Portfolio News and Webcast

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The Value of International Collaboration

At a time when international cooperation can offer significant benefits, the cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) signed between Argon Electronics UK Ltd and LLNL to utilize Livermore’s Radiation Field Training Simulator (RaFTS) technology, promises to both bolster and re-envision the delivery of realistic hands-on CBRNe training.

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Micropower Impulse Radar History: A 25-year DOE success story

Stephen Azevedo developed a presentation about LLNL's micropower impulse radar (MIR) development, applied science and industrial licensing. This exciting project was done in conjunction with IPO for the NNSA Strategic Partnership Program and highlighted at the Smithsonian's Military Invention Day.

Instruments, Sensors, and Electronics Technologies

LLNL's high fidelity hydrocode is capable of predicting blast loads and directly coupling those loads to structures to predict a mechanical response. By combining this code and our expertise in modeling blast-structure interaction and damage, along with our access to experimental data and testing facilities, we can contribute to the design of protective equipment that can better mitigate the biological effects of blast.

LLNL has investigated two types of sensors to quantify the blast environment, which will help medical personnel diagnose the severity of injuries and triage patients. Both sensor designs are small and lightweight. One new sensor uses a tiny microelectromechanical gauge and the other is an inexpensive, disposable, and easily replaceable plastic cylinder. Each…

LLNL scientists have developed a radiation detection network that uses solid state detectors (e.g. CZT) coupled to cellular telephones. Detection of gamma and/or neutron radiation is possible with high sensitivity. A network of cellular phones GPS locations and their detection data can be correlated for real-time analysis of potential nuclear threats.

LLNL is developing a highly-sensitive compact Compton imaging technology with excellent energy resolution, good imaging performance and large field-of-view. This system is built of large-volume and high-resolution Si(Li) and HPGe detectors. These detectors are built in double-sided strip configurations providing excellent three-dimensional position resolution. The system can measure individual gamma-ray interactions and determine interaction sequences through gamma-ray tracking algorithms.

The LLNL approach uses both the electric and magnetic components of an electromagnetic wave, which provides information about the direction of wave emanation as well as the flux of energy in the wave. This new, potentially portable technology is intended to identify and locate low-frequency electromagnetic noise sources in order to take off-line or quickly isolate and repair the interfering electrical/electronic equipment operating in buildings, factories and large commercial facilities. The technology will also have application relating to locating general EM signal sources having frequencies falling within the operational bandwidth of the receiver.

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LLNL has developed a new method for increasing lifetime in quantum coherent devices.
LLNL has developed a method of extending device lifetimes by imprinting into the device a shape that excludes specific vibrational modes, otherwise known as a phononic bandgap. Eliminating these modes prevents one of the primary energy loss pathways in these devices. LLNL’s new method enhances the coherence of superconducting circuits by introducing a phononic bandgap around the system’s operating frequency.
LLNL is seeking industry partners to collaborate on quantum science and technology research and development in the following areas: quantum-coherent device physics, quantum materials, quantum–classical interfaces, computing and simulation, and sensing and detection.

To solve these challenges using new and existing CT system designs, LLNL has developed an innovative software package for CT data processing and reconstruction. Livermore Tomography Tools (LTT) is a modern integrated software package that includes all aspects of CT modeling, simulation, reconstruction, and analysis algorithms based on the latest research in the field. LTT contains the most expansive and recently published CT data preprocessing and reconstruction algorithms available.

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Recent advancements in additive manufacturing, also called 3D printing, allow precise placement of materials in three dimensions. LLNL researchers have invented mechanical logic gates based on flexures that can be integrated into the microstructure of a micro-architected material through 3D printing. The logic gates can be combined into circuits allowing complex logic operations to be performed within the structure of the material itself without electrical input.

