Acting Deputy Director for Science and Technology
Award Winning Technologies from Collaborative
PARTNERSHIPS and collaborations
are important to the success of research and development organizations.
person’s idea can be developed from a new concept to a revolution
in technology. In fact, most technological innovations made today
advanced to that point through collaboration.
Researchers at the national laboratories play a key role in building the connections
that turn ideas into the tools and technologies needed to accomplish the laboratories’ missions.
At Livermore, our collaborations with universities often bring valuable breakthroughs
that lead to a program’s success. With private industry partnerships, Livermore
researchers have been developing and improving technologies and processes for
more than 50 years. These partnerships are also a rich source for ideas and inventions
that can lead to unanticipated products.
This year, when R&D Magazine included
six Livermore developments in its annual list of the 100 best new products and
processes, the awards also confirmed our
important, tangible results from recent collaborations with other organizations.
The R&D 100 Award for BASIS, the Biological
Aerosol Sentry and Information
System, exemplifies a collaboration between two national security laboratories.
BASIS is a detect-to-treat technology for countering an airborne terrorist attack.
Submitted to the competition by Los Alamos National Laboratory, it is a joint
accomplishment of Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore. This award-winning technology
is now an active element in the arsenal of defenses advanced by the Department
of Homeland Security.
One of Livermore’s missions is to develop the computational capabilities
needed to maintain the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile. Success in this
mission means continually pushing the limits of high-performance computing, and
that requires steadily improving computer-chip technology. Two of the Laboratory’s
R&D 100 awards are related to this challenge: the extreme
(EUVL) full-field step-and-scan system and the ion-beam
The EUVL full-field step-and-scan system was developed as part of the largest
Cooperative Research and Development Agreement between national laboratories
and private industry. This computer-chip lithography system writes and prints
features one-half the size of those made by other systems, leading to microprocessors
tens of times faster than today’s most powerful chips and to similar increases
in computer memory capacity.
A key challenge in developing EUVL technology
is to manufacture reticle blanks that are virtually defect-free. Ion-beam thin-film
planarization is a deposition
and etching process that smoothes the reticle surfaces as thin-film coatings
are applied. Contaminated surfaces with particles up to
70 nanometers high can be smoothed until the coating is less than 1 nanometer
high. As a result, much finer features can be written on chips.
A different type of collaboration is responsible for a new tool to measure eyesight
aberrations. The microelectromechanical systems–based adaptive optics phoropter
(MAOP) was developed in a collaboration among universities, national laboratories,
and private industry—including optical component manufacturers and a leading
provider of custom contact lenses. MAOP is an eye-correction system that significantly
improves the diagnosis and treatment of eyesight aberrations. It also has the
potential for use in treating ophthalmic and retinal disease.
The Laboratory has been a long-time leader in high-average-power lasers, and
today, lasers are increasingly used in industrial applications. Our final two
R&D 100 awards stem from Livermore’s expertise in laser technology.
The first is a thermally
which maintains the quality of
a laser beam. The Q-switch produces a system that’s more compact and efficient
than previous models. In addition, it is expected to allow laser systems to generate
5 kilowatts of average power—well beyond the capabilities
of current switches.
Metal Forming, which Livermore developed in collaboration
with Metal Improvements Company, allows manufacturers to use lasers to precisely
shape large metal sections. Because the shaped components retain the material’s
strength, this metal-forming process is an important new tool for manufacturing
stronger large shaped metal products, such as those used for aircraft components
or nuclear waste canisters.
These six R&D 100 awards demonstrate the fruition of science and technology
collaborations—with other national laboratories, universities, and private
industries. Through such partnerships, Livermore researchers are better able
to deliver the technological advances needed to strengthen the nation’s
security. These endeavors also produce innovative products and capabilities—both
the expected and the unexpected—that can benefit society.
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October 8, 2003