Oak Ridge National Laboratory


News Release

Media Contact: Ron Walli (wallira@ornl.gov)
Communications and External Relations


ORNL researchers win six R&D 100 awards

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., June 27, 1996 — Researchers at the Department of Energy's (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have won six R&D 100 Awards, pushing their total to 85 since the awards began in 1963.

The awards, announced today by ORNL Director Alvin W. Trivelpiece, are presented annually by R&D Magazine in recognition of the year's most significant technological innovations. One of the awards was for a joint entry with Commercial Crystal Laboratories of Naples, Fla.

The honors were for the following processes or inventions: .

Gencell 101, an inexpensive alkaline cellulase produced by a species of bacteria belonging to a newly identified genus. The most immediate potential application of Gencell 101 is in textile finishing, such as for producing "stone-washed" jeans. It also has the potential for commercial applications in all areas where cellulase is being used, including food processing, detergents, drain cleaners and septic system treatments. In addition to being cultivated for the enzyme, the bacteria may be applied in situ, as a waste treatment, for example.

Gencell 101 was developed by Craig Dees of the Health Sciences Research Division.

Laboratory-on-a-chip, a microfabricated device that performs chemical and biochemical procedures under computer control using minuscule quantities of samples and reagents.

Lab-on-a-chip was developed by J. Michael Ramsey and Stephen Jacobson of the Chemical and Analytical Sciences Division.

Thin-film rechargeable lithium batteries, a group of solid-state rechargeable lithium batteries that are less than 10 micrometers thick, each based on different cathode materials. They have energy densities unequaled by any other battery technology, can be cycled thousands of times and they can be fabricated on a variety of substrates and devices in arbitrary shapes and to any required size to meet the requirements of a specific application.

John Bates, Nancy Dudney and Chris Luck of the Solid State Division developed these batteries.

Surface-Enhanced Raman Gene (SERGen) Probe, a new system to simultaneously provide a simple, rapid and inexpensive test for the detection of multiple sequence-specific DNA fragments. The probe allows rapid quantitative screening of multiple gene diseases in a single measurement. The SERGen procedure is simple, cost-effective, rapid and can be performed as a multi-test for medical diagnosis at small medical clinics under field conditions.

SERGen Probe was developed by Tuan Vo-Dinh, David Stokes and Kelly Houck of the Health Sciences Research Division.

Potassium Tantalate (Niobate) Substrate , a material that is unique in that it can be produced either in a highly insulating or semiconducting form, or as a ferroelectric material with a variable ferroelectric transition temperature. This substrate can be produced as large wafers (5 centimeters or larger in diameter) as substrates for high-temperature superconducting films. Potential applications are as miniature "super" capacitors, ferroelectric films for information storage in digital circuitry or in the field of integrated and hybrid optics.

Lynn Boatner and Ron Feenstra of the Solid State Division developed this material with Michael Urbanik of Commercial Crystal Laboratories.

Two technologies developed by the same team were grouped together and won the sixth R&D 100 Award. The technologies are the noncontact micromechanical thermometer and microcantilever mercury vapor sensor. The noncontact micromechanical thermometer is a miniature, battery-operated temperature sensor based on a simple, revolutionary concept that can measure temperature differences with a sensitivity of .001 degree Celsius. The microcantilever mercury vapor sensor is a miniature, battery-operated device based on a revolutionary concept that can detect mercury vapor in air with 100 times better sensitivity than any commercially available mercury sensor.

These technologies were developed by Thomas Thundat, Bruce Warmack, Eric Wachter, Patrick Oden and Panos Datskos.

ORNL, which is managed by Lockheed Martin Energy Research Corporation, is one of DOE's multiprogram research laboratories.