LLNL's Center for Engineered Materials and Manufacturing has recently demonstrated the ability to control the microarchitecture of materials with feature sizes down to 10 microns. With these techniques, it may be possible to design mechanical logic circuits into the microstructure of a material creating so-…

LLNL's 3D X-ray imager combines two different hardware pieces. The first is an x-ray optic with a depth-of-field that is small compared to the object under investigation. Reflective Wolter type x-ray optics are one such design. These hollow optics have a relatively large collection efficiency and can be designed with a large field of view. The depth of focus, which is the distance over which a feature can be resolved along the imaging direction, is relatively small for these optics, typically small compared to the field of view. These optics have been used extensively in x-ray astronomy and in some cases for x-ray microscopy. The short depth of field distance is often considered a drawback to the design. However, when combined with a three-dimensional x-ray detector, it is possible to…

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LLNL researchers have designed and tested performance characteristics for a multichannel pyrometer that works in the NIR from 1200 to 2000 nm. A single datapoint without averaging can be acquired in 14 microseconds (sampling rate of 70,000/s). In conjunction with a diamond anvil cell, the system still works down to about 830K.

LLNL researchers have developed a broadband heterodyne detection system that incorporates several significant improvements that move the state of the art toward quantum noise limited performance. The design comprises of an optical element that increases the intensity of the incoming light on the detector by a factor exceeding 50x. It is based on the properties of surface plasmons in interaction with optical diffraction structures or gratings. LLNL’s approach does not rely on a resonance phenomenon making it suitable for applications such as infrared cameras as well as spectrometers.

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Monolithic Telescopes are a novel implementation of a solid catadioptric design form, instantiated in a monolithic block of fused silica.

LLNL has developed a reference electrode that is a great improvement on the widely used silver or platinum wire QRE commonly used in electrochemistry in ionic liquids. This new reference electrode, based on a silver-sulfide coated silver wire, exhibits greatly improved stability over a QRE. The stability of our RE approaches that of the Ag/Ag+ RE, but unlike the Ag/Ag+ RE, the RE reported here is not sensitive to light and can be made and used without a glovebox. Additionally, to the best of our knowledge, the long-term stability of our RE is far superior to any RE reported in the ionic liquid literature.

LLNL's Ag/Ag2S reference electrode can be used in non-aqueous electrochemistry work to provide a stable reference potential throughout multi-day measurements with minimal…

LLNL's method of equivalent time sampling incorporates an embedded system that generates the pulses used to trigger the external circuit and the data acquisition (DAQ). This removes the external reference clock, allowing the overall system clock rate to change based on the ability of the embedded system. The time delays needed to create the time stepping for equivalent time sampling is done by using 3 COTS digital delay chips wired in series. Each chip can perform 10ps steps over a 10 ns of sweep time resulting in a total sweep time over 30 ns and a cycle-to-cycle jitter of 6 ps. The delay chips are programmed through the embedded system's general purpose IO.

Each unit contains one embedded system and one delay generator board. The module can operate in two different modes as…

There are three main components to the RaFTS system: 1) the radiation detector, which can be of any type and from any manufacturer; 2) the RaFTS electronics, which produce the electronic pulses that are injected into the electronics of the radiation detector through a (to be) standardized port interface; and 3) the exercise scenario, which defines the synthetic radiation field and time-varying radioactivity concentrations/signal rates throughout the exercise area. The result is the detector system responds as if real sources are present and located at specific locations or are dispersed over specific areas in the training exercise. As a function of the distance between the detector and those simulated source locations, the RaFTS’s signal injection rate adjusts according to realistic…

LLNL researchers have developed a high-speed, tightly-packed array of micro-mirrors capable of rapidly (>40 kHz) directing light over large angles (>10°) in two axes-tip and tilt-with continuous closed-loop motion control.

LLNL's TTP micro-mirror array design contains a number of unique features that enable its high performance. These features are generated from the application of precise constraint in the design of the flexures linking the mirror components together. Three flexural structures are utilized in the design, i) mirror guide flexures, ii) decoupling transmission flexures, and iii) actuator guide flexures.

All of these flexures are designed to only allow the desired degrees of freedom (DOF). The structure does not have any extra degrees of freedom, so…

LLNL’s Optically-based Interstory Drift Meter System provides a means to accurately measure the dynamic interstory drift of a vibrating building (or other structure) during earthquake shaking. This technology addresses many of the shortcomings associated with traditional strong motion accelerometer based building monitoring.

