9 Los Alamos projects win R&D 100 Awards

'Oscars of Invention' honor the best innovations of the past year

August 24, 2022

2022-08-24 Opt
Researchers Andrea Schmidt and John Singleton with a novel type of broadband antenna that “slings” tightly focused wave packets toward a target location, providing better coverage, efficiency, bandwidth and security than traditional antennas or phased arrays.

Nine Los Alamos National Laboratory technologies won 2022 R&D 100 Awards and five inventions scored Special Recognition awards, including a gold medal in the Green Technology category, a silver medal for Battling COVID-19, and bronze medals for Market Disruptor – Products, Market Disruptor – Services, and Corporate Social Responsibility.

“These R&D 100 Awards reflect the innovative capabilities of the Los Alamos National Laboratory workforce,” said Laboratory Director Thom Mason. “Advances such as these help both the U.S. and global economies, improve public safety and expand our computing capabilities. Congratulations to the staff members and collaborators who worked to bring these projects to fruition.”

The winners are:

“The Los Alamos scientists and engineers who have been honored this year, along with their collaborators in industry, academia, and other national labs, are once again leading the way in groundbreaking innovations in U.S. technology,” said John Sarrao, deputy Laboratory director for Science, Technology, and Engineering. “As these awards show, our national security work continues to provide the nation with advances across all areas of research and technology, benefiting our nation and the global community. I congratulate our winners on their expertise, insights, creativity and dedication."

The R&D 100 Awards

The prestigious “Oscars of Invention” honor the latest and best innovations and identify the top technology products of the past year. The R&D 100 Awards span industry, academia and government-sponsored research organizations.

Since 1978 Los Alamos has won more than 187 of the prestigious R&D 100 Awards. The Laboratory’s discoveries, developments, advancements and inventions make the world a better and safer place, bolster national security and enhance national competitiveness.

See all of the 2022 R&D 100 Awards here. Read more about the Laboratory’s past R&D 100 Awards.

Additively Manufactured Tamper Evident Container

The container is an electro/optical-mechanical system that secures high value items from disclosure, theft, tampering, and espionage. The technology uses additive-manufacturing techniques for concurrent creation of a container and arbitrarily complex-shaped 3-D tamper-sensitive features within its walls and lid. Encrypted boards stored inside permanently record the complete security history of the protected items.

John Bernardin, Alessandro Cattaneo, Jack Gioia, Alexandria Marchi and David Mascarenas led the team of Graham Arinder, Aaron Juntunen, Ryan Maki, Peter Meyerhofer and Alexander Rose.

ALArM: Acoustic Large Area Monitoring

The highly scalable safety system quickly detects damage and defects in large structures in the oil and gas industries and civil infrastructure. Distributed acoustic sensors and integrated software noninvasively monitor structures, regardless of size, complexity, or access limitations. This cost-effective solution can extend the life of large capital investments and protect natural resources and the environment.

Los Alamos led the joint entry with Chevron U.S.A. and Evident-Scientific/Olympus. Alp Findikoglu directed the Los Alamos team, including Taeho Ju.

In addition to the R&D 100 Award, ALArM won the Bronze Medal Special Recognition Award for Market Disruptor – Products, which highlights any product from any category that has changed the game in any industry.

ASSESS: Acoustic Steady-State Excitation Spatial Spectroscopy

The full-structure, three-dimensional (3D) nondestructive evaluation tool rapidly identifies subtle, hidden material defects, such as corrosion, cracking, and delamination, which can undermine structural integrity. ASSESS can inspect metals, plastics, composites, and additively manufactured components. The integrated field-deployable instrument leverages continuous ultrasonic excitation and laser Doppler vibrometry to perform inspections at stand-off distances.

The Los Alamos team consisted of Ian Cummings, Joshua Eckels, Peter Fickenwirth, Eric Flynn, Erica Jacobson, Matthew Luceadams, Alison Root and Adam Wachtor.

BioManIAC: Bioplastics Manufacturing with Intelligent Adaptive Control

The technology revolutionizes the process of polymer design and optimization for bioplastics production of biodegradable material. The software uses machine-learning models and polymer informatics to identify and optimize new biopolymer chemistries and physical properties. The technology screens millions of possible polymer combinations to save significant time and resources compared to trial-and-error of traditional R&D.

Joseph Dumont led the Los Alamos team of Carl Iverson, Babetta Marrone and Ghanshyam Pilania.

BioMANIAC also won also won the Bronze Medal Special Recognition Award for Market Disruptor – Services, which highlights any service from any category as one that forever changed the R&D industry or a particular vertical within the industry.

