DOE-Funded Research Projects Win 46 R&D 100 Awards for 2009

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced today that Energy Department-funded researchers have won 46 of the 100 awards given out this year by R&D Magazine for the most outstanding technology developments with promising commercial potential.  The coveted awards are presented annually in recognition of exceptional new products, processes, materials or software developed throughout the world and introduced into the market the previous year.

“The Department of Energy's national laboratories are incubators of innovation, and I'm proud they are being recognized once again for their remarkable work,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu.  ”The cutting-edge research and development being done in our national labs is vital to maintaining America’s competitive edge, increasing our nation’s energy security, and protecting our environment.  I want to thank this year's winners for their work and congratulate them on this award.”

These awards highlight some of the successes made by the DOE national laboratories in technology transfer, moving forward basic research results into commercial products.

This year, scientists and engineers from 12 of the 17 DOE National Laboratories as well as the Nevada Test Site received awards.  Since 1962, when R&D Magazine’s annual competition began, DOE has been the recipient of over 800 R&D 100 awards in areas such as energy, national security and basic scientific applications. 

R&D 100 awards are selected by an independent panel of judges based on the technical significance, uniqueness and usefulness of projects and technologies from across industry, government and academia.  The complete list of R&D 100 awards is available online at  

A list of DOE’s winning sites, technologies and corresponding press releases is below:

Ames Laboratory (Ames, IA)

  • Virtual Engineering Process Simulator Interface – enables process and energy industries engineers to design next-generation plants with high efficiencies and near-zero emissions by collaboratively analyzing process simulations with engineering data. (Jointly with DOE ’s National Energy Technology Laboratory and Research Engineering International)

Argonne National Laboratory (Argonne, Ill.)

  • High Performance Software for Engineering and Science – allows engineers and scientists to perform large-scale numerical simulations of physical phenomena rapidly and efficiently. The ability to perform simulations allows corporations and governmental agencies to replace costly and dangerous experiments and prototypes. Simulations have led to many new products as well as improvements in existing products. (Jointly with University of Texas at Austin, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Illinois Institute of Technology)
  • Super Hard and Slick Coating (SSC) - The coating can improve the performance of all kinds of moving mechanical systems, including engines. Friction, wear and lubrication strongly affect the energy efficiency, durability, and environmental compatibility of such systems. The amount of emissions produced by these engines is also strongly related to their fuel economy.  SSC with its self-lubricating and low-friction nature will help to increase the fuel economy of future engines. (Jointly with Istanbul Technical University, Galleon International Co. and Hauzer Technocoating)
  • The Hard X-ray Nanoprobe - A new device provides X-ray imaging and analysis at a spatial resolution previously not available in the hard X-ray range. The system also provides qualitative new characterization capabilities by combining full field transmission imaging with scanning probe capabilities. This technology will significantly improve the ability of medical scientists and nanoscientists to study use of nanocomposites in tissues, cells and subscellular organelles, which helps develop new medical imaging techniques and therapies. (Jointly with Xradia Inc)
  • Argonne/Envia Systems Lithium-ion Battery Technology - The highest energy and cycle life of all lithium–ion systems available today for the plug–in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) and electric vehicle markets, which will help facilitate meeting the stringent U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium requirements for powering 40–mile–range PHEVs. (Jointly with Envia Systems)
  • The Artificial Retina Project – see Lawrence Livermore National Lab

Brookhaven National Laboratory (Upton, N.Y.)

  • Compact Gamma Camera – This high-resolution nuclear medical probe can pinpoint the locale of cancer tissue in the prostate gland in detail at an early stage. Diagnosis is easier using the gamma camera, rather than conventional ultrasound imaging, because the camera can more easily detect the small cancerous tissues and distinguish between benign and cancerous tumors. The new technology also combines the best aspects of conventional nuclear imaging detectors while minimizing their weaknesses, delivering high performance at competitive cost. (Jointly with Toronto-based Hybridyne Imaging Technologies Inc.)