LLNL’s discrete diode position sensitive device is a newly designed and performance validated position sensitive device based on a two dimensional array of discrete diodes that allows the location of an impinging laser beam to be very accurately tracked as the beam moves back and forth across the diode array. This allows accurate, dynamic measurements of the interstory drift between two floor levels of a shaking building. Interstory drift is a fundamental…

This invention suggests to reduce the noise in Q-bits and other low-noise electronic and superconducting devises devices by synthesizing special materials where several classes of fluctuators (two-level systems) are excluded (or, their number is substantially reduced) both in the volume of materials and on the boundaries and interfaces. This invention also suggests materials with low number of disorder and internal degrees of freedom, or number of internal states in the material accessible at low temperatures. This invention suggests also how practical devises (SQUIDs, resonators, Q-bits, etc) and systems can be produced out of this materials without introducing new fluctuators in the process.

A key element of this invention is the recognition that all life-important chemical interaction is situated in the mid-to-far infrared energy range. LLNL’s Infrared (IR) Photon-Sensitive Spectromicroscopy invention is a system designed to suppress thermal radiation background and to allow IR single photon-sensitive spectromicroscopy of small samples by using absorption, reflection, and emission/luminescence measurements.

LLNL researchers are developing a battery-powered molecular diagnostic (MDx) platform for biothreat and public health agent identification. LLNL researchers developed isothermal molecular diagnostic assays to detect and identify DNA from pathogenic bacteria, including E. coli, known to cause UTI’s and sepsis. Detection of the bacterial DNA does not require technically challenging DNA isolation and purification.

Additional technical information can be found in the Journal of Microbiological Methods published article, Detection of Bacillus anthracis from spores and cells by loop-mediated isothermal…

The LLNL detector measures radiation over a large dynamic range, spanning both high hazardous levels and weak levels, including natural background radiation. In weak radiation fields, the detector also measures gamma-ray spectra. The cost of the detector is significantly less than the total cost of existing separate detectors that could perform the same measurements.

The technology that is available has the capability to inject realistic radiation detection spectra into the amplifier of a radiation detector and produce the all the observables that are available with that radiation detection instrument; count-rate, spectrum, dose rate, etc.

The system uses the capability of LLNL to generate the source output for virtually any source and determine the flux from that source at any point in the area of a training exercise. Based on the location of a participant in the exercise the appropriate count rate and spectrum is generated and injected into the amplifier of the radiation detection device at that specific location. Thus, this system can generate and use both distributed sources and point sources for any isotope or mixtures of isotopes…

The technology involves a portable source of low energy neutrons that can be transported easily to field sites, quickly set-up and operated to detect the presence of fissionable materials. The source makes use of low-voltage, pulsed-RF acceleration to obtain energetic particles useful in nuclear reactions that produce low energy neutrons. Small amounts of uranium respond strongly to low energy neutrons. Low energy consumption and small size (approximately the size of a standard refrigerator) make the unit portable. Standard electronics support the detection system.

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This technology provides algorithms that accurately localize small-arm-fire by tracking bullets from high-powered weapons, automatic rifles, rocket propelled grenades (RPGs), mortars, and similar projectiles. The software integrates commercially available infrared video cameras, processes raw imagery data, detects and tracks projectiles, and determines the location of the shooters within error bounds. The technique and algorithms have been shown to be resistant to optical clutter.

LLNL has developed a compact and low-power cantilever-based sensor array, which has been used to detect various vapor-phase analytes. For further information on the latest developments, see the article "Sniffing the Air with an Electronic Nose."

LLNL has identified solution-grown organic crystals having scintillation efficiency not only close to, but even exceeding that of stilbene.. LLNL's invention relates to a new class of neutron detectors based on scintillation response of organic single crystals. More specifically, the use of organic molecules grown from solution and to molecules including the basic benzene or phenyl structure.

The technology is an outgrowth of the world's fastest solid-state digitizer, which was designed to measure sub-nanosecond events generated by fusion experiments on the Laboratory's Nova laser. MIR is based on the radiation of short voltage impulses that are reflected off nearby objects and detected by MIR's extremely high-speed sampling receiver. Prototype units emit one million impulses per second and then detect their echoes within ranges of 20 feet, or further with the addition of synthetic beam forming antennas. The microradar can be preset to detect stationary objects within a precisely defined range as well as any motion within that area. MIR can penetrate materials such as rubber, plastic, wood, concrete, glass, ice, and mud.

