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NNSA National Labs Earn Nine R&D 100 Awards

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today announced that its national laboratories – Lawrence Livermore (LLNL), Los Alamos (LANL) and Sandia – have received a total of nine of R&D Magazine’s 2013 R&D 100 Awards. The awards recognize a variety of technologies created by researchers, scientists and engineers from throughout the nuclear security enterprise.

“These awards recognize the tremendous value of our national labs,” said Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz. “Research and development at the national labs continues to help our nation address its energy challenges and pursue the scientific and technological innovations necessary to remain globally competitive.”

R&D Magazine presents the awards annually to the best technological advances at universities, private corporations and government laboratories around the world. Established in 1963, the awards are widely recognized as the “Oscars of Innovation.” They identify and celebrate the top high-technology products introduced to the market each year. The R&D 100 Awards span industry, academia and government-sponsored research focusing on sophisticated testing equipment, innovative new materials, chemistry breakthroughs, biomedical products, consumer items and high-energy physics. In the past, R&D 100 Award winners have included now well-known innovations such as 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) and HDTV (1998).

Below are a list and summaries of the R&D 100 award recipients from throughout NNSA:

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory


  •  microTLC (thin-layer chromatography): A miniaturized, field-portable kit that was originally developed to identify military explosives, microTLC has been modified to identify and determine the purity of illicit drugs, pesticides and other compounds.
  • Superconducting tunnel junction X-ray spectrometer: This technology offers more than 10 times higher energy resolution than current X-ray spectrometers based on silicon or germanium semiconductors.
  • Extreme-power ultra-low-loss dispersive element (EXUDE): This technical innovation allows spectral beam combining to reach unseen output levels – a novel approach to combine beams from many small lasers to produce a single higher-power beam.
  • Convergent polishing: This new polishing method and system is capable of finishing flat and spherical glass optics, regardless of a workpiece’s initial shape, in a single iteration.

Read more.

LANLLos Alamos National Laboratory

  • Acoustic Wavenumber Spectroscopy (AWS): The AWS generates images of hidden structural properties and/or defects. AWS generates such images by taking fast, full-field measurements of a structure’s steady-state response to periodic ultrasonic excitation.
  • Safire: This provides noninvasive, real-time and accurate estimates of oil production for every well. Safire achieves measurement rates as high as 100 readings per second (including computation time).

Read more.

Sandia National Laboratories


  • Portable diagnostic device for Bacillus Anthracis detection in ultra-low resource environments: This Sandia anthrax detector cartridge, about the size of a credit card, can detect anthrax through a microculture chamber that encourages a sparse sample of microorganism to grow to a detectable amount.
  • GOMA 6.0: An open-source software available to those interested in simulating manufacturing processes. Goma 6.0 solves the underpinning equations of mass, momentum, energy and chemical species transport.
  • Triplet-Harvesting Plastic Scintillators (THPS): This new plastic scintillator (instrument for detecting and measuring ionizing radiation) gives off more light at less cost and responds faster than current scintillators.

Read more.

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Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.