BNL lands 2 ‘Oscars of Innovation’

BNL award winner Nathalie Bouet. Her Binary Pseudo-Random Calibration Tool was named one of the Top 100 innovations of 2015.

Brookhaven National Laboratory has been honored once more by R&D Magazine, which counted two BNL-developed technologies among its top 100 tech innovations of the year.

Known as the “Oscars of Innovation,” the R&D 100 Awards honor the top technological advances of the year. Among the 100 for 2015: BNL’s Active Superconducting Fault Current Limiter and the Binary Pseudo-Random Calibration Tool.

Vyacheslav Solovyov

Vyacheslav Solovyov

Developed by physicists Vyacheslav Solovyov and Qiang Li, the so-called aFCL is a superconducting “fault-current limiter” that provides an electrical-current stopgap in emergency situations.

FCLs rapidly interrupt energy flow with an alternating-current magnetic field in case of short circuit or other emergency. Soloyvov and Li’s device can be pre-set to specific current levels, a first, and is more compact than traditional FCLs, make it ideal for smaller substations.

The Binary Pseudo-Random Calibration Tool solves one of the most vexing problems in microscopic surface-imaging: the “quantitative characterization” of measuring instruments like electron microscopes and atomic force microscopes, which provide resolution on the order of fractions of a nanometer.

Utilizing algorithms and fabrication techniques that reproduce surfaces with greatly enhanced accuracy, the BPRCT redefines metrology, the science of measurement. The tool calibrates imaging and profiling systems from the macroscale – objects or phenomena large enough to be seen with the naked eye – to the nanoscale, providing “the highest resolution ever achieved,” according to BNL.

Peter Takacs

Peter Takacs

Nathalie Bouet of BNL’s National Synchrotron Light Source II and Peter Takacs, director of Brookhaven’s Optical Metrology Laboratory, teamed with researchers from California’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois and aBeam Technologies, an international semiconductor and nanofabrication specialist with U.S. headquarters in California, to create the calibration tool.

Brookhaven National Laboratory Director Doon Gibbs lauded the R&D 100 Awards, noting the science they honor benefits multiple industries and national priorities.

“The cutting-edge research and development performed at Brookhaven and at other national labs is helping to meet our energy challenges, strengthen our national security and improve our economic competitiveness,” Gibbs said in a statement.

Since winning its first in 1987, BNL has taken home more than 30 R&D 100 Awards, honoring innovative materials, chemistry breakthroughs, new biomedical products, testing equipment advances and novel high-energy physics developed at least in part in Upton.

All told, projects from Department of Energy labs like Brookhaven captured 33 R&D 100 Awards. The annual awards were first issued in 1963 as the I-R 100, in keeping with R&D Magazine’s original name, Industrial Research Magazine.

Founded in 1959, now-R&D Magazine provides timely news and useful technical articles to scientists, engineers and other staffers at laboratories around the world.