LLNL is developing the Space-based Telescopes for Actionable Refinement of Ephemeris (STARE). STARE is a constellation of low cost nano-satellites (less than 5Kg) in low-earth orbit dedicated to the observation of space debris in conjunction with a ground-based infrastructure for maintenance, coordination and data processing. Each nano-satellite in the constellation is capable of recording an optical image of space objects (debris or assets) at various range and relative velocities as scheduled by the ground infrastructure based on their closest approach distance (typically less than 1000m). The ground infrastructure processes the data received from multiple observations of the objects and reduces the positional uncertainty on the probability of collision to a level typically less…

LLNL's X-ray spectrometers based on STJ have been developed for high-resolution soft X-ray spectroscopy. STJ consist of two superconducting thin film electrodes separated by a thin insulating tunnel barrier. They measure X-ray energies from the increase in tunneling current after X-ray absorption in one of the electrodes excites additional charge carriers above the superconducting energy gap. STJ have an energy resolution an order of magnitude higher than conventional energy-dispersive X-ray detectors based on germanium or silicon semiconductors. The short life time of X-ray-induced excess charges allows detector operation at count rates up to 10,000 counts/per detector pixel. Effective area and total count rate capabilities have been increased by developing detector arrays.

LLNL scientists have developed a simple neutron detection technique that can discriminate fissile material from non-fissile material. A low cost digital data acquisition unit collects data at high rates and processes large volumes of data in real-time. This technique functions in a passive mode much like a standard portal monitor. There are options for converting the technique to an active interrogation scheme.

LLNL researchers have grown and characterized scintillator crystals of Strontium Iodide (SrI2). Scintillator energy resolution and light yield proportionality surpass NaI and are similar to LaBr3. The SrI2 scintillators doped with europium (Eu) exhibit very high light yields (> 100,000 photons/MeV), extremely good energy resolution (<3% at 662 keV) and excellent light yield proportionality.

LLNL scientists have developed an approach for full spectrum analysis during gamma ray spectrometry using a spectral library signature created from a large amount of spectral data. The signature can be compared to unknown spectral measurements for the identification of previously unknown nuclear material.

This technology is an extremely small and robust cell in which a very small volume of gas is sampled, while maintaining high sensitivity and specificity, by combining it with:

  • Highly tunable and commercially available semiconductor lasers, such as edge emitting lasers and vertical cavity surface emitting lasers (to provide various absorption lines of one specie and to capture varies elements at once), and
  • Wavelength modulation spectroscopy (to extract high harmonics which are not affected by the 1/f noise).

Furthermore, the source and detector are both fiber-coupled allowing remote detection of gases down to ppm (and potentially to ppb) in hazardous and unfavorable conditions and enabling multiplexing of different sources for the analysis of…

Chemical and biological sensors based on nanowire or nanotube technologies exhibit observable ultrasensitive detection limits due to their unusually large surface-to-volume architecture. This suggests that nanosensors can provide a distinct advantage over conventional designs. This advantage is further enhanced when the nanosensor can harvest its meager power requirements from the surrounding environment. A self-powering or "batteryless" device can made small enough to serve in unique situations ranging from military to medical applications. LLNL researchers successfully fabricated two prototype platforms for batteryless chemical detectors using one-dimensional semiconductor nanowires.

The best currently available nanogenerators can capture, convert, store, and use the energy…

Transparent ceramic fabrication allows the production of gadolinium- , lutetium-, and terbium-based garnets which are difficult to grow by melt techniques due to phase instabilities. Phase stabilization of the garnets is accomplished by the addition of the intersubstitutional ions, Gallium and/or Scandium.

Scientists have developed many versatile and scaleable fabrication methods. One includes using Flame Spray Pyrolysis (FSP) to produce feedstock which is readily converted into phase-pure transparent ceramics. The FSP nanoparticles are formed into a green body, vacuum sintered, then hot-isostatic pressed into optically transparent parts.

The transparent ceramic scintillators have been found to provide a surprisingly high light yield which results in gamma ray…

LLNL has developed a radiation detector that cools to operating temperatures in 1-2 hours using two separate cooling stages. The first cooling brings the instrument to operating temperature. The embedded second cooling system achieves portable detection that can be sustained for 8-12 hours.

