From tracking supply chain management at big box stores, to tollway systems, to monitoring nuclear material packages in facilities and during shipments, radio frequency identification (RFID) technology has quietly reshaped our world.
RFID technology, used to record the presence of an object passively using radio waves, has quickly become a mainstay of sensing, for everything from inventory control to sporting events. Now, a pioneer of RFID has been recognized by RFID Journal for his work in developing a special kind of RFID technology that has transformed nuclear monitoring and security for the past 15 years.
Yung Liu, a nuclear engineer at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, received the Special Achievement Award from RFID Journal for his work, in partnership with his program manager, DOE’s James Shuler, developing and deploying the ARG-US Remote Monitoring Systems Technology.
ARG-US works by using active RFID sensor surveillance tags in drum-type packages for storage or transportation.
Since 2010, five DOE laboratories and sites (Argonne, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, Savannah River Site and Nevada National Security Site) have acquired the ARG-US RFID system for field-testing and applications.
Having the ability to manage nuclear material using RFID increases the security of essential environmental management operations moving nuclear fuel from one location to another, Liu said.
Liu’s work in RFID began in 2005. Trained as a nuclear engineer, Liu saw the value of using RFID to help secure shipments of nuclear material. “We are the transportation packaging people,” he said. “If we could come up with a unique identification device, such as an RFID tag with sensors, it would be easy for people to know and manage what is inside a package containing nuclear material.”
Since that time, Liu has overseen a number of innovations in RFID. “There have been breakthroughs in terms of the sensors, in terms of the power supply and in terms of the communication systems,” he said. “The potential of the ARG-US remote monitoring systems technology gets better with each passing year.”
According to Liu, RFID is currently merging into the mainstream of the Internet of Things, in which a broad suite of sensors in all kinds of monitoring systems are connected to computing.
Liu’s work in RFID has resulted in four patents and eight software copyrights and roughly 50 publications co-authored with his Argonne teams over the years.
The ARG-US technology has been licensed to U.S. companies and has been made commercially available. “The whole point of developing new technology is that it needs to be useful, usable and used,” Liu said. “Those have been the goals of my research since the beginning.”
Liu’s work is funded by DOE’s Office of Environmental Management.
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 https://energy.gov/science.