News and Events (Archive)
The MSSE Divison participates in sponsor-funded research and development and supports a number of conferences in scientific and technical areas. This area of our site contins archieve information regarding our research, publications, proposals, awards, technical directions, conferences, staffing, and student and faculty visitors.
Highlights for January-March 2011
Highlights for January-December 2010
Highlights for July-December 2009
Highlights for January-June 2009
To see our current events, please visit our MSSE Current News and Events page.
At the request of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), the Technical Testing and Analysis Center (TTAC) in the Sensor Science and Technology Group (SST) hosted senior Naval Academy Midshipmen Justin Langan for a week of testing and various other laboratory experimental activities. This week-long emersion into the verification and validation studies performed by the TTAC, on new advanced radiation and nuclear detection systems being developed by the Department of Defense, was a first for ORNL and Midshipmen Langan. The TTAC, lead by Peter Chiaro, plans to build on this initial successful hands-on experience to provide insight for military officers in training into the critical mission of national defense against radiological and nuclear threats.
I've got a couple of strong recollections of the ORNL's old Instrumentation & Controls Division. One is that the division always seemed to have a lot of really cool inventions and cool inventors. It was that kind innovative organization. I also remember the group had one of the rattiest workplaces at the lab, with much of the work housed in one of the oldest buildings on the main drag.
Anyway, what I think is kind of irrelevant because some of the division's prominent alumni have come out with a new book documenting the history of the Instrumentation & Controls Division. It's titled, "Beyond the Edge of Technology." And the authors, pictured here, from the left, are Don Miller, Les Oakes, Ray Adams and Richard Anderson.
I talked to Miller by phone this afternoon, and he sounded pretty pumped up. He has put a lot of work into the project, and I'm anxious to see the product.
On May 19, in the morning, the authors will present the book to ORNL Director Thom Mason and Ken Tobin, the director of the newly evolved division now known as Measurement Science & Systems Engineering.
Later in the day, the group will gather at the American Museum of Science & Energy for a book signing. I think the time is tentatively set for 1 to 3 p.m.
By the way, the book will cover the division's activities from 1944 to 1994.
Good luck, guys.
Posted by Frank Munger on May 12, 2009
(Frank Munger's Atomic City Underground - Knoxville News Sentinel)
Columbus, Ohio—Innovation is the name of the game at Battelle and each year inventors who have distinguished themselves are recognized. This year, John Laudo was named the 2008 Battelle Inventor of the Year for his work in optical systems for sensors at the annual Recognition and Rewards Banquet in late April.
Also honored were inventors from the national laboratories Battelle manages or co-manages. Jacob Hooker of Brookhaven National Laboratory, John Simpson of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Daniel Ginosar of Idaho National Laboratory, and Richard Smith of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
Jacob Hooker and his colleagues are involved in tracer molecules that help scanners see inside the human body to learn more about diseases such as cancer and drug addiction.
John Simpson works in photonic materials and devices.
Daniel Ginosar is the group leader for INL’s Interfacial Chemistry Research Group and works in low carbon footprint fuels.
Richard Smith’s research has an emphasis on improving analytic methods in biomedical research.
For more information on Battelle and its family of laboratories, visit www.battelle.org/battelle_news/.
Ultra Wide Band (UWB) technology has many potential applications for tracking and identifying high valued assets via radio frequency identification. The low power, short duration pulse signals have inherent benefits in typical secure industrial environments. The signals are immune to signal corruption via multi-pathing and the low power and spread spectrum nature of the signals are difficult to detect and are unlikely to cause interference. Commercial UWB systems also feature very high bandwidth, with the ability to read over 1,000 tags per second. However, traditional UWB asset tags have been avoided in secure industrial environments because they are one-way tags that beacon a signal at a set pulse rate, typically once per second. This mode of operation is not acceptable for some customers because they need radio silence when the asset is in certain locations or under other circumstances. ORNL is currently working on an activated UWB tag that incorporates a low frequency radio receiver which is used to activate the UWB radio only when desired. The benefits of using low frequency activation is that a wide-area loop antenna can be created, which should provide activation zones of up to 100x100 feet with low cost electronics and antennas. Additionally, low frequency activation has other important benefits such as ideal signal propagation near water and metal and the ability to operate at very low power levels. In addition to activation, the tags under development by ORNL will feature sensor based variable pulse rates. For example, a motion sensor can be used to change the pulse rates when an item is being moved. Features such as this not only increase the items visibility when needed, but also preserve battery life by reducing the pulse frequency when an item is static, such as in long term storage.