In addition, an integrated, hermetically-sealed package has been developed complete with user interface, shock mounting, LCD display, and a USB port for communication to a PC. The display is run by an embedded processor and shows spectroscopy, isotope identification, system health and status as well as other features. The entire packaged system weighs 10.1 lbs including batteries.

The integrated GeMini system has undergone extensive field testing and is at a Technical Readiness…

LLNL's neutron "Pillar Detector" fabrication technology uses semiconductor-based micro-structured elements as an electrical signal generation medium for the detection of neutrons. These materials in the form of semiconductor "pillars" embedded in matrix of high cross-section neutron converter materials (such as Boron) that emit charged particles upon interaction with neutrons. These charged particles in turn generate electron-hole pairs and thus detectable electrical current in the semiconductor micro-structured elements.

The HERMES bridge inspector is an ultrawideband-based nondestructive evaluation (NDE) system. The LLNL-developed system provides 3-D ground penetrating radar information. An array of micropower impulse radar (MIR) sensors is mounted under a trailer. Reflected radar data is gathered by driving the trailer over a bridge at 55 mph and 3-D image maps of the internal structure of the bridge deck are created.

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LLNL has developed a wide band (WB) ground penetrating radar (GPR) technology to detect and image buried objects under a moving vehicle. Efficient and high performance processing algorithms reconstruct images of buried or hidden objects in two or three dimensions under a scanning array. The technology includes a mobile high-performance computing system allowing GPR array sensor data to be processed to form subsurface images which are displayed to the vehicle operator in real-time. The components of this technology, an array of radars and antennas, signal processing system, and operator interface are integrated and adaptable to utility or tactical vehicles operating on or off road.

LLNL researchers have combined Raman and infrared (IR) spectroscopy methods in a single device. The sensor is able to detect, identify, and quantify a range of unknown gases. Raman spectroscopy records the degree of light scattered while IR measures the amount of light that is absorbed. The combination of the two techniques results in complementary spectra that serve as molecular-level fingerprints of gaseous species. With this sensor, gas concentrations down to the parts-per-million, and even parts-per-billion, can successfully be detected and measured. The device can be miniaturized for easy deployment.

GuardDog technology uses ultra-wideband (UWB) impulse sensors (also known as micropower impulse radar or MIR), optional global positioning systems (GPS), local signal processing, and user-selectable (power and bandwidth) radio frequency (RF) communication transceivers. UWB sensors emit and detect very-low-amplitude and short-voltage impulses for detecting returning radar signals. By employing a precise “range-gate,” UWB signals are used to create an omni-directional detecting shell of user-selected diameter. A network of these sensors can form a protective ad-hoc area-wide coverage, be placed strategically, or form a “fence” around selected facilities, in which all motion inside or outside the area of interest is ignored.

The invention relates to a measurement method and system for capturing both the amplitude and phase temporal profile of a transient waveform or a selected number of consecutive waveforms having bandwidths of up to about 10 THz in a single shot or in a high repetition rate mode. The invention consists of an optical preprocessor which can then output a time-scaled replica of the input signal to a conventional oscilloscope for display. An additional technical description is available.

The Optical Transconductance Varistor (Opticondistor) overcomes depletion region voltage limitations by optically exciting wide bandgap materials in a compact package. A 100μ thick crystal could have the capability approaching 40kV and would replace numerous equivalent junction devices. Thus, unlike present junction transistors or diodes, this wide bandgap device can be stacked in series or parallel as separate devices or made thicker to accommodate higher voltages.

The Forensic Science Center at LLNL has invented a portable, compact and rugged hydrogen peroxide vapor generator. The system produces a consistent concentration of hydrogen peroxide vapor. The hydrogen peroxide vapor is generated from a safe and easy to maintain source of aqueous hydrogen peroxide and produces a dynamic flow stream at discrete concentrations.

Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have developed a plastic that can detect neutrons, something previously thought impossible.

Livermore scientists demonstrated a plastic scintillator that can discriminate between neutrons and gamma rays with a polyvinyltoluene (PVT) polymer matrix loaded with a scintillating dye, 2,5-diphenyloxazole (PPO). They have found that plastic scintillators have a roughly 20 percent finer resolution for neutron-gamma ray discrimination than liquid scintillators.