Four technologies developed by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory have received this year’s R&D 100 awards.
The awards, organized by R&D magazine, have been given out annually since 1962 for the top technologies of the year and are widely considered to be the “Oscars of Innovation.”
“Congratulations to this year’s R&D 100 award winners,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “The research and development at the Department of Energy’s laboratories continues to help the nation meet our energy challenges, strengthen our national security and improve our economic competitiveness.”
This year’s winners from Argonne (with team leaders in italics) are:
- Globus Online: Ian Foster, Director, Computation Institute.
- High-Energy Concentration-Gradient Cathode Material for Plug-in Hybrids and All-Electric Vehicles: Khalil Amine, Senior Materials Scientist and Group Leader, Chemical Sciences and Engineering Division.
- Large Area Microchannel Plates: Jeffrey Elam, Principal Chemist and Group Leader, Energy Systems Division.
- Ultra-Fast and Large-Scale Boriding: Ali Erdemir, Argonne Distinguished Fellow, Energy Systems Division.
“We are very proud that Argonne’s world-class researchers are once again so well-represented among the R&D 100,” said Eric D. Isaacs, director of Argonne. “This year’s awards underscore the exceptional range of Argonne’s scientific initiatives, as well as our continuing success in converting discovery science into innovative, high-impact products, processes and systems.”
Globus Online addresses a central problem in the emerging world of big data research: moving large quantities of information reliably, efficiently and securely among the data centers, scientific facilities, research laboratories, and supercomputing sites where data are produced, transformed, stored and consumed.
Researchers at Argonne and the Computation Institute at the University of Chicago designed Globus Online to address the specific needs of the research community. Researchers with minimal IT expertise can use Globus Online literally in minutes to move large scientific data sets reliably and quickly among large scientific facilities (such as supercomputing centers and high energy physics experiments), cloud storage providers, campus systems, and personal computers. Globus Online requires no software installation by the user unless data are to be moved to or from a local computer; it provides an intuitive web interface that greatly simplifies what is often a complex and time-consuming process.
High-Energy Concentration-Gradient Cathode Material for Plug-in Hybrids and All-Electric Vehicles
All other things being equal, the energy density of a lithium‐ion (Li-ion) battery depends on the capacity of the cathode material in each cell and the number of cells in the battery. To meet the extremely high energy-density requirement of the Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf, for example, a battery manufacturer must either develop a high‐capacity cathode or compensate for a low cathode capacity by greatly increasing the number of cells, even though doing so makes the overall battery larger and heavier.
Argonne and several partners have developed a novel high-energy and high-power cathode material for use in Li-ion batteries especially suited for plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and all-electric vehicles (EVs). This material provides much higher energy and longer life than any other Li-ion cathode material, and as such is also ideal for batteries in hybrid vehicles and a wide range of consumer electronics applications.
The new cathode material allows battery pack size to shrink significantly both at the individual cell level and through a reduction in the number of cells needed in the battery pack, thus achieving a significant reduction in overall battery cost.
Large Area Microchannel Plates
Microchannel plate (MCP) detectors are a critical technology for a wide variety of imaging and sensing applications ranging from medicine and physics to national security. The Argonne technology improves advanced imaging and sensing technologies by offering a means to fabricate larger area, higher performance and more robust MCP-based detectors at a significantly lower cost.
In medicine, imaging cameras such as Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanners help doctors to provide early and accurate detection of the onset and progression of diseases. For national security purposes, flat-panel neutron detectors could be used to screen shipping containers or trucks for nuclear materials. In the scientific community, particle detectors are essential to advancing large-scale, high energy physics experiments. Furthermore, MCPs are a critical component in the image intensifiers used by the military and law enforcement as well as in scientific research.
Ultra-Fast and Large-Scale Boriding
Argonne’s ultra-fast and large-scale boriding process is a green, efficient industrial-scale boriding process that can drastically reduce costs, increase productivity, and improve the performance and reliability of machine components, such as engine tappets, agricultural knife guards, pump seals, and valves. This new process increases surface hardness of these components by factors of 3 to 10.
The boriding process quickly converts the outer surfaces of metallic parts and components into a hard, thick boride layer that dramatically increases resistance to wear, abrasion, erosion, scuffing and corrosion.
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.
DOE’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, please visit science.energy.gov