series of design innovations to create an Ultrahigh Accurate 3-D Profilometer Using a Nanometer Level Atomic Force Probe. Model UA3P-300. This new platform can measure over a wide area max: 400 x 4011 x 90 mm) features a resolution level of 10 nm. a measurement tilt angle of up to 75[degrees]. and a speed of 0.1~5 mm/sec. These performance levels are achieved through the inclusion of an atomic force probe and a He Ne-based laser measurement system, new coordinate measurement technology, and proprietary software. Primary applications for this technology include the creation of aspherical lenses used in items such as DVDs, digital cameras, and camera phones.

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Lighting Up Nano-scale Materials

As nanotechnology based research continues to boom, so do the challenges, among them effective imaging and characterization. Ac complishing these routines on materials of this scale requires extremely sophisticated, and often times, costly instrumentation such as scanning electron and transmission electron microscopes. Researchers at Auburn Univ. and Aetos Technologies, Inc., both of Auburn, Ala., have offered an alternative with the CytoViva. This device serves as an optical illumination system and can mount in place of the condenser on an existing optical micro scope using a 24 W metal halide light source. Utilizing highly collimated oblique illumination, the system produces a high signal-to noise ratio which provides increased resolution (< 100 nm) and detection (<50 nm).

While common nanocomposite imaging methods, such as electron microscopy, often require sample preparation such as dehydration and fixation, the CytoViva enables researchers to directly observe nano-composite components in their native form, without aggressive sample preparation.

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Revamping TEM

Transmission electron microscopy (FEM)based research has experienced a first with the creation of the TEM PicoIndenter. Developed by Oden Warren and Syed Asif, of Hysitron, hat., Minneapolis, Minn., the device is the first instrument to perform in situ depth sensing indentation in a TEM.

Depth-sensing indentation (a.k.a., nanoindentation) involves continuously acquiring direct measurements of the depth o[ a penetration (as well as measures of a contact load) while indenting a sample, usually, with a sharp diamond indenter. This approach stands as the most commonplace method to determine the mechanical properties of a small volume of a material.

It situ observation, for its part, refers to capturing a stream of TEM images illustrating the dynamics of the indentation process. The TEM PicoIndenter fuses these high-resolution techniques into one device enabling researchers to garner insight into dynamic material deformation processes that occur during quantitative indentation tests.

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Stepping Up Scanning Modes

Live cell imaging routines are at the heart of fields such as cell biology, neuroscience, and cancer research. Central to these studies is the ability to detect and precisely and rapidly image the motion of the cells in question. Researchers from Carl Zeiss MicroImaging, Thornwood, NY, and Carl Zeiss, Advanced Imaging Microscopy, Jena, Germany, have delivered a tool with such features in the LSM 5 DUO, Laser Scanning Microscope Workstation.

This platform consists of two previous R&D 100 winning technologies, the Zeiss ISM 510 META, parallel scanning multi-spectral imaging system (2002 winner) and the LSM 5 LIVE ultra-fast confocal system (2005). Developers maximized the benefits of both these platforms by being able to integrate both of their scanning modules at the same time in the DUO. This approach allows researchers to image samples at high speeds while applying a localized laser stimulation. Detailed motion studies in live cell analysis can also be fully realized in 2-, 3-, 4-, and 5-dimensions. More info:


New Integration Level

The sheer number of techniques showcased in the microscopy arena can be daunting to say the least. There is atomic force, confocal, electron, scanning probe, Raman, transmission electron, and even x-ray microscopy, just to name a few. While each of these techniques provides a unique set of results, there is a need for systems that will also have the flexibility to deliver complementary information on the objects under study, through the use of different techniques. This capability is realized in the NTEGRA Spectra, created by developers at NT-MDT Co., Moscow, Russia, and NanoTech-America, Inc., Allen, Texas.

This platform integrates scanning probe and laser confocal microscopies with Raman spectrometry to study the distribution of chemical properties with molecular resolution. Weak Raman signals are optimized through the inclusion of a choice of lasers and a dual-channel spectrometer offering a spatial resolution of 30-50 nm with enough throughput for both traditional Raman mapping and single molecule detection.

