This fabrication technique enables the creation of a diverse array of microscopic 3D structures with macroscopic impact. For instance, the technique can be used to create 3-dimensional integrated circuits, the next step in the evolution of 2-dimensional microprocessors. It is also capable of creating structured electromagnetic materials. Currently, the technique is being used to make thermal antennas which can control the direction of heat emitted from an object, potentially easing cooling and heating needs for satellites or perhaps even buildings and cars.
Sandia developed tiny glitter-sized photovoltaic (PV) cells that could revolutionize solar energy collection. The crystalline silicon micro-PV cells will be cheaper and have greater efficiencies than current PV collectors. Micro-PV cells require relatively little material to form well-controlled, highly efficient devices. Cell fabrication uses common microelectronic and micro-electromechanical systems techniques. They are 10 times thinner than conventional cells, yet perform at about the same efficiency.
Our miniature acoustic resonators perform RF filtering and frequency synthesis in next-generation wireless devices—offering higher performance in a smaller package with a lower price.
Our microresonators are miniature acoustic resonators fabricated using complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS)-compatible microfabrication techniques. When grouped together, our microresonators operate as filters; they provide frequency selection in radios and other electronic equipment. When connected with transistor electronics, microresonators can provide frequency reference functions (such as clocking) to radios, microprocessors, and other electronic devices.
The device, a joint effort of Sandia Labs and the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, is essentially a handheld, battery-powered, portable detection system capable of identifying a wide range of medically relevant pathogens from th eir biomolecular signatures. Detection can occur within minutes, not hours, at the point of care, whether that care is in a physician’s office, a hospital bed, or at the scene of a biodefense or biomedical emergency. According to the researchers, “The Acoustic Wave Biosensor provides fast, low-cost diagnostic results with as good or better sensitivity than traditional techniques.” The device’s sensor array works like a miniature analytical balance, weighing the amount of pathogen that binds to its surfaces. The pathogen-bound sensor acts like a spring with a small weight bouncing at one end. As more pathogens stick to the surface, the weight on the spring increases, causing the spring’s bouncing speed to decrease by a measurable amount. The sensors detect minute weight differences by this method. A variety of sticky substances (ligands) attach to different pathogens. Surface tension draws the sample over the sensor, so no pumps or valves are required. This makes the sensors smaller, more reliable, less expensive to manufacture, and the process extends the operating time of the rechargeable batteries. System control, data analysis and reporting are performed by a personal digital assistant (PDA).
You’ve accepted that batteries run out of power and that newer batteries are rechargeable in wall electric sockets. But why should you go through all that? Why not a battery covered by a thin photovoltaic film? Just like on rooftops, the photovoltaic surface could harvest sunlight and turn it into electricity, recharging the battery in an ongoing process. This work, joint with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Front Edge Technology Inc. in Baldwin Park, Calif., was originally part of a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program, but commercial applications were “evident from the start,” the researchers wrote. The most likely immediate applications of the durable batteries are self-powered environmental sensors, self-powered tags for material tracking, and self-powered ‘smart’ cards to enhance user features and security. The key feature for the micropower source is a volume of only one microliter, yet a high peak-power density greater than 1,000 watts per liter. This makes the device useful for powering wireless microsystems that sense, record, transmit and/or actuate. The photovoltaic battery stack itself is only five millimeters in diameter and approximately 50 microns thick. (A human hair is approximately 70 microns thick.)R&D100 Entry 2010: Micro Power Source
An ultra-low-power microphotonic communications platform made of silicon, for wavelength division multiplexed communications within high performance computers. The ultrasmall components establish a platform of elements capable of addressing the bandwidth and power consumption problems of high-performance computer and data communications networks. Silicon resonant modulators demonstrate for the first time 100-microwatts/gigabit/second optical data transmission on a silicon CMOS-compatible platform. Together with the first high-speed silicon bandpass switches, the platform enables optical data transmission and routing on a silicon platform at nanosecond switching speeds with up to 100-times less power consumption and 100 times the bandwidth density compared to traditional electronic approaches.
Sandia shares a part of this award for moving research forward to enable the blind to see. The project employs a small video camera on a patient’s glasses sending images to a compact image processor on the patient’s belt. The processor commands an implant to deliver the desired pulse of current to an electrode array attached to the patient’s retinal tissue. This inner-eye array stimulates the retinal tissue nerves which ultimately connect to nerves leading to the visual cortex of the brain where the patient sees an image. The award was given to a multi-lab/industry collaboration funded by DOE, initiated by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and submitted for an award by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Sandia is developing MicroElectroMechanical Systems (MEMS) and high-voltage subsystems for advanced artificial retina implant designs. These include microtools, electronics packaging, and application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs).
Designed to help improve measurement accuracy for miniaturized devices, such as fuel injectors, watch components, and inkjet printer parts. The Sandia MEMS-based three-dimensional physical artifact is 10 times more accurate and much less expensive than the former gold standard and can be used to calibrate a variety of inspection systems.
Project involved development of a simple soft coating process that forms optical, electrical, and magnetic thin films from self-assembled nanoparticles. Researchers developed a wet-solution-based process employing self assembly to create engineered nanocomposite thin films with tunable properties by varying particle composition, sizes, shapes, and particle packing density and geometry.
A device that, when pressed against the skin, can make rapid diagnostic measurements in a point-of-care setting. The ElectroNeedle patch can detect and identify biological markers just beneath the skin’s surface. Because the electrochemical analysis is accomplished in situ, the need to withdraw body fluid is eliminated.