Technical highlights this quarter include successful decoding of the data stream and cyclic redundancy checks used by Multi-Spectral Solutions UWB asset tags. This information will allow ORNL to generate custom data packets. This provides the ability to send customized sensor data along with a tag ID. Additionally, data packets can be combined to increase the amount of data that a tag can transmit.
The initial design of the low frequency activator device is complete and is awaiting circuit board fabrication and population. Testing of this device is expected over the next quarter. Based on the data obtained from these tests, the LF receiver design will begin next quarter.
MSSED personnel have recently developed an instrument package for both monitoring and control of some special machines at the project sponsor’s site. About twenty of the packages are already in use (see photo below), and a total of 61 units have been requested for the demonstration phase of the project. This development is the result of several months of effort in cooperation with sponsor personnel and represents completion of a major milestone described in the related Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the sponsor. Work on a second generation package is already underway.
Since each instrument package handles a number of both analog and digital inputs and outputs, and malfunctions can result in equipment damage and high recovery costs, the sponsor also requested the development of an automated tester for the instrument packages. This tester emulates the signals from a vendor machine and monitors the package responses to verify proper operation over an extensive range of conditions. All of the packages must undergo full functional testing before they can be certified for use on a sponsor machine.
ORNL’s Biomedical Science and Engineering Center (BSEC) hosted its first conference on March 18-19, 2009. There were approximately 110 attendees. The program was packed with a wide variety of quality speakers from research institutions, universities, and government agencies. BSEC is an umbrella organization that consolidates and exploits synergies of a wide variety of biomedical-related research and development underway at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The center seeks to create a central focal point for cross-cutting, interdisciplinary collaborations in biomedical informatics, biomedical modeling and simulation and biomedical measurement and imaging technologies. An overarching goal of the center is to provide a platform for strong, multi-disciplined collaborations involving the ORNL community, medical research institutions, academia, industry and other government agencies. The scope of these activities range from new discovery all the way to the licensing of the new technology. The makeup of the center reflects the variety of biomedical-related activities and capabilities present at ORNL. The center is a joint effort between the Computational Sciences and Engineering Division, the Measure Science and Engineering Division and the Biosciences Division. The center works closely with ORNL’s National Institutes for Health (NIH) program manager to ensure the Lab is appropriately engaged in addressing national health issues of our day. Additionally, the center works with a variety of government agencies and private companies helping resolve challenging biomedical-related issues. Feedback from the conference has been very positive with strong encouragement to make the conference an annual affair.
The Robotics and Energetic Systems Group completed the final design of the second-generation omni-directional and holonomic wheel assembly based on the ORNL OCILOW Technology that provides wheeled platforms with unmatched mobility capabilities, of particular benefit for maneuvering in tight or restricted spaces. The new design includes special features to address shipboard acceptability requirements and military specifications. As a result, further funding was awarded for FY-09 activities including fabrication of a proof-of-principle single wheel assembly and functionality tests.
A new Work for Others (WFO) project has been approved and initiated with OrthoCare, Inc. for the development of a novel prosthesis alignment device. Prosthesis misalignment is a significant source of discomfort, bruising, pain or even mis-step for lower-limb amputees. The device, which is actuated to correct the alignment, uses ORNL mesofluidics technology to achieve high accuracy alignment with a very compact system. The preliminary design was completed this quarter and approved by OrthoCare for further design activities.
