August 1999

Eight: Another big year for R&D 100s

ORNL researchers and engineers almost duplicated a record performance by winning eight R&D 100 Awards, pushing their national lab-leading total to 104 since the awards began in 1963. The total is just one shy of ORNL’s record nine awards in 1997.

The awards are presented annually by R&D Magazine in recognition of the year’s most significant technological innovations. The honors were for the following processes or inventions.

  1. The Galvanneal Temperature Measurement System, developed by ORNL’s Steve Allison, David Beshears, Mike Cates, Mitchell Childs, Wayne Manges, Tim McIntyre and Marc Simpson in a joint entry with American Iron and Steel Institute, Bailey Engineers and National Steel Technical Center, provides critical on-line thermal process control information during the manufacture of galvanneal steel. It makes it possible to monitor the temperature of the steel as the protective zinc coating is being formed and to make adjustments.
  2. The Micromechanical Quantum Detector (MQD) was developed by Panos Datskos, Boyd Evans, Slo Rajic of ORNL and the late Charles Egert of the Y-12 Plant. Also listed on the award is Irene Datskou of Environmental Engineering Group. The MQD is a highly sensitive miniature photon detection device based on photo-induced stresses in semiconductors. It provides exceptionally sensitive and high-speed photon detection with wide dynamic range, photon wavelength tunability, uncooled operation, low power consumption and small size.
  3. RABiTS, developed by Amit Goyal, John Budai, David Norton, Eliot Specht, Dave Christen, Donald Kroeger, Parans Paranthaman, Frederick List, Ron Feenstra, Dominic Lee, David Beach, Patrick Martin, Ed Hatfield, John Mathis, Chan Park, Xingtian Cui and Darren Verebelyi, could make it possible to make long lengths of ultra high-performance superconducting wires necessary for a wide range of high-temperature superconductors.
  4. The frostless heat pump, developed by Vince Mei, Fang Chen, Richard Murphy and Ron Domitrovic, features a new design that greatly reduces frost formation on the outdoor coil and eliminates the need for most defrosting sequences, improving efficiency and comfort for occupants.
  5. A multifunctional biochip, developed by Tuan Vo-Dinh, Alan Wintenberg, Nance Ericson, J.P. Alarie, Gordon Miller, Minoo Askari and Narayan Isola, integrates microelectronics and biotechnology in a single system for rapid screening and detection of diseases. It can substantially decrease the cost of medical diagnostics. When it’s in use, patients will be able to have their test results for the AIDS virus, cancer, tuberculosis or other diseases before they leave the doctor’s office.
  6. The self-cleaning carbon air filter, developed by Kirk Wilson, Tim Burchell and Rod Judkins, is an activated carbon fiber composite filter that removes harmful gaseous indoor air pollutants. When the filter becomes dirty, an automatic reverse air cleaning cycle passes electric current through the filter, releasing pollutants into a purge air stream that exhausts harmful pollutants outdoors.
  7. ATLAS, developed by Jack Dongarra, an ORNL–University of Tennessee distinguished scientist, and Clint Whaley of UT, automates much of the time-consuming process of automatically generating and optimizing numerical software for processors with deep memory hierarchies and pipelined functional units.
  8. NetSolve 1.2, developed by Dongarra—another joint winner with UT—is a client-server system that enables users to solve complex scientific problems remotely. It searches for computational resources on a network, chooses the best one available, solves a problem and returns the answers to the user.
—Reported by Ron Walli