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Process Technology

Getting Gas to More Places for Less

Natural gas is the fastest growing major energy source in the nation, according to the U.S. Dept. of Energy. Because it is clean burning and competitively priced, natural gas is widely used for electric power generation, residential and commercial heating, and cooling and as a feedstock for products such as plastics and fertilizers. Gas pipelines crisscross much of the U.S. making this fuel available in most urban areas. However, for end-users not near a pipeline, there is a growing need for smaller, less expensive liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities. Researchers at the Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, have made this prospect a reality by developing a new LNG-based technology dubbed The Compact High Efficiency Natural Gas Liquefier. This technology does not require as large a production facility, therefore is less expensive to build and operate and produces a lower cost product than existing commercial approaches, including large-scale, centralized processing plants. This new liquefier also boasts a design with only two major moving parts and sophisticated software that allows virtually unattended, low-maintenance operation.

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Revamping Titanium Production

Titanium boasts a range of attractive properties for both research and industrial applications. It's lustrous and ductile, with the strength of steel but, 43% lighter, twice as strong as aluminum, and more corrosion resistant than stainless steel. Its alloy, NiTi, is one of three known alloys with shape memory, making it an ideal metal for dental braces and eyeglass frames. However, the current method for producing titanium parts involves costly, time-intensive machining.

Fortunately, developers, Eric Nyberg, Kevin Simmons, and K. Scott Weil, from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Wash., have created TiMIM: a New Technique for Titanium Metal Injection Molding. This process is a quantum leap forward in titanium metallurgy by overcoming barriers of impurity intrusion enabling cost-effective production of titanium parts that is finally on par with steel and stainless steel manufacturing. The process also has the potential to cut raw materials requirements by a third or more.

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Better Bioconversion

Nations throughout the world are mandating that biomass products replace fossil fuels in an effort to decrease dependence on foreign re-sources, develop local economic activity, and protect the environment. These are driving forces for the development of integrated biorefineries. In a joint effort, researchers at Argonne National Laboratory, Ill., and Archer Daniels Midland Co., Decatur, Ill., have created the Separative Bioreactor for the Production and Recovery of Biobased Products.

The separative bioreactor combines the advantages of the selectivity and specificity of enzymatic reactions (or fermentations), the technical advantages of heterogeneous catalysis, and the energy efficiency of electrically driven separations with the performance advantages of chromatography into a single-unit operation. Moreover, it reduces the chemical input, and waste output, making it a viable platform for the production and recovery of biobased products, including organic acids.

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MIST Benefits Foundry Industries

The Metal Infusion Surface Treatment (MIST) is an advanced, low-cost infused coating technology that is applied to finished industrial components resulting in improvement in their life and performance. MIST has been proven applicable to reducing metal-casting die wear and checking, reducing friction coefficients on certain materials, and acting as a host for catalyst ions for high- temperature diesel engine exhaust emissions treatment. This platform is also applicable to both metal and ceramic components and is independent of any coefficient of thermal expansion mismatch issue.

The technology was created by developers from C3 International, LLC, Alpharetta, Ga.; Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tenn.; Hayes Lemmerz International Inc., Bristol, Ind.; Surface Engineering Associates, Cleveland, Ohio; Infrared Heating Technologies, LLC, Oak Ridge, Tenn.; Magna-Tech Manufacturing, Muncie, Ind.; Advanced Materials Associates, Breckenridge, Colo.; Vitek Performance, Atlanta, Ga.; Pyromation, Inc., Fort Wayne, Ind.; Delaware Tool & Machinery, Muncie, Ind.; Heinz North America, Freemont, Ohio; University of Tennessee, Knoxville; and North American Die Casting Association (NADCA), Wheeling, Ill.

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Super Dry Paper

In the paper and pulp industry, certain drying operations have not changed significantly since their development nearly two centuries ago. However, researchers at Argonne National Laboratory, Ill., the Univ. of Illinois at Chicago, and Kadant Johnson, Three Rivers, Mich., have recently developed a revolutionary concept that offers a radically new approach to this process.

The Multiport Dryer Technology for the Forest Products Industry has been designed to increase paper drying efficiency by more than 5070 than that of conventional paper dryers. Additional savings are realized as the new technology is being introduced as a retrofit, which avoids the high costs of installing new equipment. It is estimated that this technology has the potential to increase paper production rates up to 5070, and save up to 16.6 trillion Btu/yr by 2030.

As well as earning an R&D 100 award, the dryer has also been recognized by the U.S. Dept. of Energy with a Best Project award.



