Back to top
Since Lawrence Livermore’s founding, the Laboratory has embraced the credo of new ideas to address important problems. Responding to the nation’s need for national security science and technology has been a catalyst for creative problem solving that continues today. We are driven by our national security mission, which brings an urgency to our work. Livermore’s capabilities and expertise have always evolved to meet these needs, and this philosophy has naturally made its way into other scientific domains. This approach is particularly relevant now as we work with the scientific community to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today—nearly 70 years after the Laboratory’s gates opened—our culture of innovation and discovery is very much alive. Over the years, we have produced many award-winning technologies, including more than 160 products, devices, and processes that have garnered recognition from the prestigious R&D 100 Award competition. In 2019, we were honored to have received four of these awards. Our winners are featured in this issue of Science & Technology Review.
Two of these technologies are software tools that solve different problems in high-performance computing (HPC). The Spack package management tool simplifies and automates deployment of large-scale scientific software applications. Spack’s large, centralized repository of package recipes reduces redundancies by leveraging others’ work, and the tool’s flexibility lets users customize their application builds for any machine. Once a scientific application is running, bottlenecks often occur when simulation data is written to the supercomputer’s long-term storage nodes. The Scalable Checkpoint/Restart (SCR) framework eases this burden by exploiting intermediate levels of storage. The application can run more quickly—reducing time to solution—thanks to SCR’s accelerated data movement.
A third winner is an advanced material that improves blood vessel embolization. The IMPEDE® embolization plug brings Livermore’s materials science capabilities to bear on the medical need to stop uncontrolled blood flow through vessels, such as those damaged by aneurysm leaks, trauma, and other conditions. Working with collaborators in academia and industry, the development team has created an optimized shape-memory-polymer foam that expands to fill and protect a damaged vessel. As part of the research effort, the team also used the Laboratory’s HPC systems to simulate blood flow and material strength, demonstrating the range of treatment opportunities to clinicians.
Our fourth winner is a specialized detector that aids in nuclear nonproliferation efforts. The MC-15 portable neutron multiplicity detector zeroes in on neutron multiplication as an indicator of nuclear fission, helping security teams quickly identify the presence of special nuclear materials. Similar to other finely calibrated instrumentation developed at the Laboratory, the MC-15 system is operator-friendly and portable.
While extraordinary scientific and engineering capabilities and talented staff make us a wellspring of creativity, we purposefully work to embrace the practices of “open innovation” by connecting with new partners, embracing novel approaches, and working beyond the Laboratory site. The R&D 100 Award–winning technologies described herein were all carried out with collaborators. We are also fortunate to be situated close to Silicon Valley, where invention and entrepreneurship are a way of life, and the competition is healthy. We find many opportunities for technology transfer in this environment. In addition, our researchers come from many different backgrounds and cultural experiences. This diversity creates a constant exchange of ideas, and we are better for it. On behalf of the Laboratory’s leadership team, I offer a hearty congratulations to our 2019 R&D 100 Award winners, who have all successfully demonstrated what a culture of innovation can accomplish.