By Andy Evangelista
Fifteen inventions from the three U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories managed by the University of California are recognized by R&D Magazine as among the 100 top technology-driven products to reach the marketplace in the past year.
"I want to congratulate all of this year's winners on their awards and to thank them for their work," Energy Secretary Steven Chu said. "The large number of winners from the Department of Energy's national labs every year is a clear sign that our labs are doing some of the most innovative research in the world. This work benefits us all by enhancing America's competitiveness, ensuring our security, providing new energy solutions, and expanding the frontiers of our knowledge. Our national labs are truly national treasures, and it is wonderful to see their work recognized once again."
With this year's award winners, the Lawrence Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos national laboratories have captured a total of 308 of the prestigious R&D 100 awards over the years.
The 2010 award-winning innovations from the three laboratories are:
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
- Home energy saver: A free online Web tool identifies a range of energy-saving upgrades specific to each user's home construction and geographic location.
- Rough silicon nanowires for waste heat utilization: A thermoelectric material recovers waste heat from automobiles, airplanes, power plants and other sources to offset energy use.
- Chemicals on demand: Laser-triggered microcapsules provide controlled, remote delivery of materials such as cancer therapeutics or surgical glue for hip replacements, or industrial products such as self-repairing electronics and self-healing paint.
- Photoemission studies: A system uses X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy to analyze liquid/gas and solid/gas interactions at ambient pressures should accelerate the development of more efficient catalysts, improved fuel cells and solar cells, and a greater understanding of the effect of atmospheric pollutants on ozone.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
- Helping homeland security: A new material for use in radiation detectors enables high-resolution gamma-ray spectroscopy to identify nuclear materials for homeland security and other important applications.
- Improved water purification: A technology uses nanotube membranes to serve as a filtration tool for separating salt and other ionic compounds from seawater or brackish water and for reclaiming waste water for crop irrigation and manufacturing processes.
- Seeing the retina at the cellular level: A new clinical instrument to enable doctors to obtain early diagnoses and follow retinal diseases, as well as track the progress of genetic therapies that reverse such diseases.
- Detecting nuclear materials: A novel software system rapidly and accurately distinguishes nuclear materials, such as plutonium and uranium, from other radioactive substances for homeland security uses.
- Capturing images of a tiny star: A new diagnostic system acquires sequential images of X-rays or optical light in a trillionth of a second or faster. It will enable new studies to advance the scientific understanding of stars as well as stockpile stewardship.
- Measuring a photon beam: Tunable, high-power sources of photons, and these new machines offer significant promise for scientific and medical breakthroughs by capturing molecules and atoms in motion.
Los Alamos National Laboratory
- A new synthesis method delivers more explosive power with less material. It reduces the possibility of accidental detonation and the synthesis method is environmentally friendly.
- Super slow-mo science movies allow scientists to see, for example, how explosives might ignite and how blast pressure waves move and grow.
- A cheaper, cleaner and more efficient technology makes superconductor wire.
- A new nanotechnology allows the manufacture of high-tech wires and cables that conduct electricity more easily than any other metal alloy.
- An ultrasonic biofuel harvester uses extremely high frequency sound waves to harvest and extract valuable oils and proteins from algae.
Since 1963, the R&D 100 Awards have identified revolutionary technologies newly introduced to the market. Many of these have become household names, helping shape everyday life for many Americans. These include the flashcube (1965), the automated teller machine (1973), the halogen lamp (1974), the fax machine (1975), the liquid crystal display (1980), the Kodak Photo CD (1991), the Nicoderm anti-smoking patch (1992), Taxol anticancer drug (1993), lab on a chip (1996) and HDTV (1998).
Winners of the R&D 100 Awards are selected by an independent judging panel and the editors of R&D Magazine.