Cost-effective Aluminum Production

The domestic aluminum industry is at a juncture where the replacement of 10- to 25-year-old melting hardware is required. The high price of fuel also necessitates, the adoption of an energy efficient melting process, as energy costs constitute more than 50% of the cost to process molten aluminum.

Answering this call, researchers at Apogee Technologies, Verona, Pa., and Aleris International--Aleris Rolled Products, Uhrichsville, Ohio, have created the Isothermal Melting Process (ITM). The ITM is an advanced high-performance aluminum melting process, with dramatically reduced energy consumption. Moreover, the process produces no inplant emissions, and uses less floor space. Specifically, this process operates at a melting energy requirement of 552 BTU/1b A1, (industry average: more than 1,800 BTU/1b A1), melt loss less than 1%, and requires one-third the floor space of a conventional aluminum melter.

Analysis has indicated that the ITM process can provide an annual cost savings of more than :$300 million, based only on energy savings alone.

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Introducing Nanofermentation

The first fundamentally new approach for making nanoscale ceramic materials in more than 50 years has been developed by researchers at Oak Ridge National Laborarory, Tenn. NanoFermentation: A Bioprocess for Manufacturing Inorganic Nanomaterials, is the first system to use industrial bioprocessing methods to manufacture nanometer-scale, inorganic engineering materials rather than organic compounds.

It harnesses the natural metabolic processes of metal-reducing bacteria to create tailored single-crystal nanoparticles of important engineering materials, particularly ferrites. It is a low-cost, environmentally benign process and can synthesize materials for applications such as magnetic media, ferrofluids, xerographic toner, catalysts, pigments, water treatment, and coatings.

This process is easily scaled to large quantities and is adaptable to standard industrial fermentation practices.

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Finally... a Robot to Wash the Floor

Since the word robot was coined eight decades ago, people have been asking the age-old question, "When will there be a robot that washes my floors for me?" The answer is now. Developers from iRobot, Burlington, Mass., the same company that brought the world the vacuuming robot Roomba, now present Scooba. This is the first fully autonomous, floor washing robot for home use. The small, 10 cm-high device simultaneously preps, washes, scrubs, and dries hard floors in one pass (although the robot will usually pass over the same area more than once.)

Scooba's motions are guided using iRobot's AWARE Robot Intelligence System which is used to calculate the best path to clean the floor using techniques, such as spiraling, wall following, and room crossing. It cleans around carpets and furniture and detects steps and drop-offs so it will not travel over an edge. Scooba can clean up to 19[m.sup.2] of floor with a full tank of water making its total weight 5 kg. Once it finishes its cleaning cycle, Scooba turns on an internal dry mode, that removes any liquid remaining on its brushes and inside parts, preparing it for storage. More info:



Privacy-enhanced Threat Detection

In response to the critical and timely need to detect threats and contraband hidden on the body--while maintaining privacy--Alex Chalmers at American Science and Engineering, Inc., Billerica, Mass., designed the SmartCheck Personnel Screening System.

This system utilizes Z-Backscatter technology to display both organic and metallic materials hidden on a person's body, revealing iobjects such as guns and knives, plastic explosives, composite weapons, drugs, and other hidden threats and contraband. Its easily interpreted, photo-like Z-Backscatter image gives the operator an easy-to-read display of where the threat or contraband is hidden, thus eliminating the need for intrusive and time-consuming pat-down and strip searches.

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Explosives Detection Made Easy

Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Calif., and Field Forensics Inc., St. Petersburg, Fla., have developed a new, compact way to screen for explosives. The E.L.I.T.E. (Easy Livermore Inspection Test for Explosives), Model EL100 card is a shirt-pocket-sized trace explosives test that is robust, cheap, and simple enough to be used by security forces everywhere. It is self-contained, requiring only a small auxiliary heating system such as a butane lighter or battery-powered heater.

The E.L.I.T.E. card contains a swipe that is rubbed on the suspect area to collect a sample. The swipe is then placed back into the card for analysis. The presence of explosives is indicated by a simple color change from the white of the swipe to highly colored compounds visible to the naked eye, with the entire process completed in roughly one minute.

Although the E.L.I.T.E. utilizes colorimetric detection that has been around for decades, its construction and unique card components give it vastly superior detection limits, an increased list of detectable explosives, and greatly simplified use. The end result is an explosives detector that makes screening for high explosives faster, easier, and safer than ever before.