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., March 30, 2009 -- Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital are looking at how developing nerve cells may hold a key to predicting and preventing diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson's disease.
St. Jude scientists have linked movement and changes of nerve cells, or neurons, in the brains and retinas of young mice to certain diseases. Now, for the first time, they can use ORNL-developed software to analyze these vast amounts of data in record time.
“St. Jude has identified neuron shape abnormalities and neuron migration issues that are linked to specific diseases,” said Shaun Gleason of ORNL’s Measurement Science and Systems Engineering Division. “However, because they have so much data, they can't study it in great detail.”
Gleason said ORNL is working with Michael Dyer of St. Jude’s Department of Developmental Neurobiology to develop computer software that will automate the process of tracking changes in the shape and position of neurons over time.
One of Gleason’s group members, Ryan Kerekes, already has written software to track the movement of neurons by homing in on each cell’s centrosome—a key cellular structure. This will enable the software to scour a sequence of video images at high speed, looking for specific patterns of migration, Gleason said.
“For example, a member of the St. Jude staff took several weeks to analyze the image data generated by three experiments using a largely manual approach,” Gleason said. “Our algorithm can analyze the same data set in approximately two minutes with almost identical results.
“When St. Jude researchers analyze their images, they look for several specific changes, but there may be much more relevant information in those images that they don't have the ability to look for. Our software is designed to help them find this information in a more efficient and objective manner, so they can understand more of what's going on earlier in the developmental process.”
The next stage in software development will be focused on automatically detecting when and how neurons branch or grow. Branching patterns and branch orientations can be critical to distinguishing between normally developing neurons and those with the potential to cause disease, Gleason said.
“The ultimate goal of this research is to develop computational tools that recognize how neurons change and move in ways that are unexpected or abnormal, so that neuroscientists at St. Jude and elsewhere can develop ways of addressing these changes to treat and ultimately to prevent neurological diseases,” Gleason said. “This research team, being composed of image and computational analysis experts at ORNL and experienced neuroscientists at St Jude, is in a great position to solve some challenging problems in a unique way.”
The work is funded by the Seed Money Fund of ORNL’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development program and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy.
MEDIA CONTACT: Jim Pearce
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Communications and External Relations
(865) 241-2427, email@example.com
NOTE TO EDITORS: You may read other press releases from Oak Ridge National Laboratory or learn more about the lab at http://www.ornl.gov/news.
Fluidics still relevant for prosthetics (February 13, 2009)
In The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars villain Darth Vader lopped off hero-son Luke Skywalker’s right hand with a light saber. In the next scene Luke was fitted with a sophisticated prosthetic and the story line continued. Lord Vader himself, we learned years later, was a walking showroom of artificial appendages.
But that was long ago in a galaxy far, far away. In reality, the loss of a limb is a devastating injury that entails a lifetime of rehabilitation and adaptation. At best, prosthetics give back only a fraction of the lost functionality of a real leg or arm.
Events of the past several years have renewed interest in prosthetics; in fact, prosthetics technologies typically see the most advances during times of conflict. A 2008 visit by an official of a prosthetics firm revealed a number of ORNL technologies that could be applied to improving life for people who have lost limbs.
Lonnie Love is part of a team that is developing a system for artificial limbs based on mesofluidics, a technology similar to the hydraulic systems that power large equipment. Except in this case the technology is scaled down to power equipment for a person.
A mesofluidic prosthetic system (meso means it’s on a scale between micro and macro) would enable control and motion with pressurized fluid, much as high-lifts and front-end loaders are powered, except on a much smaller scale.
“Most prosthetics today are powered by electric motors, with very low power-to-weight ratio. We’re looking at miniaturizing hydraulics,” Lonnie says. “Hydraulics have a power-to-weight ratio that is 10 to 20 times higher, and these systems can also be cheaper.”
