3M Company is known for its innovative products, and that’s reflected in the Minnesota-based company’s substantial number of R&D 100 Awards wins over the years. 3M was one of R&D Magazine’s very first winners, getting an Award for an electrical curing concept in 1963. But not all of 3M’s awards for adhesives and coatings; the company was at the forefront of new innovations for the information age.
More than 100 million gallons of cutting fluid is used each year in the U.S. to protect wet...
This month's issue of R&D Magazine celebrates the 2013 R&D 100 Award winners....
Called the "Oscars of Invention", the R&D 100 Awards recognize and celebrate the top 100 technology products of the year. The R&D 100 Awards banquet is scheduled for Nov. 7, 2013 at the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld. Read on to learn more about the Awards banquet and Awards presentation.
Developers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have introduced the Movie Mode Dynamic Transmission Electron Microscope (MM-DTEM), which can capture an in situ multiframe movie that reveals a complex sequence of nanoscale events with frame rates over 100,000 times faster than those of conventional techniques. MM-DTEM is based on a TEM that has been modified to include two pulsed lasers, the sample drive laser and the cathode laser.
Among the deposition techniques available to developers of thin-film material, ion beam sputtering is highly valued for its ability to provide excellent layer thickness control, enhanced process stability and low optical losses. Veeco Instruments Inc. builds on this reputation with the industry’s first fully automated ion beam sputtering tool, the SPECTOR-HT Ion Beam Deposition System.
The semiconductor industry has provided developers with a set of tools to create sub-micrometer 2-D electronics. However, development of complex 3-D sub-micrometer-scale structures have been hampered by the lack of equipment that isn’t oriented to 2-D constructs. Developers at Sandia National Laboratories believe that their Membrane Projection Lithography (MPL) technology bridges the gap by allowing the creation of micrometer-scale 3-D metallo-dielectric structures using standard microfabrication materials and equipment.
Silicon is the material of choice for most semiconductor applications, but experts have also long recognized an end point for silicon-based technology because of high-temperature degradation and limited electron mobility at increasingly small feature sizes. Diamond is among the next-generation wide band gap (WBG) semiconductor platforms under investigation. However, its superior performance comes at great cost. Argonne National Laboratory and AKHAN Technologies Inc. have developed an alternative called the Miraj Diamond Platform.
Electrostatic charging can be an annoyance at the macroscale; but in development of ion- and electron-optical devices, as well as microelectromechanical systems, this phenomenon can be severely detrimental to performance. In response, Argonne National Laboratory and KLA-Tencor Inc. have designed thin films that can prevent electrostatic charge from accumulating on virtually any surface.
Computers process information quickly, but they perform sequentially. Because clock speeds have stalled, future performance gains come almost solely from running sets of instructions concurrently. This will force fundamental changes for all computer components, making co-design (collaborative, simultaneous development of all system components) essential. Developed by a team led by Sandia National Laboratories, Mantevo Suite 1.0 is a promising approach to co-design.
Modern, large-scale science requires high-bandwidth, reliable networks that interconnect globally distributed instruments, facilities and collaborators, allowing them to function as if they are one system in one location. This isn’t always possible, so to ensure that scientists can reliably meet the time-critical needs of their research, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) developed the On-demand Secure Circuits and Advance Reservation System (OSCARS) 0.6.
Structured Knowledge Space (SKS), developed by MIT Lincoln Laboratory, is an end-to-end software system developed to answer a question that has frustrated national security decision makers: “How do we take advantage of the enormous amounts of information communicated daily through a wide variety of reporting venues?”
Federal and local agencies have identified solar glare reflected from photovoltaic (PV) modules as a potentially significant health and safety hazard, resulting in new policies and regulations to prevent adverse impacts of glare from these solar energy installations. However, none of the time-consuming conventional tools that predict where and when glare will occur can predict visual impacts. Sandia National Laboratories has developed a Web-based Solar Glare Hazard Analysis Tool (SGHAT) that addresses these new regulations.
In current practice, explosives screening is conducted manually, visually, by swabbing, and through x-ray inspections. These non-covert approaches can be time-consuming, and they are often unable to cover all individuals and objects in large public. MIT Lincoln Laboratory has developed a promising new technology that remotely detects trace explosives material from significant standoff distances (100 m).