EpiGrid: user-friendly software tool for epidemiological decision making

The nimble and user-friendly software package provides tools for analytical epidemiological decision support. It fully accounts for geographical factors and human interventions that influence epidemic outcomes. EpiGrid is fully documented and includes worked examples that span the relevant epidemiology, biology, geography, and mitigation scenarios. EpiGrid has aided the U.S response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Paul Fenimore led the Los Alamos Team of Adam Atchley, Kate Bubar, Jessica Conrad, Mira Dimitrijevic, Leticia Cuellar-Hengartner, Carrie Manore, Benjamin McMahon, Jake Miner, Judith Mourant, Angelika Saeger, Sarah Voter and Kristen Wilding.

EpiGrid also received the Silver Medal Special Recognition for Battling COVID-19. This award highlights any innovation that was employed to battle the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.

K-Modules: Capacitive energy modules for pulsed power applications

The capacitive energy modules power energetic X-ray and electron beam generating devices. A design from first principles using sophisticated design and simulation software and state-of-the-art components has produced durable modules that generate higher energy photons and produce a higher X-ray dose than existing units. The higher X-ray dose results in clearer radiographs of dense objects moving at extremely high speeds. These radiographic images can be used to refine computer models for device behavior under extreme conditions.

Kalpak Dighe led the Los Alamos team of Robert Sedillo, Timothy Byers and John Wilson.

LightSlingers: Antennas that generate radio waves from faster-than-light currents

The novel type of broadband antenna “slings” tightly focused wave packets precisely toward a target location. Unlike conventional antennas, they use polarization currents, animated within a dielectric material to faster-than-light speeds, as their emission mechanism. LightSlingers provide better coverage, efficiency, bandwidth, and security than traditional antennas or phased arrays, in a sturdier package with far fewer components.

Andrea Schmidt and John Singleton led the Los Alamos team of Connor Bailey, Frank Krawczyk, Helen Lu, Kimberly Nichols and James Wigger.           

LightSlingers also won also won the Gold Medal Special Recognition for Green Technology Award, which recognizes innovations that help make our environment greener and our goal towards energy reduction closer; and the Bronze Medal Special Recognition for Corporate Social Responsibility Award, which honors organizational efforts to be a greater corporate member of society.

On-Chip Neuromorphic Backpropagation Algorithm (ONBA) for Energy-Efficient Machine Learning

Los Alamos National Laboratory, a member of the Intel Neuromorphic Research Community, developed the open-source ONBA to provide low-power machine learning (ML) on brain-like (neuromorphic) computers. The algorithm runs on Intel’s Loihi chip, which emulates how the brain communicates via voltage spikes. Providing learning entirely on-chip greatly reduces power usage compared with standard computer architectures. Energy-efficient neuromorphic architectures decrease the carbon footprint of ML and support autonomous devices, such as drones, satellites, and robots.

Andrew Sornborger led the team of Alpha Renner, Forrest Sheldon, Jordan Snyder, Louis Tao and Anatoly Zlotnik.

SOFIA: Spectrometer Optimized for Facility Integrated Applications

Nuclear technology, including nuclear power and nuclear medicine, needs safeguards to prevent the unintended spread of nuclear materials. SOFIA provides rapid nondestructive isotopic analysis of radioactive materials without taking a sample or even opening typical containers. SOFIA’s simple infrastructure requirements and compact size are optimal for nuclear fuel cycle facilities, medical isotope production, and environmental monitoring laboratories.

Los Alamos led the joint entry of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado - Boulder. Mark Croce directed the Los Alamos team of Matthew Carpenter, Eric Feissle, Katrina Koehler, Daniel McNeel, David Mercer, Katharine Schreiber, Sophie Weidenbenner and Ryan Winkler.

The Laboratory also received an R&D 100 Finalist award:

LAROMance: Los Alamos Reduced Order Model for advanced non-linear equations

Many proposed clean energy solutions hinge upon our ability to understand and predict how metallic structural components behave when subjected to extreme and complex environments, such as harsh temperature or irradiation. LAROMance models quantify the effects of the microstructure of the metal on the mechanical performance of engineering structures. The software captures the entire spectrum of metal behaviors, providing highly predictive materials tools as a turnkey solution to users irrespective of their materials science expertise.

Laurent Capolungo led the Los Alamos team of Christopher Matthews, Arul Mariyappan, Andre Ruybalid, Aaron Tallman, Carlos Tome,and Chris Stanek.

Read more about the Laboratory’s past R&D 100 Awards.

About Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is operated by Triad, a public service oriented, national security science organization equally owned by its three founding members: Battelle Memorial Institute (Battelle), The Texas A&M University System (TAMUS), and The Regents of the University of California (UC) for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

Los Alamos enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health, and global security concerns.