Argonne National Laboratory

Argonne researchers win three 2016 R&D 100 Awards

November 8, 2016

Innovative technologies developed by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Argonne National Laboratory and their partners earned three R&D 100 Awards on Thursday, November 3.

The awards, organized by R&D magazine, are given out annually for the top technologies of the year, at the R&D 100 Awards and Technology Conference. The awards are widely considered to be the "Oscars of Innovation," a moniker coined by the Chicago Tribune. Argonne scientists have won 128 R&D 100 awards since they were first introduced in 1964.

This year’s winners that include researchers from Argonne are:

“All of us at Argonne are proud of the accomplished scientists and engineers who have been recognized by the R&D 100 Awards,” said Argonne Director Peter B. Littlewood. “These pioneers represent the innovative and multidisciplinary spirit that drives our lab in meeting its mission, and we are pleased to see them breaking new ground.”

“These pioneers represent the innovative and multidisciplinary spirit that drives our lab in meeting its mission, and we are pleased to see them breaking new ground.” 


Hard X-ray Scanning Microscope with Multilayer Laue Lens Nanofocusing Optics

The Hard X-Ray Scanning Microscope with Multilayer Laue Lens Nanofocusing Optics is a high-throughput scientific imaging tool that routinely provides sub-20-nanometer spatial resolution imaging. The sub-20-nanometer imaging resolution was achieved by using the Multilayer Laue Lens (MLL) optics for focusing and by implementing a state-of-the-art, ultra-stable piezo-based positioning system coupled with active interferometric feedback control, the combination of which provides unprecedented vibrational stability (better than 2 nanometers at all frequencies) and long-term thermal drifts better than 2 nanometers per hour. This novel MLL-based vacuum-compatible microscope is a general-purpose X-ray microscopy tool that is suitable for a broad range of imaging experiments. For example, the following imaging techniques are currently supported: X-ray fluorescence, ptychography, diffraction, differential phase contrast, and X-ray absorption spectroscopy. The system is installed at the Hard X-ray Nanoprobe beamline at the National Synchrotron Light Source II facility at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

The principal investigators are Evgeny Nazaretski, Yong Chu and others from Brookhaven National Laboratory as well as Deming Shu, senior engineer for nanopositioning with Argonne’s X-ray Science Division.

NekCEM/Nek5000: Scalable High-Order Simulation Codes

NekCEM/Nek5000: Release 4.0: Scalable High-Order Simulation Codes is an open-source simulation-software package that delivers highly accurate solutions for a wide range of scientific applications including electromagnetics, quantum optics, fluid flow, thermal convection, combustion and magnetohydrodynamics. It features state-of-the-art, scalable, high-order algorithms that are fast and efficient on platforms ranging from laptops to the world’s fastest computers. The size of the physical phenomena that can be simulated with this package ranges from quantum dots for nanoscale devices to accretion disks surrounding black holes. NekCEM provides simulation capabilities for the analysis of electromagnetic and quantum optical devices, such as particle accelerators and solar cells. Nek5000 provides turbulent flow simulation capabilities for a variety of thermal-fluid problems including nuclear reactors, internal combustion engines, vascular flows, and ocean currents.

The principal investigators are Misun Min, lead investigator and computational scientist with Argonne’s Mathematics and Computer Science Division, and Paul Fischer with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Porous Nano-Network Catalyst

Argonne’s Porous Nano-Network Catalyst revolutionizes the non-precious metal catalyst design and synthesis simultaneously at the active site and electrode architecture levels. It offers the highest possible active site density and significantly improves charge and mass transfers using low-cost chemicals and earthly abundant materials. The catalysts are demonstrated to be highly effective toward oxygen reduction reaction, a key electrochemical reaction at the fuel cell cathode, in both acidic and basic environments, making it applicable to both proton exchange membrane and alkaline membrane fuel cells. The new catalyst outperforms the best benchmarked nonprecious metal catalyst by 76 percent and approaches carbon-supported platinum in acidic media, and outperforms carbon-supported platinum in alkaline media in both activity and durability. It also led to 20 to 25 times cost saving in the catalyst material, rendering it an attractive and viable replacement for the expensive precious metal catalysts in practical fuel cell applications.

The principal investigator is Di-Jia Liu, a senior chemist with Argonne’s Chemical Sciences and Engineering Division.

One entry included researchers from Argonne and was named a 2016 R&D 100 finalist, but did not win:

Highly Sensitive Sensor for Distributed Methane Leak Detection

This product is a low-cost, low-power, highly sensitive methane-sensing device for pinpointing 2 parts per million levels of methane leaks in ambient air.

The principal investigators are Ralu Divan, chemist, and Liliana Stan, senior engineer, both with Argonne’s Nanoscience and Technology Division; Igor Paprotny and Md Tanim Humayun, with University of Illinois-Chicago; Lara Gundel with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Paul A. Solomon with the  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; and Melissa Lunden with Aclima, Inc.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation's first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America's scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit the Office of Science website.