LLNL captures six R&D 100 awards; three for photonic innovations

July 9, 2010
Livermore, CA--LLNL scientists, engineers, and researchers were honored by R&D Magazine as the recipients of three photonic-related R&D 100 awards.

Livermore, CA--Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) scientists, engineers, and researchers were honored by the trade journal R&D Magazine as the recipients of six R&D 100 awards among the top 100 industrial innovations worldwide in 2009; three of those awards were for photonic innovations.

LLNL worked with three universities, four industrial firms, one other national lab--the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center--and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office. This year's R&D 100 awards will be presented Nov. 11 during a black-tie dinner at the SeaWorld Conference Center in Orlando, FL. With this year’s results, the Laboratory has now captured a total of 135 R&D awards since 1978.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu said, "I want to congratulate all of this year’s winners on their awards and to thank them for their work. The large number of winners from the Department of Energy’s national labs every year is a clear sign that our labs are doing some of the most innovative research in the world. This work benefits us all by enhancing America’s competitiveness, ensuring our security, providing new energy solutions, and expanding the frontiers of our knowledge. Our national labs are truly national treasures, and it is wonderful to see their work recognized once again."

In addition to three awards for new radiation detection materials, carbon nanotube water purification methods, and software for detecting nuclear materials, three of the other award-winning innovations were photonic in nature:

Seeing the retina at the cellular level

A new clinical instrument, a microelectromechanical systems-based Adaptive Optics Optical Coherence Tomography device, developed by researchers from LLNL and other institutions, permits ophthalmologists to see the eye’s retina at the individual cell level. See also related article, "Retinal imaging advances research, disease diagnosis".

With this capability, doctors will be able to obtain early diagnoses and follow the progession of retinal diseases, as well as track the progress of genetic therapies that reverse such diseases. The instrument uses the same adaptive optics principles that allow astronomers to see distant stars and galaxies with the ground-based Keck Telescope in Hawaii with a higher resolution than the Hubble Space Telescope.

To date, the team has built and tested three prototype instruments with support from the National Eye Institute. The work has been performed in collaboration with the University of California, Davis, the Indiana University School of Optometry and Boston Micromachines of Watertown, MA.

Capturing images of a tiny star

A new diagnostic system, the Grating Actuated Transient Optical Recorder (GATOR), developed by LLNL scientists and engineers can acquire sequential images of X-rays or optical light in a trillionth of a second or faster from experiments on the National Ignition Facility (NIF).

This diagnostic tool enables detailed measurements to be taken under ignition conditions to study the high energy density physics of thermonuclear burn--the condition in which stars and nuclear weapons operate. It will enable new studies to advance the scientific understanding of stars as well as stockpile stewardship.

The GATOR system improves upon the time resolution achievable with existing instruments by more than fifty-fold and can image events created using high-power lasers, as well as other high-energy-density objects.

Measuring a photon beam

LLNL researchers have developed an instrument, or energy monitor, that measures the pulse-by-pulse energy of an X-ray free electron laser (XFEL) photon beam without being damaged by the beam or affecting beam quality.

Obtaining a continuous understanding of the XFEL photon beam with minimal intrusion is important because beam characteristics determine the interaction of the beam with the experimental sample.

XFELs are tunable, high-power sources of photons, and these new machines offer significant promise for scientific and medical breakthroughs by capturing molecules and atoms in motion. This work was done in collaboration with a researcher from the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center.

SOURCE: LLNL; https://publicaffairs.llnl.gov/news/news_releases/2010/NR-10-07-02.html

--Posted by Gail Overton; [email protected]; www.laserfocusworld.com

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