Years ago the conventional wisdom held that electric servo motors would supplant hydraulic or, on a smaller scale, fluidic systems. But for some applications, particularly where there are weight limits, fluidics make more sense.
Lonnie and his teammates Randy Lind and John Jansen of the Robotics and Energetic Systems group have devised a mechanical finger composed of just 25 moving parts (as opposed to, in some cases, thousands). It can generate 20 pounds of force with its self-contained fluidic “muscles,” is simple to operate, reliable, rugged and lightweight.
“The key is the control valves,” Lonnie says. “Hydraulic force is proportional to pressure—2,000 pounds per square inch is a lot of force. The flow rate of the fluid controls velocity, and the control valve controls how much fluid goes to the artificial joint’s actuator, or muscle.”
The Measurement Science & Systems Engineering Division group has designed tiny valves that provide a crucial combination of high pressure at low flow to mimic the operation of a true muscle. The prototype system works with simple mineral oil, channeled through a two-thousandths of an inch diameter valve port.
“There are lots of low-flow, low-pressure systems and high-flow, high-pressure systems, but combining high pressure and low flow is the key to making artificial hands and feet that work similar to the real limbs,” Lonnie says. “These valves are the keys to making controllable hands and feet.”
Recently Doug McCormack, chief executive officer of the prosthetic firm OrthoCare Innovations, visited ORNL accompanied by the company’s chief technical officer, David Boone. They received tours and briefings on ORNL technologies and capabilities that could be applied to advanced prosthetics, such as superhydrophobic materials, carbon foam, e-beam curing and low-cost manufacturable titanium.
“By the end of the day they felt like they were in a grocery story,” Lonnie says.
McCormack, whose company’s headquarters is in Washington, D.C., is trying to overcome the cyclical nature of prosthetics research funding, which spikes during wartime and ebbs when injuries subside in peace. His relationships with lawmakers are bolstered by the fact that he, himself, wears a prosthetic leg.
The company is attempting to establish a research center in Oklahoma City, where OrthoCare Innovations has a manufacturing facility. Lonnie, Art Clemons and others recently participated in a technology showcase there, also attended by Sen. James Inhofe, a congressional supporter of prosthetics research.
Lonnie believes prosthetics technologies, which haven’t seen a great deal of advancement since the 1970s, are poised to benefit from materials and systems technology advances of the past few decades.
“They [OrthoCare] sent me prosthetic parts and asked what we could do. Half the weight on a prosthetic foot is only the metal fasteners. Cliff Eberle is working on a high-strength composite made with e-beam curing. You could make everything out of composites with tremendous weight savings,” Lonnie says.
Other ORNL materials that apply to better prosthetics include carbon foam, whose heat transferring properties could make wearing artificial limbs more comfortable, as would the superhydrophobic material, which could alleviate the discomfort caused by perspiration at prosthetic-limb interfaces. ORNL’s new low-cost method for casting titanium could have a major lightweight benefit. OrthoCare also asked if parts could be coated in nickel, which makes them resistant to infection.
ORNL-developed materials may soon be joined with Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency-funded control systems. One is nerve reinnervation, being developed by Dr. Todd Kuiken of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, who attached the arm nerves of a Dayton, Tenn., double amputee, Jessee Sullivan, to healthy chest muscles. Sullivan has learned to move his prosthetic arms by simply “thinking” about what he wants them to do.
Other approaches to prosthetic control are implanting “bions,” or electronic capsules, in the nerves of lost limbs, which would work with a cuff at the interface with the prosthetic and brain-machine interfaces that would transmit brain activity to the limbs.
“Quadriplegics could really benefit from this,” Lonnie says, describing fluidic-based systems that would help power enfeebled limbs. “It’s far out, but there is lots of potential.”
That potential is being recognized by the National Science Foundation and DARPA, who are active in advancing the state of the art in prosthetics. Advances in hydraulic and fluidic technologies stalled after a spurt of advances in electric motors occurred.