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Better Bio-threat Detection

Ultraviolet laser-induced auto-fluorescence (UV-LIF) triggers are one of the most effective near-real-time detection technologies for fast response to aerosolized pathogens, such as bacterial spores and viruses. The problems with conventional UV-LIF triggers are their high cost, complexity, and large size. In addition, laser-based triggers have additional ownership expenses due to the short lifetime and high replacement cost of optical sources. These drawbacks have prevented adoption by commercial building owners, leaving building occupants vulnerable to biological threats.

AirSentinel is a continuously-operating sensor that detects potentially harmful airborne biological threats. Developed by researchers at MesoSystems Technology, Inc., Albuquerque, N.M., AirSentinel overcomes the drawbacks of conventional UV-LIF triggers. Where other triggers use sequential analysis of airborne particulates, AirSentinel collects and interrogates a composite sample taken at a user-selectable interval. In addition, AirSentinel uses a commercial-off-the-shelf, LED-based optical system that is a fraction of the size, price, and complexity of earlier systems.

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Making Mines Safer

The present practice for evaluating the volatility of coal and rock dust mixtures in the nation's underground coal mines entails gathering dust samples and mailing them to a remote laboratory for chemical analysis. This process is long and involved and does not allow for the immediate correction of potentially dangerous situations. However, the Coal Dust Explosibility Meter--Model 100 (CDEM), developed by Michael Sapko at the' National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Pittsburgh, Pa., working jointly with researchers at Geneva College Center for Technology Development, Beaver Falls, Pa., addresses this longstanding problem.

The CDEM is a handheld, lightweight, battery-operated, electro-optical device designed to provide an immediate in-situ method for measuring the level of explosion protection afforded by current rock dusting practices. To use the CDEM, the mine inspector first collects a representative dust sample from the mine entry. After the sample is combined with a drying agent, it is transferred to the sample cup and pressed against the CDEM lens. A green indicator means the mixture is non-explosive, and a red indicator means the mixture is explosive. If the mixture is explosive, the mine operator can immediately add more rock dust to inert the coal. More info:



Rapid Data Visualization

While most post-processing tools that have been available for the past decade have included volume rendering capabilities, they have typically been non-interactive tools in the engineering process due to hardware and algorithm limitations. With the advent of the modern graphics processing unit (GPU) and the new OpenGL2.0 standard, new tools and algorithms have been developed to allow volume rendering to take place in real-time.

One such tool is Texture Based Engineering Tools (TBET), designed by Kenneth Bryden, Gerrick Bivins, and Douglas McCorkle, at Ames Laboratory, Iowa State Univ. TBET is a software toolkit that allows engineers to interrogate large transient datasets quickly by utilizing the GPU. It has initially been implemented with the Virtual Engineering Suite (VE-Suite) and is open source, available under the GNU Lesser General Public License.

TBET takes large 3-D data sets and quickly converts them into pictures that allow engineers to gain an unparalleled insight into problems represented by the data. It is a novel addition to the tools used within the engineering community, reducing the complexity that the engineering community has to deal with when working with complex models.

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A Better Way to Analyze Stress

Engineers have struggled for decades to develop reliable stress calculation methods for fatigue design and life prediction routines of structures such as automobiles, aircraft, bridges, oil rigs, ship structures, and power plants. A key problem with conventional stress calculation methods is that they are mesh-sensitive at fatigue-prone locations such as notches and corners. Because existing methods depend so heavily upon computer model mesh or element size, the results from existing methods are not predictable. All of that has changed with the introduction of the Verity mesh-insensitive structural stress analysis method developed by researchers at Battelle, Columbus, Ohio. Verity's mesh-insensitive predictions eliminate the inconsistencies of current procedures and reduce the chance of design errors.

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Building Smarter Robots

The allure of robots is that they can be sent into situations that are too dangerous or too difficult for humans. The problem with using robots for such demanding duty is that they lack the intrinsic intelligence necessary to be truly independent. Dependence on artificial input from positioning systems and/or direct human control produces a dangerous susceptibility to failure--when communications are lost, remote robots inevitably stop dead in their tracks or wander aimlessly. To combat this problem, David Bruemmer, Douglas Few, and Miles Walton, at Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, have developed the INL Robot Intelligence Kernel (RIK), a low-cost, onboard control architecture that gives robots exceptional new levels of autonomy and "intelligence," revolutionizing robot capabilities and the robot/operator relationship.

