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R&D 100 Award finalists laud innovation of NNSA’s labs and partners

The R&D 100 Awards, dubbed the “Oscars of Invention,” honor the latest and best innovations and identify the top technology products of the past year. The awards span industry, academia, and government-sponsored research. Recognition of the nuclear security enterprise’s innovations highlights the great work NNSA’s laboratories are doing to advance national security and science.

Among this year’s finalists are 20 technologies created by laboratories supporting NNSA’s critical missions. The R&D 100 Awards finalists from NNSA’s labs are:


Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL)

  • The Entropy Engine, a random number generator developed, removes the flaw of predictability from crypto systems to strengthen the foundation of computer security.
  • The Hybrid Optimization Software Suite provides a simulation platform to conduct “virtual experiments” for materials phenomena that are difficult to study in the real-world.
  • LANL’s MarFS software leverages cloud data storage technology for high performance computing.
  • LANL and an industrial partner created PathScan, a cybersecurity technology strategy that performs a statistical analysis of abnormal communications behavior across a network and identifies the lateral, reconnaissance, and data staging behaviors of attackers.
  • The Photonic Band Gap Structures enable a new generation of high-current, high-power particle accelerators for applications in medicine, energy, environment, national security, and defense.
  • The Pulmonary Lung Model is a miniature, tissue-engineered artificial lung that mimics the response of the human lung to drugs and toxins.
  • LANL led a team working to turning windows and building facades into energy-producing solar panels using engineered quantum dots.

LANL’s PuLMo artificial lung system is a finalist in the 2016 R&D100 Awards.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL)

  • The GLO Transparent Ceramic Scintillator, created by LLNL and partners, produces optical materials to support high-energy radiography, faster and more efficiently than glass scintillators.
  • The Polyelectrolyte Enabled Liftoff process can fabricate nanoscale membranes that are larger, stronger and thinner than previous methods, with applications in sensing, filtration, and wound-healing.
  • LLNL helped develop Solution-Grown Crystals for High-Energy Neutron Detection, which show potential for radiation-detection devices that detect illicit nuclear weapons and monitor nuclear power plants.

A physicist at LLNL examines a single crystal growing in a solution-growth crystallizer developed for production of stilbene crystals for fast neutron detection.

Sandia National Laboratory (SNL)

  • SNL created a water-free electrofracturing stimulation method that might be applicable to hydrocarbon, or natural gas, reservoirs.
  • The Transceiver for Quantum Keys and Encryption quantum-encrypts communication to secure networks at a millionth the scale and a tenth of the cost of previous systems.
  • Stress-induced Fabrication of Functionally Designed Nanomaterials enables the production of new materials with better performance and structure control while reducing costs, improving manufacturability, and minimizing environmental and safety concerns.
  • The open-source software Pyomo is a platform for rapidly developing powerful optimization-based strategies to solve complex, real-world problems.
  • Ultra-fast X-ray Imager is the world’s fastest multi-frame digital X-ray camera, with applications ranging from imaging plasmas, electric discharges, and shock waves to visualizing intracellular biochemical processes.
  • Neuromorphic Cyber Microscope drastically improves the speed, accuracy, and cost of cyber threat detection using the world’s first commercially viable processing unit that mimics the way our brains process and distribute information.
  • The Falling Particle Receiver enables concentrated solar energy with thermal storage for on demand electricity production, heating, and thermochemical processing at significantly higher efficiencies and lower costs.

A Sandia National Laboratories physicist sets in place an ultrafast multiframe digital X-ray camera — the fastest in the world — in Sandia’s Z-beamlet laser facility.

Three additional finalists were the result of collaboration between labs:

  • The Carbon Capture Simulation Initiative Toolset uses computational modeling and simulation to accelerate the commercialization of carbon capture technologies in power plants. The initiative includes the National Energy Technology Laboratory, LLNL, LANL, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
  • The Virtual Environment for Reactor Applications, created by a team including Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), LANL, Idaho National Laboratory, and SNL, uses supercomputers create models and simulations that advance the safety and performance nuclear reactors.
  • SNL and ORNL were among the co-developers of n-Defender, a new high performing neutron radiation detection technology specifically designed for security monitoring applications, with an emphasis on reliability, accuracy, and ease of use.

Winners will be announced at a ceremony on Nov. 3 in Oxon Hill, Maryland, just outside of the Washington, D.C.