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Photonics innovations win R&D 100 Awards

14 July 2014

Super-resolution microscopes from Carl Zeiss and Leica Microsystems, a novel radiation detector from Brookhaven National Lab (BNL), and an origami microscope are among more than a dozen optics and photonics innovations to win one of this year's R&D 100 Awards.

Intended to recognize the 100 "most technologically significant products" introduced over the past year, the list also includes an all-fiber isolator from AdValue Photonics, an optical coherence tomography (OCT) diagnostic endoscope developed by NinePoint Medical, and a lunar laser communication system co-developed by NASA and MIT's Lincoln Laboratory.

photo of Ralph JamesFormer SPIE President Ralph James, SPIE Fellow Aleksey Bolotnikov, and SPIE Senior Members Anwar Hossain and Ge Yang were among team members at BNL and Korea University who were recognized for GammaScout, a compact radiation detection system that provides detailed spectroscopic and imaging information about the presence and distribution of x-ray and gamma-ray radiation in a sample or area.

James and Bolotnikov of the Radiation Detector and Nonproliferation R&D Group at BNL led the team that developed the GammaScout technology. It couples a high position-resolution cadmium-zinc-telluride (CZT) radiation detector with novel low-noise pulse processing electronics and high-performance image acquisition software.

James, a senior physicist with BNL, has previously won an R&D 100 award.

US Department of Energy researchers won a total of 31 of the 100 awards, including one to an Oak Ridge National Lab team that included SPIE Senior Member Georgia Tourassi.

Tourassi, along with Songhua Xu, Hong-Jun Yoon and Sophie Voisin of the ORNL Computational Sciences and Engineering Division, combined innovative visual diagrams and pioneering analytic rule sets for the Intelligent Software for Personalized Modeling (iSPM) of Expert Opinions, Decisions and Errors in Visual Examination Tasks.

The software helps analysts perform visual tasks such as making medical diagnoses and uses eye-tracking hardware, user-interaction, and advanced analysis to predict a person's perceptual behavior, cognitive response, and risk of error for complex decision tasks. This technology could improve patients' health outcomes and lower medical errors, while providers could pay lower malpractice costs.

In addition, the software can be used in fields such as education and homeland security where experts also perform risk-sensitive visual tasks.

Bruce Bernacki and Avegant's Allan Evans, Edward Tang and Neil Welch of the Pacific Northwest National Lab also won an R&D100 award for GlyphTM, a virtual retinal display.

Among the other optics, photonics, and imaging technologies that were honored with a so-called "Oscar of Invention" were:

  • Plasmon-Excitation Optical Scanning Probe Microscope, developed by Yokohama Research Lab and Hitachi
  • ITOS PHASER 3000 Light Module, developed by OSRAM, OSRAM SYLVANIA and T.Q. Technology Co.
  • An Airborne Sense and Avoid (ABSAA) Radar Panel; Haystack Ultrawideband Satellite Imaging Radar (HUSIR; and Localizing Ground Penetrating Radar (LGPR), developed by MIT Lincoln Lab
  • Extreme-power Ultra-low-loss Dispersive Element (EXUDE), developed by Lawrence Livermore National Lab,Lockheed Martin Laser and Sensor Systems, and Advanced Thin Films
  • Sequential infiltration synthesis (SIS) lithography, developed by the Argonne National Lab
  • Direct Gas-to-Wafer Epitaxial System, developed by Crystal Solar Inc. and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Also recognized are a thermal microscope from Applied Nanostructures, a three-dimensional "macroscope" from Keyence, and the "Foldscope" developed at Stanford University.

Emerging from Manu Prakash's research group, the Foldscope is a radical approach to microscopy that is based on origami. Printed and folded from a single sheet of paper, and costing less than a US dollar in parts, the Foldscope is said to yield a magnification of more than 2000x, along with a resolution of 800 nm.

Developers say the Foldscope weighs less than two nickels (8.8 g), is small enough to fit in a pocket (70×20×2 mm3), requires no external power, and can survive being dropped from a three-story building or stepped on by a person.

The lunar laser communication system that won an award was the subject of an SPIE Newsroom article and an SPIE Proceedings paper earlier this year.

The awards will be presented 7 November.