The INL RIK provides any mobile robot with intelligence comparable to a highly trained police dog. Like a well-trained dog, robots enlisting the INL RIK are able to navigate complex indoor and outdoor spaces, search for objects and people, chase or follow suspects at high speed, identify target items such as landmines, and detect the movement of people or objects.

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Optimizing Resource Allocation

Parallel processing on supercomputers gives rise to the problem of resource allocation. To address this issue, researchers at Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, N.M., collaborated with researchers from the State Univ. of New York, Stony Brook, and the Univ. of Illinois, Urbana, to develop the Compute Process Allocator (CPA). CPA is the first allocator to balance individual job allocation with future allocation over 10,000 processors, allowing jobs to be processed faster and more efficiently.

In simulations and experiments, CPA increased the locality and throughput on a parallel computer by 23% over simpler one-dimensional allocators. In simulations, CPA increased the locality on a parallel computer by 1% over more time-consuming, higher-dimensional allocators. CPA is distributed and scales to over 10,000 nodes, while non-distributed allocators have been scaled to only 4,096 nodes.

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Mining Sapphire

Scientists' ability to collect data far outpaces their ability to find useful information within it. This problem of data overload is an increasingly major impediment to progress in several scientific domains. To address this, researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Calif., used technologies from several different fields in developing Sapphire Scientific Data Mining Software, a toolkit for the analysis of massive, complex datasets arising from scientific experiments, observations, and computer simulations.

Sapphire focuses on the end-to-end process of finding useful information Within data. Specifically, it provides capabilities for cleaning data, finding the objects of interest within the data, extracting characteristics representing the objects, identifying key characteristics, and then using these characteristics to find patterns in the data. Using a modular and extensible design for its software architecture, as well as support for a variety of algorithms for a task, it has been possible to use Sapphire for the analysis of problems in several different domains, such as astronomy, physics, remote sensing, and computer simulations of complex phenomena. It can also be applied to problems in national security and commercial applications such as credit card fraud detection and text mining.

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Visualizing the World's Population

High-resolution population distribution data are critical to successfully address important issues ranging from socio-environmental research to public health to homeland security. Commonly available census population data are severely constrained both in space and time and do not capture the population dynamics as functions of space and time. To that end, researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tenn., have developed the LandScan 2004 Global Population Database. LandScan describes 24-hour average population distributions for every 30 arc second (approximately 1 km x 1 km) grid cell covering the world. This database is produced through an innovative, flexible, and dynamically adaptable spatial model that refines the best available census data utilizing remote-sensing-derived earth observation data and geographic information systems (GIS) technology.

At its current spatial resolution, LandScan has 25 times higher resolution than the next best global population database of its kind. As such, it has become the community standard for estimating population at risk. It has already made a significant global impact on our society through disaster response, humanitarian relief, sustainable development, and environmental protection.

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Revolutionizing Language Interoperability

Scientific computing applications typically combine software libraries written in multiple computer languages. For some pairs of languages, like C++ calling C, it is fairly easy to make cross-language function calls and pass data. For other pairs of languages, like C++ and Fortran 95, the approach for interoperability requires application developers to write platform- and compiler-specific "glue code" to translate arguments between languages. To reduce this manual burden, researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Calif., have developed Babel, software that makes function calls and passes scientific data seamlessly and efficiently from one computer language to another.

Babel is designed to deliver portable, high-performance language interoperability on the fastest massively parallel supercomputers. It manages and hides all of the programming complexities of making inter-language function calls between any combination of C, C++, Fortran 77/90/95, Java, and Python, behind a common interface.

Babel's architecture is also general enough to support newer languages. Any supported language can call any other supported language, and from the programmer's point of view, calling between languages is seamless.

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Making FPGAs More Accessible

Reconfigurable logic can accelerate applications, but only flit is usable by the scientists who are developing the applications. Creating designs for reconfigurable logic in hardware description language (HDL) can be difficult and time-consuming. Most application developers have little to no hardware design experience. However, high-level language compilers like Trident, developed by researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory, N.M., ease this burden and allow more people to easily program field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs).

Trident is an open source C compiler for reconfigurable supercomputers that accepts C language input containing floating-point calculations and translates this language into FPGA hardware. It allows computational scientists to explore partitioning their code between software and hardware. They can benefit by trying different optimizations and targeting different floating-point libraries.

