Michael R. Anastasio
for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Award-Winning Technology in the National Interest
LIVERMORE National Laboratory plays a vital role in our nation’s security by ensuring the safety and reliability of U.S. nuclear forces and providing analyses and technologies to further international nonproliferation goals. Because of its capabilities, the Laboratory is also assuming important responsibilities in homeland security. The successes we’ve achieved in our national and homeland security programs are due, in large measure, to our focus on mission and the Laboratory’s multidisciplinary approach to problem solving. Teams with expertise in physics, chemistry, computing, materials science, engineering, and bioscience work toward defined goals, developing innovative tools and technologies to accomplish their objectives. Many of the advances lead to unanticipated products that benefit scientific research, energy and environmental management, health care, and other areas where there are pressing national needs.
One indicator of Livermore’s technological creativity is our success over the years in garnering R&D 100 awards. Each year, R&D Magazine announces its choice of the top 100 technological advances that contribute to a national need or improve a system or service in society. Livermore earned five of these prestigious awards this year, bringing the Laboratory’s cumulative total to 102 awards. The breadth of Livermore’s technical expertise is reflected in this year’s winners, which include a pathogen detector for airborne releases of biological threat agents, a laser to neutralize land mines, software that integrates graphics applications, a safe, energy-efficient magnetically levitated train system, and a gene silencer that has potential in treating cancer and other diseases.
The Autonomous Pathogen Detection System (APDS), a follow-on to a pathogen detector that won a 2003 R&D 100 Award (see S&TR, October 2003, BASIS Counters Airborne Bioterrorism), was honored for its ability to rapidly detect airborne releases of three types of biological threat agents—bacteria, viruses, and toxins. The APDS team included researchers from six Laboratory directorates. The two consecutive awards in pathogen detection underscore the important focus on protecting our nation from a possible bioterrorist threat and the vital contributions Livermore is making to meet this need.
The software program Chromium combines graphical data from networked desktop computers to create a seamless, single image. It not only advances parallel supercomputing capabilities, but it also fosters numerous parallel visualization projects at universities and private industries. This project highlights the value of partnering with other institutions. The Livermore team collaborated with two universities and a private firm to develop the software, and more than 21,000 copies of this open-source software have already been downloaded for use.
Inductrack, a magnetically levitated train system, could provide a solution to the nation’s urban and intercity rail needs. Development teams from Livermore and General Atomics (GA) in San Diego share the award for Inductrack. GA has licensed the technology to develop a rail system for the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Technologies involving Livermore lasers have received many R&D 100 awards over the years. A novel system to uncover and neutralize land mines with a diode-pumped pulsed laser received a 2004 award. The technology for this laser originated from Livermore’s solid-state heat capacity laser, which was designed to destroy mortars and missiles in short-range battlefield defense—a technology that was honored by R&D Magazine in 2002. (See S&TR, October 2002, World’s Most Powerful Solid-State Laser.)
Livermore’s fifth R&D 100 Award was earned for a hybrid gene-silencing technology. Gene silencing by ribonucleic acid (RNA) interference keeps detrimental proteins from harming the body by limiting their expression. The new hybrid molecules, which last 10 times longer and cost half as much as conventional molecules, could allow physicians to provide an effective treatment for cancer and other human diseases.
These awards make clear the importance of Livermore’s many connections with the broad scientific and technological community as we pursue research and development to strengthen national security. Many of Livermore’s 102 R&D 100 awards have been attributable to successful partnerships with universities, other national laboratories, and private industry. These collaborations contribute to the Laboratory’s vitality, enhancing Livermore’s capabilities, generating new ideas, and leading to science and technology breakthroughs that help us in all our programs. I am proud to extend my personal congratulations to this year’s winners.
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Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Operated by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy
October 8, 2004