July 28, 2005

Four R&D 100 Awards won by Sandia Labs

Better tires, long-range image transmission, non-focused ion beams, and thermally stable foam take awards

Albuquerque, N.M.— In this year's R&D 100 awards – awarded annually by teams of technical experts selected by Chicago-based R&D Magazine ─ Sandia National Laboratories won four awards, including a joint winning entry with the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.

The Labs' computational mechanics software was extensively applied by the company in the development of its new Assurance TM; line of tires, particularly the TripleTred TechnologyTM tire. Finite-element analysis was used to simulate and predict traction, wear, durability, and other performance characteristics of the TripleTred in bringing it from concept to market in less than a year.


For another award, Sandia used innovative data compression techniques to help physicians consult in real time over MRI pictures, though the amount of data transferred is normally huge and the healers may be thousands of miles from each other. Global-Link allows such rapid transmission of complex data that a doctor in the U.S. can confer with a doctor halfway around the world, viewing and manipulating 3-D MRI imagess in real time directly on each doctor's MRI computer. Similarly, oil team members can confer around the globe on observed data. So can military commanders. Extremely responsive interactions between an event and a remote, secure, high-resolution display are possible using Global-Link across the Internet. Results were achieved in collaboration with Logical Solutions, Inc., which is marketing the product.

Ion-Photon Emission Microscope

Sandia earned a third R&D 100 award for the invention of a patented exploratory ion beam microscope system that does not require costly and complicated forming and focusing equipment. Joint winner Quantar Technologies is marketing this invention.

The multidimensional, high-resolution analysis system is called the Ion-Photon Emission Microscope (IPEM). It allows scientists and engineers to microscopically study the effects of single ions in air on semiconductors, semiconductor devices, and biological cells without having to focus the beam. The technique determines the position at which an individual ion enters the surface of a sample; thus, focusing a beam is unnecessary.

TEPIC structural foam

TEPIC is a rigid structural foam developed at Sandia/California that was designed originally to meet certain high-temperature and high-strength requirements for Defense Programs applications. Because it is dimensionally and mechanically stable to temperatures in excess of 200 degrees C, it meets processing requirements to be used as forms for molding advanced composite materials that cure at high temperatures. Formerly, only expensive metal tooling could meet this thermal challenge. Unlike many more conventional tooling materials, it can be processed in thick sections. Cost and weight savings should allow smaller businesses, with less capital investment, to process new composite structures, and in general enable incorporation of advanced structural composites in aerospace, military, automotive, and other consumer product industries.
Also included on this award is Scion Industries, one of two licensees of TEPIC.

The annual R&D 100 contest attempts to select the best applied new technologies. One hundred winners are chosen from an international pool of contestants from universities, private corporations, and government labs.

Sandia, a National Nuclear Security Administration lab, often wins many of its awards in partnership with private companies, other labs, or universities. Recent emphasis on technology transfer has boosted the number of joint submissions.

The R&D 100 Awards —occasionally referred to as "the Nobel Prizes of technology" — were first awarded in 1963 as the I-R 100s, in keeping with the original name of the magazine, Industrial Research. Many entries over the ensuing years became household names, including Polacolor film (1963), the flashcube (1965), the automated teller machine (1973), the halogen lamp (1974), the fax machine (1975), the liquid crystal display (1980), the printer (1986), the Kodak Photo CD (1991), the Nicoderm antismoking patch (1992), Taxol anticancer drug (1993), lab on a chip (1996), and HDTV (1998).

The sole criterion for winning, according to a description released by the magazine, is "demonstrable technological significance compared with competing products and technologies." Properties noted by judges include smaller size, faster speed, greater efficiency, and higher environmental consciousness.

The magazine has responded to new technologies by creating additional categories. Winners have been chosen in the fields of analytical instruments and processes, electronics, testing and measurement, software, environmental technology, and advanced biomedical devices and systems.

Winners are presented plaques at a formal banquet in Chicago in early fall.

"These awards demonstrate that DOE scientists and researchers are hard at work developing the technologies of the future," said U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman. "In the past, breakthroughs like these have played an important role in both our economic and national security."

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Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin company, for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration. Sandia has major R& D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.

Sandia media contact: Neal Singer, 505-845-7078,