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CAD Goes 3-D

The broad adoption of 3-D computer-aided design (3-D CAD) tools has resulted in dramatic improvements in design engineering productivity and the overall quality of new facility designs. There is, however, significant interest in using these same tools for modifications to existing facilities. Unfortunately, many existing facilities were designed and constructed prior to 3-D CAD and recreating the facility in 3-D CAD models would require many man-months of time-consuming and error-prone manual measurement. To address this issue, Fred Persi at Quantapoint, Inc., Pittsburgh, Pa., has developed Quantapoint QuantaCAD, a software technology that works with Quantapoint 3-D laser scanning to enable 3D laser models to be accessed within 3-D CAD tools.

Quantapoint uses 3-D laser scanning to create dimensionally accurate, physically complete, and interactive 3-D models composed of laser data. With QuantaCAD, users can use 3-D CAD tools to extract the greatest value from the "digitized plant" to reduce risks throughout design.

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Advancing Humidity Control

In an effort to enhance the performance of a traditional air conditioning dehumidification system, researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tenn., and TRANE Co., Lexington, Ky., have created the TRANE CDQ system. The system is a drying agent and is ideal for building spaces in which 45 to 60% relative humidity is desired (such as hospitals and schools). This process is accomplished without the need for a separate thermal desiccant regeneration stream as the system transfers water vapor, and its cooling coil does all the dehumidification work in the system. Building owners can now obtain better humidity control while minimizing the associated operating cost. Furthermore, the Trane CDQsystem enables the use of new technology without changing the base systems, thus minimizing the cost and effort of retrofits on the building and required infrastructure. Real-time data for sites that use this system can be seen at

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New Probe Streamlines Inspection

Heat exchangers are essential to the operation of processing and electric power generation plants, and are inspected and maintained during regularly-scheduled outages. Conventional tools used for inspecting heat exchanger tubes, such as ultrasonic and eddy current devices, examine one local area at a time and therefore a scan of the whole tube is required. But because the number of tubes in a heat exchanger can be huge and conventional inspection is slow, only a small fraction of the tubes are inspected, and maintenance decisions are made based on limited sampled inspection results.

To remedy this, the MsS Heat Exchanger Probe, developed by Hegeon Kwun, James Crane, and Sang Y. Kim at Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, Texas, can inspect an entire tube length within 20 to 30 seconds. The probe requires only limited cleaning of the tube where it has been inserted and has no difficulty in inspecting U-bend tubes. Furthermore, a large portion of the tubes--if not all of them--an be examined to identify potential problems, significantly streamlining the inspection process.

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Hot New Alloys

Heat-resistant alloys such as cast austenitic stainless steels are commonly used for process equipment in the chemical, petrochemical, heat-treating, and metals-processing industries. These applications, however, continue to drive performance, durability, and use at higher temperatures, whereas economics tries to force the cost of such alloys lower.

To meet all of these needs, researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tenn., Duraloy Technologies Inc., Scottdale, Pa., and Nucor Sheet Mill Group, Crawfordsville, Ind., have developed TMA 6301 and TMA 4701: New Heat-Resistant Alloys Developed by Computer-Aided Alloy Design.

These new alloys are computationally designed cast austenitic stainless steel compositions with improved high- temperature creep strength and cost equal to or lower than existing competitor alloys. Due to their increased creep strengths, the new alloys can be used at higher temperatures and for longer times without failure, resulting in energy cost savings.

This is the first time that a computer-aided methodology has been used to design new alloys. Due to the more efficient sampling of composition space possible by using this computer-aided methodology, the time required for the development of these alloys was reduced from the typical six to 10 years with conventional methods to about three years.

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Sensor Marks Radical Improvement

Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) remains a popular measurement technique within the plastics, adhesive, chemical, and pharmaceutical industries. Researchers, Urs Niedermann and Thomas Hutter at Mettler-Toledo, GmbH, Canton Zurich, Switzerland, have developed a new Differential Scanning Calorimeter (DSC823e), one that makes use of a new high sensitivity DSC sensor (HSS7).

The HSS7 sensor featured on the DSC823e measures the heat flow between a sample and its immediate surroundings. The sensor itself operates using a unique star pattern of 120 thermocouples in three layers, which improves the overall signal-to-noise ratio of the sensor. The signal from this sensor is so large that the designers were able to decrease the gain at the analog-to-digital converter. This decreased the electronic noise. The sensitivity of this product is such that it will replace many microcalorimeter applications and retain the rapid heating rate (up to 200[degrees] C/min) of a DSC. It can be used in all general purpose DSC measurements such as: melting point, glass transition, oxidative stability, curing reactions, polymorphism, crystallization, and heat capacity.