Idaho National Laboratory (Idaho Falls, ID)

  • Rfinity –An innovation that offers a low-cost, plug-n-play option that enables virtually any wireless telecommunications device to safely store sensitive personal information and perform secure transactions. The technology has been licensed to RFinity of Idaho Falls.
  • Water Sample Concentrator – Automated portable device that concentrates and packages a sample of suspected contaminated water for safe, efficient transport to a qualified analytical laboratory. This technology will help safeguard against pathogen contamination or chemical and biological attacks on water supplies. The technology has been licensed to Teledyne Isco, Inc. of Lincoln, Neb. (Jointly with the Environmental Protection Agency)
  • Precision Nanoparticles –A revolutionary technology that efficiently produces nanoparticles in uniform and prescribed sizes (1-100 nanometers) using supercritical fluids. The technology has been licensed to Precision Nanoparticles, Inc., of Seattle, Wash.  (Jointly with Idaho State University)

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley, Calif.)

  • EMGeo ElectroMagnetic Geological Mapper — The first commercially available technology for 3-D geophysical imaging of industrial-sized electromagnetic data. This technology offers oceanic subsurface mapping at a scale and resolution previously unavailable to find sources of alternative energy and in guiding environmental remediation. It will allow scientists to determine if an energy source exists before drilling for it, which could save millions of dollars in drilling costs, and help discover billions of dollars in oil and gas.
  • Nanocrystal Solar Cells — This technology perform the same function as conventional solar cells—turning sunlight into electricity—but at one-fifth the cost or less. Because of this dramatic cost savings, the technology has the potential to be the first photovoltaic cell to achieve widespread use in the energy market. (Jointly with Solexant)
  • NEXUS® DLC-X Coating System with Pulsed Filtered Cathodic Arc Technology — a system that promises more computer memory at less cost by depositing thin films of diamond-like carbon required by next-generation computer hard-disk heads. (Jointly with Veeco Instruments, Inc.)
  • TEAM Electron Microscope Stage — The TEAM Stage will make one of the world’s most powerful electron microscopes even better by enabling atomic-scale imaging in 3-D. It holds and positions samples inside electron microscopes with unprecedented stability, position-control accuracy and range of motion. (Jointly with Attocube Systems, FEI Company and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (Livermore, Calif.)

