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November 2001

The Laboratory
in the News

Commentary by
Hal Graboske

Welding Science:
A New Look at a

Probing the
Subsurface with

Probing the Liquid
Water Surface

New Targets for
Inertial Fusion





The Laboratory
in the News

Digital mammography gets FDA approval
Fischer Imaging Corporation of Denver, Colorado, has received Food and Drug Administration approval for its digital mammography system, which was initially developed in collaboration with Lawrence Livermore scientists and engineers under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement between 1993 and 1996.
FDA approval of SensoScan, the Fischer Imaging system, means that the federal agency has found the digital system to be safe and effective for use in the same clinical applications as traditional mammography. FDA approval also means that SensoScan becomes available for regular clinical use to treat patients. Previously, it could only be used in a research setting.
Traditional mammography technology uses film to record the x-ray image of breast tissue. SensoScan records the image electronically. Thus, tissue images can be acquired at one location and rapidly transmitted to another site for interpretation.
Better yet, with digital mammography, computers can now be used to help diagnose and evaluate the high-fidelity digital tissue images. According to Livermore mechanical engineer Clint Logan, who heads the collaboration with Fischer, image variables such as contrast and brightness can be adjusted on computer display, not fixed by film chemistry and exposure. Thus, the possibility of human error or misinterpretation decreases.
The Laboratory’s ability to assist in the development of digital mammography grew out of work performed for ballistic missile defense, specifically the X-Ray Laser Program. When the U.S. ended that program, the Livermore team applied the materials analysis and characterization tools and expertise developed for the x-ray laser to other technologies, including digital mammography.
Contact: Stephen Wampler (925) 423-3107 (

Livermore cosponsors tribes’ energy conference
In late August, the Laboratory cosponsored a two-day conference on energy solutions with the Council of Energy Resource Tribes (CERT). The conference attracted 350 participants representing nearly 50 American and Canadian Indian tribes, private industry, the University of California, and the Department of Energy.
This is the 20th year that CERT has held the conference and the first time it has asked a national laboratory to be a cosponsor, according to Livermore’s Karen Kiernan, who coordinated Livermore’s involvement in the conference.
CERT is a coalition of 44 American Indian tribes and 4 Canadian affiliate members that own a substantial share of North America’s energy reserves.
The conference, held in San Jose, California, included workshops on Indian energy solutions such as conservation, natural resource strategies, and tribal policies.
The tribes are working to have a much stronger technical and managerial role in developing energy resources on tribal lands than in the past, when they principally received only royalties.
The conference also included the American Spirit Awards dinner, a fund-raiser for CERT’s scholarship fund. At this dinner, Steve Grey, representative for the DOE–Livermore American Indian Program field office, presented two scholarships to essay winners on behalf of the Laboratory.
Contact: Karen Kiernan (925) 423-9051 (

Laboratory–Russia to partner on dialysis equipment
Following lengthy negotiations led by Laboratory representatives, the first joint commercial venture between a former Russian weapons manufacturer and a U.S. firm has been formally signed.
Avangard Electromechanical Plant in Russia and Fresenius Medical Care in the U.S. will establish a commercial medical equipment manufacturing facility in Sarov, Russia. The new company, called FRESAR, will produce high-quality, low-cost kidney dialysis equipment.
The project is part of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA’s) Nuclear Cities Initiative (NCI), which seeks to reduce the risk of nuclear proliferation by helping create civilian jobs for displaced weapons workers in the former Soviet Union. The project also receives funding from NNSA’s Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention program.
FRESAR will build assembly lines for disposable medical products used in Fresenius kidney dialysis equipment. The lines are expected to be fully operational by the end of 2003, with products to be marketed by Fresenius in Russia and other European countries.
The venture was spearheaded by Ann Heywood, leader of the Laboratory’s Russian medical technologies work in support of NCI, and Jim Trebes of the Physics and Advanced Technology Directorate’s Medical Technology program. The project is managed by the Nonproliferation, Arms Control, and International Security Directorate.
Contact: Ann Heywood (925) 422-2773 (



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UCRL-52000-01-11 | December 30, 2001