“The best books on hydraulics were written in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s,” says Lonnie, who recalls that his Georgia Tech mentor was dubious about his choice of hydraulics as a specialty. Funding at the time was nearly nonexistent. Now, however, that same professor is the first Distinguished Chair in Fluid Power at Georgia Tech.”
Combat injuries from current conflicts, which have been dominated by blunt-force trauma, have bumped up the demand for new and better artificial limbs.
One new technology that is not so “far out” is a mesofluidic alignment device that would help patients properly align their prosthetic legs with the residual limb, which is typically a difficult procedure requiring multiple refits.
To someone like OrthoCare’s McCormack, who has experienced the challenges presented by the loss of a limb, ORNL is a font of promise directed toward improving shattered lives and moving advanced prosthetics out of space-operas and into reality.
“He was absolutely giddy when he left,” Lonnie says of McCormack’s visit. “His excitement is something I’ll never forget.”
OrthoCare Innovations LLC
Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago
Measurement Science & Systems Engineering Division
SOURCE: Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Advantage Business Media
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Feb. 17, 2009 – In the blink of an eye, people at risk of becoming blind can now be screened for eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration.
ORNL and UT researchers have created a better, quicker way to screen patients for eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration.
Using a technology originally developed at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory to understand semiconductor defects, three locations in Memphis have been equipped with digital cameras that take pictures of the retina. Those images are relayed to a center where they are analyzed and the patient knows in minutes whether he or she needs additional medical attention.
“Once we’ve taken pictures of the eyes, we transmit that information to our database, where it is compared to thousands of images of known retinal disease states,” said Ken Tobin, who led the ORNL team that developed the technology. “From there, the computer system is able to determine whether the patient passes the screening or it provides a follow-up plan that includes seeing an ophthalmologist.”
Already, this technology is making a difference as two patients at the Church Health Center in Memphis have been identified as needing laser treatment for moderate and severe diabetic retinopathy and macular edema, both conditions that can lead to blindness.
While some cameras have been installed, others will be installed at several rural and urban health care centers serving the Mississippi Delta. Another camera is planned for a federally funded health center in Chattanooga. Eventually, the goal is to have hundreds of cameras throughout the United States and beyond. If disease can be detected early, treatments can preserve vision and significantly reduce the occurrence of debilitating blindness.
This project takes advantage of ORNL’s proprietary content-based image retrieval technology, which quickly sorts through large databases and finds visually similar images. For more than a decade manufacturers of semiconductors have used this technology to rapidly scan hundreds of thousands of tiny semiconductors to learn quickly about problems in the manufacturing process.
“Our approach allows us to adapt a proven technology to describe key regions of the retina, and this information can then be used to index images in a content-based image retrieval library,” Tobin said. “What separates this from other methods is that we have automated the process of diagnosing retinal disease by capturing the expert knowledge of an ophthalmologist in a patient archive.”
Leading the medical portion of the project is Edward Chaum, an ophthalmologist and Plough Foundation Professor of Retinal Diseases at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (http://www.eye.utmem.edu) Hamilton Eye Institute in Memphis. Chaum, the lead researcher on the National Eye Institutes grant that has funded much of this research, is especially excited about the number of people, particularly the indigent and medically underserved communities, that this technology will help.
“Right now, with 21 million diabetics in the United States, we need to be screening 400,000 patients for diabetic eye disease every week,” Chaum said. “Less than half of these diabetics receive the recommended annual eye exam, which is absolutely essential to minimize serious eye complications and potential blindness.”
By 2050 the number of diabetics in the United States is expected to double, so the task of screening patients becomes even more daunting. Looking beyond the United States and more near term, the World Health Organization estimates that by 2025 more than 1 million patients will need to be screened worldwide for diabetes every day.
“To reach this goal, we are going to have to change the health care delivery paradigm,” Chaum said, “and that will mean distributing these cameras to clinics and offices of primary care physicians.”
