Technology developed by
The awards are given to companies based on whether they have met federal research and development needs, encouraged diverse participation in technological innovation and increased the commercialization of federal research.
LLNL's Industrial Partnerships Office (https://ipo.llnl.gov/)(IPO) was instrumental in finding commercial partners for both technologies and working with STAR Cryo,
"It's very rewarding to see small businesses invest in commercializing Lab national security technologies," said
The STJ X-ray detectors operate at very low temperatures, about 0.1 degree from absolute zero, or -459 F. This enables them to measure X-ray energies more precisely to reveal not only the composition of unknown materials, but also the chemical bonding state of elements in the sample.
The technology has many potential applications in both research and industry that range from X-ray astronomy to material analysis.
"The semiconductor industry cares about smaller and smaller impurities that get into the chip fabrication process, which causes the chip to fail and reduces the manufacturing yield," said LLNL physicist
LLNL and STAR Cryo are collaborating on STJ detectors that offer more than a ten-fold improvement in energy resolution as compared with conventional silicon or germanium detectors, said company president
To operate the STJ detectors -- which look like a large computer chip -- STAR Cryo also developed an advanced refrigerator technology. These refrigerators use a two-stage pulse tube cryocooler to precool the detector to 3 Kelvin, and then a two-stage adiabatic demagnetization refrigerator (ADR) obtains a base temperature below 0.1 Kelvin. The refrigerator is fully automated without using liquid nitrogen or expensive helium, saving time and money. See image (https://www.llnl.gov/news/news_images/cylindersBig.jpg).
"This collaboration with LLNL has been very successful in terms of scientific output as well as contracts and commercial opportunities available through the Industrial Partnerships Office," Cantor said.
Growing crystals for portable radiation detectors
Meanwhile, an LLNL team that includes
The melt-growth technique is a high-temperature process in which crystallization is conducted by cooling an initial liquid melt until it becomes a solid. During the solution-grown process developed by LLNL, stilbene is grown using crystallization tanks and seed holders to handle organic solutions to improve the growth process with controlled temperature reduction during the crystal's rotation.
"The solution method used for stilbene production is based on technology developed previously for growth of super-large KDP [potassium dihydrogen phosphate] crystals for the National Ignition Facility (https://lasers.llnl.gov/)," said Zaitseva, the physicist who is the project's principal investigator.
These crystals can potentially be used in portable and non-portable neutron radiation detection devices to detect illicit nuclear weapons at ports of entry, security checkpoints, sensitive city installations as well as scanning equipment for wide area sweeping at offshore facilities or onboard ships. They can be used for monitoring nuclear power plants for dangerous or unhealthy levels of radiation from leakage. They also can be used as scientific measurements of neutron emitters, such as in a laboratory or classroom setting.
The LLNL team's solution-grown crystals are faster and cheaper to produce than stilbene crystals using a melt-growth method; can quickly detect neutrons in the presence of a strong gamma ray background; and have good luminescence properties. The team is collaborating with Inrad to develop the crystals for neutron detection applications.
"Until now, only one option existed for detection of fast neutrons," said
In addition to the Tibbetts Award, Zaitseva and
"It's a great recognition of our team's scientific achievements, which helped to develop a commercial product important for the mission of DNDO," Zaitseva said.
Eskilson said: "We are honored to receive these awards and to contribute to technologies that will help keep Americans safe from nuclear threats. Working with
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