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Diamonds Are a Scientist's Best Friend

Diamonds have always been considered an extreme material to surpass all other known materials in their physical properties. Despite this, the use of diamond has been limited to gem jewelry at one end of the spectrum and cutting and grinding applications on the other. Due to the high levels of impurities present in mined diamond, optical, and semiconductor applications have been out of reach. To meet the need for high-purity diamond, researchers at Apollo Diamond, Inc., Framingham, Mass., have developed Apollo Diamond, man-made, high-purity, colorless, real single crystal diamond wafers for optical and semiconductor applications and devices. Apollo Diamond uses chemical vapor deposition (CVD) to create their man-made diamonds. The lack of any absorbance bands in the 250- to 800-nm range of the UV/Vis spectrum demonstrates the absence of impurities in these single crystal diamonds. These diamonds can be used in high-power lasers, optical data storage, and simple semiconductor devices such as diodes. Other potential applications include uses in life sciences, nanotechnology, and quantum computing.

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Harnessing the Sun's Power

A seemingly unavoidable tradeoff between cost and power efficiency has, historically, relegated the solar cell to niche markets such as space power, military applications, and relatively low-cost, low-efficiency uses such as off-grid power. All of that has changed with the High-Efficiency Multiband Semiconductor Material for Solar Cells, developed by Wladyslaw Walukiewicz and Kin Yu at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Calif. With its combination of low cost and full-spectrum efficiency, the multiband semiconductor demonstrates that this tradeoff is not inevitable and opens a path forward for the development of photovohaic systems as a major source of electric power.

The new semiconductor material, a highly mismatched alloy (HMA), has multiple, tunable band gaps for use in high-efficiency, single-junction, full-spectrum solar cells. HMA semiconductors are ideally suited for use in a new type of high!y efficient, easy-to-manufacture solar cell, the multiband solar cells (MBSC). An MBSC using an HMA with three bands has a maximum theoretical efficiency of 63%--more than four times greater than the 15% typical of high-quality silicon cells now on the market. Using the band anticrossing theory of HMAs developed by the Berkeley Lab team, MBSCs using a four-band HMA with a maximum theoretical efficiency of 72% can also be realized.

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To Catch a Leak

For the pre-assembly testing of parts that must be leak tight, a leak detector must quickly and reliably detect and locate leaks. Conventional leak detectors fulfill this task with the use of a high-vacuum system. However, Thomas Bohm, Ulrich Dobler, Werner GroBe Bley, and Daniel Wetzig at INFICON GmbH Koln, Cologne, Germany, have developed the Protec P3000, a leak detector that detects helium leaks without a sensitive high-vacuum system and without the need for a mass spectrometer. The Protec P3000 sensor uses Wise Technology to detect helium leaks at atmospheric pressure, foregoing the need for vacuum conditions and turbomolecular pumps. The maintenance-free P3000 sensor enables production lines to continue without costly interruption and is tolerant of variations in operator technique, reducing the potential for missed leaks. It detects leaks at a greater distance from the leak locations compared to conventional systems, and its sniffer tip can be moved faster without missing leaks. In addition, the P3000 comprehensively monitors itself to notify the operator of any problems before a leak can be missed.

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Another Bump in the Road for Soldering

Tin/silver/copper alloys have already been adopted as the primary lead-free technology by most electronics manufacturers. The industry has been limited, however, by the availability of this composition only as screenable paste and solder balls. A new plating technology developed by Rozalia Beica at Rohm and Haas Electronic Materials, LLC, Freeport, N.Y., delivers fine-grained, smooth, solderable reflowed solder bumps with consistent deposit composition. The process, High Speed Tin/Silver/Copper Electroplating Process for Wafer Bumps, is a low-foaming, organic sulfonate electroplating process for the high-speed .deposition of uniform, fine grain, matte tin/silver/copper from a single plating solution.

This technology is applied through a one-step electrodeposition process from a very stable acidic system. The process applicability and control is compatible with the equipment currently existing in fabrication facilities. Besides the cost-effective advantage that comes with an electrodeposition process, additional cost savings are achieved by the significant improvement in throughput of this process compared with the current lead-free production offerings.