  • GeMini - a portable gamma-ray spectrometer based on germanium technology. The instrument is so small that it fits in the palm of a hand, and this spectrometer is outfitted with an innovative low-powered, miniature cooling mechanism. GeMini was launched on NASA's Mercury MESSENGER spacecraft and is now taking the first-ever gamma-ray data of the planet Mercury. GeMini also can be used to help prevent terrorists from smuggling nuclear materials into the country.
  • The Land Mine Locator is a humanitarian aerial land mine detection system designed to lower the time and cost of demining operations, and vastly improve the safety to personnel and equipment. These technologies are combined with Hystar, a revolutionary aerial vehicle with unique flight capabilities that permit remote, reusable and safe operation for sensor platforms. (Jointly with First Alliance Technologies LLC of San Ramon, Calif. and Hystar Aerospace Corp. of Vancouver, Canada)
  • Artificial Retina - With this device, bio-electronic integrated circuits transform digital images from a camera mounted on a pair of glasses into electric signals in the eye that the brain uses to create a visual image. In clinical trials, 30 patients with vision loss were able to successfully identify objects, navigate in their environment, and detect movement using the “artificial retina.” The implant is intended eventually to enable patients to read large print and recognize faces. (This multi-team project was jointly submitted by Argonne National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, University of Southern California (Doheny Eye Institute), California Institute of Technology, North Carolina State University, the University of California at Santa Cruz and Second Sight® Medical Products LLC.)
  • FemtoScope – This time microscope dramatically improves the performance of traditional recording devices in the same way a high-performance lens improves a camera's output. When combined with an optical streak camera, the system achieves a 20-fold increase in temporal resolution simultaneous with a 30-fold improvement in dynamic range for an overall improvement of 600 times compared to the performance of the streak camera alone. This breakthrough offers the potential to yield important insights into understanding the process of fusion energy burn.
  • Spectral Sentry - is an advanced technology developed to protect critical laser systems from pulses that contain incorrect bandwidth for amplification. The device inspects each individual laser pulse, which is traveling at the speed of light, and then determines if the pulse meets the bandwidth requirements to avoid self-destruction during amplification. Spectral Sentry can stop the speed-of-light pulse it just measured from further amplification, avoiding potential laser damage.
  • ROSE – This technology radically changes the accessibility of compiler technologies, allowing access to average software developers and scientists. ROSE enables users to build their own tools, including defect detection tools to uncover undetected bugs, code optimization tools to maximize program performance and program transformation tools that allow users to easily develop programs for today's fast changing hardware platforms.
  • Precision Robotics Assembling Machine – This machine manufactures small and complex laser-driven fusion ignition targets for the world's largest and most energetic laser, the National Ignition Facility. The machine can manipulate millimeter-scale components with 100-nanometer precision in an operating arena the size of a sugar cube, and has a work volume the size of a shoe box. 
  • Laser Beam Centering and Pointing System – This system does the work of two sensors by using a special dual-imaging lens, which acts like a bifocal, to capture both images simultaneously and combine them into one. Because the system combines two alignment sensors into one, it cuts the cost of alignment components in half and saves space. It has no moving parts and provides huge advantages in stability and repeatability over conventional alignment systems.

Los Alamos National Laboratory (Los Alamos, N.M.)

  • MagViz – MagViz is the first product based on a new form of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)—a form that uses ultralow magnetic fields. MagViz noninvasively scans containers of liquids and gels, detects explosive liquids in less than a minute, and may make current airline liquid restrictions obsolete.  
  • TerraOps Software Radio – This software moves the concept of software-defined radio into space, where it can be used to extend dramatically the lifetimes of electronic systems aboard satellites and in space payloads. The components that make up the TeraOps Software Radio are compact, lightweight, cost-effective and adapted from commercial off-the-shelf products. Los Alamos National Laboratory and Space Instrumentation Systems developed this technology.
  • SIMTECHE Carbon Dioxide Capture Process – This process captures and compresses the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide emitted by fossil fuel power plants and other industrial operations.  The process is less energy and capital intensive than the technologies currently in use.  Los Alamos and SIMTECHE developed this technology.
  • Lasonix – A new approach for fabricating insulators, semiconductors, and metallic conductors to form standard semiconductor microcircuits, metallic connections and pathways, and vertically integrated circuits.
  • The Artificial Retina Project – see Lawrence Livermore National Lab

National Energy Technology Laboratory (Pittsburgh, Pa. and Morgantown, WV)

  • SEQURETM Tracer Technology - uses perfluorocarbon tracers for ultra-sensitive detection of carbon dioxide leakage from geologic storage reservoirs.
  • Clay-Liquid Carbon Dioxide Removal Sorbent - a low-cost, solid-state sorbent designed to remove CO2 from flue gas and other gas streams. (Jointly with Sud-Chemie, Louisville, KY)
  • Thief Process for the Removal of Mercury from Flue Gas - Partially burned coal is extracted from a pulverized coal-fired combustor using a suction pipe, or “thief,” and injected into the downstream flue gas to absorb mercury. (Jointly with Nalco-Mobotec, Orinda, CA)
  • Virtual Engineering Process Simulator Interface (VE-PSI) – jointly with Ames National Laboratory. See their listing)

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (Golden, Colo.)

