This month's issue of R&D Magazine celebrates the 2014 R&D 100 Award winners. Our editors also take a look at simulation software for delivering vaccines to the third world and high-speed camera.
Carbon capture and sequestration isn’t only suitable for new power plants, but more essential in retrofitting existing ones. Because of this retrofitting nature, carbon capture and sequestration is regarded by the International Energy Agency as the single technology most capable of carbon dioxide reduction in the world and could account for more than 20% of global carbon dioxide abatement by 2050.
Introducing R&D Magazine's 2014 R&D 100 Award winners. The 2014 R&D 100 Award Winners are listed below in alphabetical order by the name of the primary developer company.
Growing, harvesting and characterizing nanowires sounds like a job for an experienced researcher in a high-end laboratory. It often is. But EChem Nanowires Education Foundation Inc. has partnered with Argonne National Laboratory to bring nanowire fabrication to the classroom: The NanoFab Lab … in a Box! kit gives any student the ability to create nanowires and includes everything needed for the process, except the chemicals.
In lithography, polymer “resists” are applied as a thin, continuous layer over material that is to be patterned. The resist is patterned, then removed after the pattern is duplicated on the silicon underneath. However, smaller patterns demand thinner resists, which can’t survive plasma patterning. Sequential Infiltration Synthesis (SIS) Lithography, developed by Argonne National Laboratory and implemented in industrial settings by several industry leaders, gives the resist the ability to withstand plasma etching.
Crystalline silicon has continued to lead the market in the worldwide adoption of solar energy with over 85% market share. Much of this growth has happened in the past few years. Photovoltaic modules have dropped in price to below $1/W due to massive vertical integration largely driven by Chinese manufacturers. However, the cost to manufacture panels has not scaled down, resulting in losses for manufacturers. Crystal Solar Inc.’s Direct Gas to Wafer Epitaxial System, developed with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, is designed to help reduce these costs by increasing throughput.
The semiconductor industry is starting to adopt rapid processes that require pressure values processed in as little as 0.5 msec, yet produce low noise. This performance is needed to build chips that generate less heat, run cooler and need less cooling resources. Speed and noise improvements, available in INFICON’s new Stripe CDG capacitive diaphragm gauge, fulfill the requirements of this next level of structure reduction in the process industry.
The key step in the LED manufacturing process is the epitaxial growth of quantum well active layers on a wafer substrate using technology such as metal-organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD). The characterization of the resulting “epi” wafer is typically done by the “indium dot” method, a slow and largely manual method that involves injecting current into dot electrodes that test the wafer, but also damages it. Bruker Nano Surfaces has an alternative.
Sandia National Laboratories’ Goma 6.0 is software for numerical simulation of multiphysics continuum processes, including moving geometry, phase-change, fluid-structural interactions, complex rheology and chemical reactions. It solves the fundamental equations of mass, momentum, energy and chemical species transport using the finite element method (FEM), which can be described by partial differential equations.
Modeling and simulation is standard practice in nearly every scientific field. Idaho National Laboratory’s Multiphysics Object Oriented Simulation Environment (MOOSE) has transformed approaches to predictive simulation, making it quick, adaptable and more accessible. MOOSE is a computer software that can be loaded onto most UNIX-compliant operating systems including, but not limited to, Mac OS X, Ubuntu, OpenSuSE, Fedora, CentOS and Redhat.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory has developed iSPM: Intelligent Software Suite for Personalized Modeling of Expert Opinions, Decisions and Errors in Visual Examination Tasks, a novel technology utilizing eye-tracking hardware, an intelligent GUI engine and advanced analytics to predict an individual’s perceptual behavior, cognitive response and risk of error for complex decision tasks such as cancer diagnosis from medical images.
Mapping of the human genome has advanced our understanding of life, health and potential cures for diseases. Many technologies could benefit from genome-level investigations. Now, a disruptive virtual scientific simulation tool that delivers a genome-level investigation for electrolytes is available. Idaho National Laboratory’s Kevin Gering has developed the Advanced Electrolyte Model (AEM), a molecular-based, scientifically proven simulation tool.
MIT Lincoln Laboratory’s Airborne Sense and Avoid (ABSAA) Radar Panel is a stepped-notch antenna array that marks a substantial advance in the fabrication of wide-bandwidth radar systems for use aboard unmanned aerial systems (UAS). The panel provides high performance by incorporating multifunction radio-frequency integrated circuits using a commercially available, high-volume silicon germanium (SiGe) 0.13-μm foundry process.