The Earth’s upper atmosphere is under bombardment by cosmic radiation that produces showers of pions, which rapidly decay into a constant flux of muons (some 200 m2/sec) that shower objects on Earth. Since the muon angular trajectory changes as a function of the density and atomic weight of the material traversed, a unique “signature” for the substance can be developed. The ability to identify distinct material density enables the Multi-Mode Passive Detection System (MMPDS), developed by Decision Sciences International Corp. and Los Alamos National Laboratory, to quickly detect unshielded to heavily shielded nuclear threats, as well as gamma rays, with near-zero false alarms.
Many high-speed printing technologies rely on the use of water-based inks, which are resource-intensive to produce and complicate the printing through the necessary drying process. They are also susceptible to migration as they dry, creating fuzziness. Xerox Innovation Group has created a solid, or waterless, ink technology that it has implemented in the Xerox CiPress 325 Production Inkjet System.
Many metal alloys feature the addition of rare earth elements to improve surface properties at high temperature. Material Interface Inc. has exploited this approach as part of its development of the Minimox Self-Protective Alloy Treatment.
The U.S.’s nearly 1 million restaurants typically use five times more energy per square foot than other commercial buildings. One approach to helping these businesses operate more efficiently is to combine the building’s air-conditioning and water-heating systems. The Rheem H2AC Rooftop Unit featuring eSync Integration Technology is a combined technology from a single manufacturer, Rheem, which allows water to be heated from waste heat generated by an air-conditioning unit.
Copper alloys provide optimal conductivity applications that require high levels of electrical energy. But these metals suffer from surface damage, such as gouges and abrasions, from strong magnetic fields. A coating of molybdenum or tantalum offers adequate protection, but these metals differ from copper in toughness, thermal conductivity, refractory expansion coefficient and other properties. Developers at Materials & Electrochemical Research (MER) Corp. have engineered a solution.
JFE Steel Corp. has used a recently developed engineering method called strain-based design (SBD) to elevate the deformation strength of its HIPER linepipes and produce even greater strength combined with low weight.
The Multi-Pass Branching Microchannel Cold Plate from Toyota Research Institute of North America is an example of a single-phase, liquid-cooled heat sink, but this new design couples two coolers in parallel, allowing it to handle 24 large-area high-heat flux power semiconductor devices.
Until now, users had to choose between unmanned and manned underwater vehicles to aid in research. However, Proteus, developed by Battelle Memorial Institute, Bluefin Robotics Corp., and The Columbia Group, Engineering Solutions Div., offers both modes in a single, submersible platform.
Disc brakes are standard issue on most vehicles these days. But not all discs, or rotors, are made equal. In addition to size, brake rotors can perform differently based on the type of material used in their construction. PureForge brake rotors, designed by PureForge are engineered to improve braking effectiveness in law enforcement vehicles by adopting a new forging process.
High Performance Electrostatic Comb-drive Micro-Actuators developed by the Univ. of Michigan make use of fundamentally new flexure mechanisms for actuator guidance, which mitigates sideways instability in electrostatic comb-drive actuators.
Humans are designed to grasp well; but repetitive, high-force gripping can result in long-term discomfort or injury. For example, an assembly operator in a factory might need to use 15 to 20 lbs of force to hold a tool for a task. NASA’s Johnson Space Center, General Motors and Oceaneering Space Systems have partnered to design a solution: the Robo-Glove.
Radial winding motors are common devices in a variety of electronic products, from micropumps to electronic locks. Mounted on a printed circuit board (PCB), the motors offer performance based on the thickness of their coils. Traditional designs experience power loss when less than 3 mm thick, a disadvantage that limits design possibilities. Engineers at Metal Industries Research and Development Centre have introduced a new axial flux motor design in its Coin Type Motor.
Electrical motors, especially those which feature an airgap as part of their circuit design, all suffer from magnetic flux leakage within their magnetic circuit paths. When necessary, engineers compensate for these effects by installing rare earth magnets, optimizing stator and rotor structural configurations and adjusting electronic controller firing schemes. However, these measures are applicable to only some types of electric machines. Developers at the Industrial Technology Research Institute sought to address this issue with a solution for all motor types.
Orthocare Innovations has introduced a new technology that is intended to enhance limb control for those who rely on prosthetic ankles and feet. The Magellan MFA (Magellan Microprocessor Foot Ankle System) is a computer-controlled foot-ankle prosthesis capable of adapting to a user’s activities through a 38-degree range of motion.
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