  • Ultra-Accelerated Weathering System – is a multifaceted, ultraviolet solar concentrator used to speed up the exposure of coatings, paints and other materials to determine their durability and resistance to weathering. Industry applications include coatings used for solar panels as well as paints or finishes used on homes, cars or even bridges.  The UAWS provides test results 12 times faster than other accelerated weathering systems and can replicate years of sun damage in just a few weeks. (Jointly with Atlas Material Testing Technology and the Institute of Laser Optical Technology) 
  • Power Plain UX Microbattery – is a safe, rechargeable, deep-cycle, thin-film lithium microbattery.  Ideal applications include remote wireless sensors, smart homes, smart cars and medical sensing devices. Unlike traditional batteries, the PowerPlane UX Microbattery has a long life cycle even if it is frequently and fully discharged.  (Jointly with Planar Energy Devices)
  • SkyTrough™ Parabolic Trough Solar Concentrating Collector – uses a lightweight and weatherproof reflector to create a low cost system for utility-sized power generation.  This innovation, coupled with improvements to items like the hydraulic-based rotational system and the sun-tracking controller, enables SkyTrough™ to reduce installed cost by 35 percent. (Jointly with SkyFuel, Inc.)

Nevada Test Site (Las Vegas, Nev.)

  • High-Resolution UV Holography Lens - The lens will help scientists measure the size and velocity of particles ejected off a metal after it is hit by a shock wave. The physics of these particles will be used to develop a theoretical model for nonnuclear experiments that safely simulate atomic experiments. It can also be used with any x-ray imaging application to study how a material’s construction, purity, phase, and surface treatment affect a material’s strength under extreme stress. This technology was developed by National Security Technologies, the management and operating contractor for the test site.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (Oak Ridge, Tenn.)

  • Alumina-forming Austenitic - stainless steels that boasts an increased upper-temperature oxidation, or corrosion limit that is 100 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit higher than that of conventional stainless steels. These new alloys deliver this superior oxidation resistance with high-temperature strengths approaching that of far more expensive nickel-based alloys without sacrificing the typical lower cost, formability and weldability of conventional stainless steels. These new alloys have applications ranging from gas turbines and power plants to chemical and petrochemical processing equipment.
  • The Artificial Retina Project – see Lawrence Livermore National Lab
  • Fire-resistive phase change material - the first-ever organic fire-resistive material when incorporated into conventional insulation can improve the heating and cooling efficiency in buildings. The new materials, composed of fatty-acid esters from sustainable plant and animal fats and blended with cellulose insulation, are the first phase change materials to fulfill all requirements in the U.S. flammability tests. The PCM adds thermal mass to buildings, thus generating heating and cooling energy savings of up to 25 percent in residential buildings. (Jointly with Microtek Laboratories and Advanced Fiber Technology)
  • Mass-Independent Kinetic-Energy-Reducing Inlet System for Mass Spectrometers - permits high-resolution mass analysis of large, intact biological molecules without having to break them apart. With this spectrometer, the large biomolecular ions are captured in a trapping field while air is pumped away. Conventional spectrometers pump most of the ions away with the air, making them less sensitive. This mass spectrometer delivers much higher resolution in the high mass range compared to conventional spectrometers. For specific use in the medical field, the mass spectrometer can be developed to rapidly image a tumor and define the boundaries so the tumor can be most effectively treated.
  • Methodology for Estimating the Life of Power Line Conductor-Connector Systems Operating at High Temperatures (MELCOT) - predicts the service life of conductor-connector systems. The splices connecting the conductor lines are literally the weak links in power transmission systems. With this new method of investigating performance and integrity of the power line systems, researchers can develop more durable and reliable systems for the electric power grid. Power grid operators can maintain power flow and prevent potential grid failures, and effectively reroute power distribution during emergency or natural disasters. (Jointly with Electric Power Research Institute, Tennessee Valley Authority and PBS&J)
  • PulseForge 3100 - uses rapid pulses of light for high-speed drying, curing, sintering or annealing high temperature materials on plastic and paper, enabling inexpensive and flexible electronics. With the PulseForge 3100, high intensity flashlamps briefly heat inks and films to controlled high temperatures. The PulseForge and Pulse Thermal Processing systems provide a thousand-fold increase in the energy flux that is available to the surface of the processed part - cutting processing times to fractions of a second. (Jointly with NovaCentrix)
  • Superconducting "Wires" by Epitaxial Growth on SSIFFS - flexible, single-crystal, high-temperature cables that enable high-performance advantages for electric power grid applications. These cables are different because they are round, rather than flat like conventional wires, which lowers heat loss and eliminates energy loss, making longer transmission lengths possible. Superconducting wires can carry five times more power than copper cables and are capable of long-distance power transmission, interconnecting entire continents and providing local energy storage.
  • Thermomagnetic Processing Technology - enhances materials performance with 85 percent higher stretch capability strength, enabling lighter weight designs. The technology uses superconducting magnets to cut down on energy use in the typical heat treat processing. High magnetic fields processing reduces residual stress (post-heat treating stress) and eliminates material phases, thus eliminating specialized thermal processing steps. This technology could revolutionize the U.S. heat-treating industry with reduced energy and processing costs. (Jointly with Eaton Corp., American Magnetics, Inc. and AJAX-TOCCO Magnethermic Corp.)