Chemochromic pigments can be very robust hydrogen leak indicators due to their highly visible, long-term stability and reliable chemical reactions between the pigments and hydrogen. However, their implementation is often difficult because of environmental interference and gas permeability of the host materials. Patented research from the Univ. of Central Florida, NASA John F. Kennedy Space Center and HySense Technology LLC solves the known issues by combining a palladium-oxide chemochromic pigment in a novel silicon matrix that is environmentally resistant while being hydrogen permeable.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists have developed a new polishing system capable of finishing flat and spherical glass optics in a single iteration, regardless of the workpieces’ initial shape. Convergent Polishing: Rapid, Simple, Low Cost Finishing of High Quality Glass Optics is able to “converge” several steps because factors contributing to non-uniform spatial material removal on the workpiece have been eliminated and the creation of rogue particles within the polisher system have been removed.
Efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions will factor heavily into engine development by OEMs, and this will be accomplished in large part from the reduction of internal friction. Daimler AG has made a significant advance in this area with the introduction of NANOSLIDE, an innovative coating for cylinder running surfaces of combustion engines to reduce CO2 emissions, which allows for the use of lighter crankshafts and reduces friction losses in the piston assembly.
The recent development of a new class of ionic liquid electrolytes has allowed the development of the Portable Aluminum Deposition System (PADS) by Oak Ridge National Laboratory and United Technologies Research Center. The breakthrough liquid formulation was achieved, in part, by the use of hydrophobic neutral ligands, which considerably increased the air stability of the plating electrolytes.
Mitsubishi Electric Corp.’s MELFA-3D Vision system for industrial robot arms completely automates bin-picking tasks. A projector creates multiple slit patterns that are projected on the piled parts, which are captured with the camera. A depth map is reconstructed by using the captured images and a structured-light decoding algorithm.
A deeper understanding of microstructure-mechanical property correlations to processing conditions is sought by many industries. Hysitron Inc.’s xSol High Temperature Stage is a new platform that supports this effort, allowing researchers to make high-resolution nanomechanical measurements over a broad temperature range.
By 2025, the automotive industry is required to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emission by at least 30% while reducing pollutant emissions by a factor of three. For decades, efforts to meet ever-increasing standards like this have depended on a thorough understanding of Otto cycle dynamics in internal combustion engines and development of ways to change emissions through exhaust gas recirculation (EGR). Toward this goal, Dedicated-EGR (D-EGR) by Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) goes to new lengths by “dedicating” a separately controlled cylinder that is allowed to run rich.
Industrial conveying and handling machines typically use expensive permanent magnet synchronous drives (“servo”) or cheaper induction motors equipped with brakes and clutches. Induction motors, because of their design, suffer from efficiency losses. Servo drives, meanwhile, are seen as less durable because they are equipped with sensitive encoders and extra wiring. Engineers at Mitsubishi Electric Corp. have eliminated the worst features of both designs with the Sensor-less Servo Drive Unit FR-E700EX Series and Sensor-less Motor MM-GKR, which controls speed or position without the need for an encoder.
Applications such as silicon wafer alignment or bio‐cell manipulations require fast and accurate positioning within a few millimeters working range. Widely used piezoelectric (PZT) actuators, however, have displacement ranges limited to hundreds of micrometers. Displacement-amplification techniques such as “inchworm” clamping have been introduced, but suffer from poor motion repeatability, low payload and low speed. This has produced a challenge for the precision engineering industry that has been met by the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech) with the introduction of its Flexure‐based Electromagnetic Linear Actuator (FELA).
Corrosion, denting, abrasive wear and fatigue often lead to life-limiting bearing and gear failure in harsh conditions. Existing materials, such as hard steels, are prone to corrosion and rust; ceramics are non-conductive, difficult to manufacture and brittle; and superalloys are soft and susceptible to wear and damage. Working with Abbott Ball Company, NASA’s Glenn Research Center has successfully developed a set of methods to create high-performance alternatives to conventional bearing materials.
Thermal fatigue is one of the most important properties in materials used as automobile’s exhaust parts, particularly near the hotter manifold section. When the exhaust gas passes through these parts, they thermally expand or shrink. But they can’t do this freely because of surrounding parts, which leads them to deform or fracture. The solution has long been to add molydenum to the ferritic heat-resistant stainless steels typically used for automobile exhausts. JFE Steel Corp., however, has achieved resistance to thermal fatigue fracture without the use of high-cost molydenum in its JFE-TF1 steel.
Roughly one million workers today are required to wear protective, fire-resistant (FR) garments in the U.S. However, because these protective garments are often heavy and uncomfortable, workers are reluctant to wear them and burn accidents are still commonplace. The iQ Series Comfort Knit Amplitude G2 Flame Resistant Fabric from Milliken & Company and Bulwark FR was designed to combine comfort with strong FR characteristics. It provides flash fire and arc flash protection while delivering three comfort attributes: lighter weight, breathability and moisture management.
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