Over the next few months a more fully automated image analysis network managing images nationwide, and eventually worldwide will be rolled out, as Chaum envisions this being a global effort using automated technology and the connectivity of the World Wide Web.
Other researchers involved in this project are Tom Karnowski and Luca Giancardo of ORNL’s Measurement Science and Systems Engineering Division, Stacy Li of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis and Karen Fox of the Delta Health Alliance.
The researchers have published a number of papers, most recently in Retina, The Journal of Retinal and Vitreous Diseases. The paper, titled “Automated Retinal Diagnosis by CBIR,” appears in Vol. 28, No. 10 (2008).
Additional funding for this project, begun in June 2004 through ORNL’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development program, has been provided by the National Eye Institute, The Plough Foundation, the Army Medical and Material Command, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration.
UT-Battelle manages Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the Department of Energy.
You may read other press releases from Oak Ridge National Laboratory or learn more about the lab at http://www.ornl.gov/news
Ron Walli Oak Ridge National Laboratory Communications & External Relations (865) 576-0226
Dena Owens University of Tennessee Health Science Center Media Relations and Communications Specialist (901) 448-4072
The Biomedical Science and Engineering Center (BSEC) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is hosting its first annual conference to address issues facing the medical community. The goal is to identify innovative, interdisciplinary research trends in biomedical technologies and research for maximum application-specific problem solving.
1) Biomedical Informatics (the intersection of computer science and medicine; i.e., data analytics, 3-D visualization, user interfaces, data fusion, and multi-modal integration)
2) Modeling and Simulation (visualization, organ models, mathematical, mechanistic and statistical modeling of biomedical problems)
3) Measurement Science and Imaging Techniques (diagnostic tools and devices, biomarkers and biosensors, advanced imaging technologies, and visualization techniques)
Participants are invited to submit abstracts for papers and posters to be presented at the conference. Key topics of interest include: wound healing; traumatic brain injury (TBI); inflammation; breast cancer and imaging; vascular pathologies; systems medicine (in context of data integration and visualization); neuronal development; knowledge discovery/data mining; tools/technologies for decision-making, diagnosis, and device development; and tools/technologies for data analytics, text and image processing, and machine learning.
Important dates to remember:
|January 26, 2009||Foreign National Registration Deadline (No Exceptions)
|February 4, 2009||Closing date for abstracts for papers and posters
|February 11, 2009||Notification of acceptance/rejection of abstracts
|March 13, 2009||Four-page papers (IEEE format) due for review (electronic format only).|
More information is available on the attached announcement and on the conference website: http://computing.ornl.gov/cse_home/cms/conference/index.shtml.
The conference is co-sponsored by IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, and all proceedings will be published by IEEE
Please pass this information along to your colleagues, graduate students and post doctoral fellows, and others researchers who may be interested in these topics. Due to space limitations, no undergraduates may participate.
Mark Buckner of the RF & Microwave Systems group in the Measurement Science & Systems Engineering Division has been appointed to the National Research Council's Committee on Universal Radio Frequency System for Special Operations Forces. The committee's charter is to outline the next-generation of radio frequency capability needs and strategy for the United States Special Operations Command (USSCOM). Mark's selection was based on his expertise in cognitive radios, software-defined radios, communications, software engineering, and systems engineering. Mark directs the ORNL Cognitive Radio Program.
DOE Secretary Award (January 2009)
ORNL team recognized in Secretarial Honor Awards: A team with 19 members from ORNL was honored by Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman for its support of DOE's national security mission. ORNL's Energy and Engineering Sciences, Global Initiatives, and Physical Sciences directorates were represented on the Project Kalamazoo team selected to received the Secretary's Achievement Award, which recognizes significant achievements on behalf of the Department that demonstrate a high level of cooperation and teamwork.
ORNL contact: Mike Rochford, firstname.lastname@example.org