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Semiconductor / Vacuum Technologies

ENABLE-ing Nanofab

Growing thin films and etching minute features are fundamental to the fabrication of photovoltaic devices and LEDs. Most of the fabrication processes used involve overcoming some kind of energy-activation barrier to achieve the desired materials modification. Such barriers require that energy, usually heat, be input into the system to initiate the requisite physical or chemical processes.

By subjecting a confined volume of oxygen or nitrogen gas to a powerful laser, ENABLE: Energetic Neutral Atom Beam Lithography/Epitaxy, developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory, N.M., by Mark Hoffbauer, Alexander Mueller, and Elshan Akhadov, creates a plasma from which high-kinetic-energy neutral atoms are then extracted and collimated. The resulting collimated beam is then used to directly activate surface chemical reactions, forming the basis of a specialized tool for both etching and growing thin film materials at the nanoscale.

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Supporting EUV

The semiconductor industry continues to search for next-generation lithography (NGL) techniques equipped to print features with dimensions of 32 nm and smaller. A leading NGL candidate is extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography which uses light of 13.5 nm wavelength, less than half than that of the features to be printed at 32 nm. Indeed, EUV lithography is projected to be capable of printing features below 16 nm which would cover the needs of the industry through 2020.

In order to speed EUV development, researchers need a light source that will produce reliable, high power EUV light. The EQ-10 Series EUV Light Source, developed by Donald Smith, Paul Blackborow, Matt Besen, and Stephen Horne at Energetiq Technology, Inc., Woburn, Mass., is just such a system. The EQ-10 is an electrodeless Z-Pinch EUV light source producing 10 W of power at 13.5nm.

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Crystal Quartz Resonates on Silicon

For more than 40 years, researchers have built tiny resonating elements on silicon, but have never met the stringent performance and cost requirements to replace crystal quartz. Researchers at SiTime Corp., Sunnyvale, Calif., have now solved these shortcomings with their Silicon Mechanical Resonator, SIT8002, SiT1564, and SiT11xx. SiTime builds these elements below the surface of the silicon wafer, encapsulating them under silicon where they are protected from the environment and allowing the silicon chip to be packaged inexpensively, just like any other silicon chip.

SiTime has exploited this process in a modern 200 mm silicon wafer format, allowing the use of the most modern integrated circuit technologies. The technology is also integrated with modern complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) circuits to easily interface with the rest of the circuits in the product. Modern, high volume packaging technologies allow the silicon resonator to be handled just like any other silicon component.

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2006 R&D 100 Judging Panel

* Hakan Altan, Institute for Ultrafast Spectroscopy and Lasers, City College N.Y.

* Robert Bruce, GE Aircraft Engines

* Robert Classon, Shimadzu Scientific Instruments

* Stuart Cram, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

* Phil Danielson, The Vacuum Lab

* Charles "Skip" Derra, Arizona State Univ.

* Mark Dietz, Argonne National Lab

* Michael Duhr, Columbia University.-Chicago

* Kenneth Freese, Los Alamos National Laboratory

* Matthew Goodman, Telcordia Technologies

* Shelley Gretlein, National Instruments

* Brian Hooker, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

* Stephen Howard, U.S. Army Research Laboratory

* John Joyce, Virginia Div. of Consolidated Laboratory Services

* Samuel Mao, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

* Sid Marshall, Glimmerglass

* Charles Masi, Reed Business Information

* Gary Meyer, ProAnalytics LLC

* Ronald Musket, Musket Consulting

* Samuel Phillips, Industry Consultant

* Gautam Pillay, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

* John Rajan, Consultant

* Emmett Redd, Missouri State Univ.

* Jovica Riznic, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

* Amara Rozgus, Hanley-Wood Publishing

* Ilene Semiatin, Edge Communications

* Kamran Shah, National Instruments

* Norman Sheppard, MicroCHIPS, Inc.

* Bruce Smackey, Mack Trucks, Inc.

* S. K. Sundaram, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

* John Tyrell, Univ. of North Carolina

* Dirk Vanderloop, California State University

* Steven Visuri, Prodesse

* Leroy Whinnery, Sandia National Laboratories
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Title Annotation:The 44th Annual Awards
Publication:R & D
Article Type:Cover story
Date:Sep 1, 2006
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