ORNL Researchers Win Eight R+D 100 Awards

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have been honored with eight awards in the annual R+D 100 Awards by R+D Magazine. Sometimes referred to as the "Academy Awards of Science," the magazine selected winners for development of "one of the 100 most technologically significant new products of 2010."

This year's eight awards bring to 156 the total number of R&D 100 awards won by ORNL scientists.

"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."

"Winning eight of these prestigious awards is a testimony to the talent and creativity of a remarkable staff. They do a tremendous job of delivering our mission of scientific discovery and innovation," said ORNL Director Thom Mason.

ORNL researchers were recognized for the following eight inventions:

Telemedical Retinal Image Analysis and Diagnosis, or TRIAD, developed and jointly submitted by ORNL, Automated Medical Diagnostics and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. The ORNL team included Kenneth Tobin, Thomas Karnowski, Luca Giancardo, Deniz Aykac and Priya Govindasamy. The team from UTHSC consisted of Edward Chaum and Yaqin Lee.

The TRIAD technology is a Web-based telemedical diagnostic system designed to conduct automated eye screenings of large patient populations for blinding diseases such as diabetic retinopathy in a primary health care setting. The real-time low-cost screening provided by TRIAD can help primary care providers offer a more efficient and economical retina screening service to prevent blindness in diabetic patients. This diagnostic tool will allow far more people to undergo screening, especially the indigent and those in areas that are medically underserved. Research funding was provided by the ORNL Laboratory Directed Research and Development program, the Plough Foundation, Research to Prevent Blindness, the U.S. Health Resource Services Administration and a National Institutes of Health - National Eye Institute grant.

Liquid Microjunction Surface Sampling Probe for Mass Spectrometry, developed and submitted by Gary Van Berkel and Vilmos Kertesz of ORNL's Chemical Sciences Division and Michael Ford of NextGen Services.

The ambient surface sampling system for mass spectrometry uses a sampling probe for quick, efficient liquid extraction of analytes directly from surfaces. The technology's ability to analyze materials outside a vacuum and under real-world conditions demonstrates a clear improvement over technologies limited to surface sampling within a vacuum. The product's simplicity, speed and cost effectiveness allow for a range of uses within the biological sciences, including applications in pharmaceutical research and drug discovery. Research was funded by the ORNL Laboratory Directed Research and Development program, DOE's Office of Science, a CRADA with MDS Sciex, UT-Battelle's Privately Funded Technology Transfer Program and ORNL royalty maturation funding.

Sulfur-Carbon Nanocomposite Cathode Material and Additives for Lithium-Sulfur Batteries, developed and submitted by ORNL's Chengdu Liang from the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, and Nancy Dudney and Jane Howe of ORNL's Materials Science and Technology Division.

The technology offers a more functional sulfur-carbon nanocomposite cathode and halide additives to the electrolyte in order to solve problems inherent in existing lithium-ion battery technology. The lithium-sulfur battery system could improve the energy density of the current technology by a factor of five or more. By enabling a more reliable, safer and longer lasting battery system, this invention has the potential to aid in the harnessing, storage and use of electricity from renewable energy sources. The project was funded by ORNL seed money and DOE's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Vehicle Technology program.

Ultrasensitive Nanomechanical Transducers Based on Nonlinear Resonance, developed and jointly submitted by Nickolay Lavrik from the ORNL Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences and Panos Datskos of ORNL Measurement Science and Systems Engineering Division.

The technology, based on nonlinear nanomechanical resonators, enables sensitive linear detection of force or mass that can be used in a number of important applications, including chemical and biological detection, inertial navigation and thermal imaging. It can determine the presence of extremely low levels (femtogram quantities) of chemicals in a gas or liquid with a sensitivity that is at least 1,000 times better than other comparable mass-sensitive transducers in the market. The new method used in the nonlinear resonator transducers can provide real-time monitoring in a cost-effective manner and can lower detection thresholds in both gas and liquid environments without increasing the cost and complexity of the tool. Research funding was provided through ORNL seed money as part of the Laboratory Directed Research and Development program.

Strontium Iodide Scintillator for Gamma Ray Spectroscopy, submitted by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and developed in conjunction with ORNL, Fisk University, Radiation Monitoring Devices Inc. and the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Domestic Nuclear Detection Office. ORNL's participants included Lynn Boatner, Joanne Ramey and James Kolopus.

The technology allows for the efficient and precise detection of illicit sources of uranium, plutonium and other radioactive materials, which can play a critical role in protecting the country from nuclear and radiological threats. Europium-doped strontium iodide enables the highest-resolution gamma-ray spectroscopy for a scintillator detector to identify radionuclides. This technology's superior scintillator energy resolution and its cost-effective production make it valuable for a number of homeland security and other important applications. Research was funded through the DHS' Domestic Nuclear Detection Office.

Mode-Synthesizing Atomic Force Microscope, or MSAFM, developed and submitted by Ali Passian, Thomas Thundat and Laurene Tetard from ORNL's Bioscences Division.

MSAFM is a novel measurement system for noninvasive high-resolution surface and subsurface characterization and analysis of materials at the nanoscale. This technology can obtain a wealth of material information from both the surface and the subsurface domain, opening unlimited opportunities in nanoscience in a variety of endeavors, including human health, environmental studies, toxicology, nanofabrication, cell mechanics and energy research. Research was sponsored by ORNL's BioEnergy Science Center, a DOE BioEnergy Research Center supported by DOE's Office of Science.

High-Performance, High-Tc Superconducting Wires Enabled via Self-assembly of Non-superconducting Columnar Defects, developed and jointly submitted by SuperPower Inc., University of Houston including Venkat Selvamanickam, the University of Tennessee, and ORNL researchers Amit Goyal, Sung-hun Wee, Eliot Specht, Yanfei Gao, Karren More, Claudia Cantoni, Keith Leonard, Malcolm Stocks, Tolga Aytug, Mariappan Paranthaman, David Christen, Jim Thompson and Dominic Lee. Further assistance was provided by Chonbuk National University.

The 3-D self-assembly process enables the fabrication of ultra-high-performance superconducting wires. The technology is designed to create non-superconducting nanoscale columnar defects with nanoscale spacing within high-temperature superconducting wires. These defects are desirable because they can improve the performance of high-temperature superconductors by enabling large currents to flow through the materials in the presence of high applied magnetic fields. The need for high-temperature superconductors in the electric power, medical, transportation, industrial and military sectors demonstrates this product's widespread commercial viability and usefulness. The research was funded through DOE's Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability and ORNL's Laboratory Directed Research and Development program.

Ztherm Modulated Thermal Analysis, developed and jointly submitted by Asylum Research Company and an ORNL research team consisting of Maxim Nikiforov, Sergei Kalinin and Stephen Jesse.

The technology provides a tool for failure analysis of devices such as electrical conductors or semi-conductors in flexible electronic devices and polymer photovoltaic devices, in which polymers play a key role. Ztherm Modulated Thermal Analysis offers highly localized heating with sensitivity to sub-zeptoliter material property change with vast improvements over other commercial systems. Ztherm is a powerful method for characterizing the mechanical properties of polymers as a function of temperature with the highest spatial resolution available today. A portion of this research was conducted at ORNL's Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, sponsored by the DOE Office of Science.


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