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R&D 100: Lab Researchers Contribute to Public Safety

By August 20, 2013No Comments

Ben Dotson: Project Coordinator for Digital Reform, Office of Public Affairs

As Secretary Moniz recently noted, the Energy Department’s National Labs are leading the way in scientific innovation in the United States, including scientific research that furthers our national security. Scientists at two Energy Department Labs and the Y-12 National Security Complex received R&D 100 awards — also known as the “Oscars of innovation” — for technologies that advance national security and public safety.

  • Developed at Los Alamos National Lab, the Multi-Mode Passive Detection System is a scanning device that uses muons, subatomic particles created by the interaction between cosmic rays from deep space and molecules in the upper atmosphere, to quickly detect unshielded to heavily shielded nuclear and radiological threats, explosives and other contraband.
  • MiniMax is a battery-powered, digital x-ray imaging system that is self contained, lightweight, compact and portable. Developed at Los Alamos National Lab, its applications could include homeland security (postal inspection of suspicious packages and explosive ordnance disposal), weld inspection and disaster relief (for example in triaging broken bones).
  • Oak Ridge National Lab was recognized for a new software tool that automates the discovery of selected information from large dynamic streams of text, which could aid in the discovery of emerging threats and help law enforcement agencies safeguard the public. “Distribute The Highest Selected Textual Recommendation” produces a humanly manageable list of documents without requiring the user to perform a traditional keyword search.
  • The LISeTM is a high-efficiency thermal neutron detector developed by scientists at the Y-12 National Security Complex. This single-crystalline, solid-state device offers the advantages of portability, sensitivity, simplicity and low cost, and will be used in handheld nuclear nonproliferation and homeland security applications to find fissile materials.

These awardees represent just four of the 36 technologies from the Energy Department’s National Labs that received R&D 100 awards this year. Not only are the National Labs and their awardees advancing scientific innovation, they are also increasing U.S. economic competitiveness and ensuring public safety at home and abroad. To learn more about the contributions of the National Labs, visit

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