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (Richland, Wash.)

  • The Perpetua Power Puck™ - harvests energy from its surrounding environment with the capability for replacing outright conventional chemical batteries. The Power Puck is a renewable energy source that has no moving parts, which makes it more efficient and cost-effective than other technologies. The technology can save time and money in situations where information needs to be collected and power sources need to be maintained at remote sites, such as monitoring the structural integrity of dams, bridges and pipelines. The technology has been licensed to Perpetua Power Source Technologies, in Corvallis, OR.  (Jointly with Perpetua)
  • Ultrasensitive ESI-MS Source & Interface - integrates four technologies to provide greater sensitivity and precise measurements from mass spectrometry instrumentation  while requiring smaller samples. Mass spectrometry instrumentation is commonly used for environmental and health analyses, as well as by industry for pharmaceutical and petrochemical product development.

Sandia National Laboratories (Albuquerque, N.M.)

  • High-temperature Silicon Carbide Power Module - This module converts electrical energy from one form to another and reduces the size and volume of power electronic systems. Applications are being examined for hybrid and electric vehicles, renewable energy interfaces, and aircraft.
  • Ultra-Low-Power Silicon Microphotonic Communications Platform – The ultra-small components enable optical data transmission and routing on a silicon platform at nanosecond switching speeds with up to 100-times less power consumption and 100 times the bandwidth density compared to traditional electronic approaches.
  • Catamount N-Way (CNW) Lightweight Kernel - This technology leverages hardware capabilities of multicore processors to deliver significant improvements in data access performance for parallel computing applications. CNW provides enhanced data access capabilities beyond other equivalent operating systems by employing a new technique that targets memory bandwidth.
  • NanoCoral™ Dendritic Platinum Nanostructures - An innovative nanotechnology for producing platinum catalysts that offers unique control over the shape, size, porosity, composition, stability, and other functional properties of platinum nanostructures compared with those achieved by existing methods.
  • Sandia’s Hyperspectral Confocal Fluorescence Microscope System - This system rapidly finds all emitting fluorescence species of an image, determining their relative concentrations without any a priori information. This patent-pending technology has been combined with Sandia’s proprietary algorithms to form a complete system for the extraction of quantitative image information.
  • The Artificial Retina Project – see Lawrence Livermore National Lab

The U.S. Department of Energy’s 17 world-class National Laboratories are working to make scientific breakthroughs to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time, including energy and environment, national security and American competitiveness.  For more information about DOE-supported technologies and the R&D 100 awards, visit: R&D 100 Awards.