Sandia used innovative data compression techniques to help physicians consult in real time over MRI pictures, though the amount of data transferred is normally huge and the healers may be thousands of miles from each other. Global-Link allows such rapid transmission of complex data that a doctor in the U.S. can confer with a doctor halfway around the world, viewing and manipulating 3-D MRI imagess in real time directly on each doctor's MRI computer. Similarly, oil team members can confer around the globe on observed data. So can military commanders. Extremely responsive interactions between an event and a remote, secure, high-resolution display are possible using Global-Link across the Internet. Results were achieved in collaboration with Logical Solutions, Inc., which is marketing the product.
A patented exploratory ion beam microscope system that does not require costly and complicated forming and focusing equipment. The system was invented and patented by, jointly with Quantar Technologies, which is marketing this invention. The multidimensional, high-resolution analysis system is called the Ion-Photon Emission Microscope (IPEM). It allows scientists and engineers to microscopically study the effects of single ions in air on semiconductors, semiconductor devices, and biological cells without having to focus the beam. The technique determines the position at which an individual ion enters the surface of a sample; thus, focusing a beam is unnecessary.
Colored LEDs are of interest for displays and even higher-power lamps like traffic lights. A national initiative is now underway to develop solid-state sources for high-efficiency white lighting. The cantilever epitaxy process of growing LEDs may help meet those needs. Over the past several years LEDs have been grown with various combinations of gallium nitride alloys on sapphire substrates. However, the atoms of the two materials do not line up perfectly due to differences in natural lengths of the bonds in their respective crystal lattices. Regions of imperfections, called dislocations, accompany this lattice mismatch. These dislocations limit LEDs’ brightness and performance. The new cantilever epitaxy process reduces the numbers of dislocations, giving the potential for longer-lived and better performing LEDs. It also means that LEDs grown on the patterned sapphire/gallium nitride substrates can produce brighter, more efficient, green, blue, and white lights than previously accomplished. Because of the reduction in dislocations, the cantilever epitaxy process shows “great promise for making a superior substrate for light-emitting devices” and has potential for applications to a wide variety of electronic devices and GaN integrated circuit technology. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) is used to determine the amount of dislocations eliminated through the cantilever epitaxy process.
Lightning strikes, equipment failures, or other anomalies in electric powered transmission systems can cause brown-outs or even network failures. But a fast-response semiconductor device allows a utility to rapidly convert energy stored in a DC device into AC power and minimize the negative effects of such interruptions on electrical devices. Under the auspices of the DOE Energy Storage Systems Program, The advanced semiconductor unit called an ETO (emitter turn-off thyristor), is a three-terminal semiconductor device similar to a MOSFET (metal oxide semiconductor/field effect transistor) but capable of switching greater power at high frequencies. The ETO, rated at 4000A and 4500V, can switch power at 1-3 kHz. The ETO R& D 100 application was a joint entry with Solitronics (a Blacksburg small business marketing the ETO), Virginia Tech (ETO inventor), Sandia (which supported the development of the ETO from a concept to an actual product suitable for utility energy storage applications), and the American Competitiveness Institute in Philadelphia (which assisted the team with manufacturing engineering and prototype production of the device).
Editor’s Choice Award, in addition to R&D 100 recognition. The award is “for the Greatest Improvement Upon an Existing Technology” and one of three technologies considered by R&D Magazine editors to be the most outstanding achievements among the 100 selected. More than 50 Sandians and collaborators from Lawrence Livermore (LLNL) and Lawrence Berkeley national laboratories were honored for this technological advance that will lead to dramatic improvements in the speed and memory of computer systems. They created the only system that can pattern full chip-size areas on silicon wafers with features as small as 50nm. It is the embodiment of a set of groundbreaking technologies that were considered by many to be impossible as recently as a few years ago. Commercialization of this breakthrough will allow advances in microelectronics to continue into the next decade. In addition to the national laboratory team, the award is also being given jointly to Northrop Grumman Space Technology/Cutting Edge Optronics. The work was done in partnership with an industrial consortium comprising Intel, Motorola, AMD, Infineon, IBM, and Micron. Intel ordered the first production-level instrument based on this technology last year.
Sandia contributed to the opto-mechanical design and integration of a compact, transportable adaptive optics system that expands upon traditional devices currently used in optometrists’ offices. In addition to determining correction needed for near-sightedness or far-sightedness and astigmatism, it also determines correction needed for high-order aberrations that can interfere with night vision and can provide a preview of correction to a patient. The effects of aberrations can be compared to distortions seen in a pool due to ripples on the surface. Diminished night vision or a perception of “halos” can sometimes result from aberrations introduced during laser eye surgery. The Adaptive Optics Phoropter is a system that uses MEMS-based deformable mirror technology to correct wavefront aberrations in the eye. It combines technologies from astronomy and micromachining to advance the study and treatment of retinal diseases. Applications for the tool include generation of improved prescriptions for custom contact lenses or laser eye surgery, as well as high-resolution retinal imaging. The award is shared by LLNL, which led the project, Sandia, the University of Rochester, Wavefront Sciences, Boston Micromachines Corp., and Bausch & Lomb.
SnifferStar™ mounts on a drone aircraft for remote surveillance of battlefield situations where suspect plumes or clouds are present. The detector’s primary purpose is to save lives by warning soldiers that chemical weapons are present on a battlefield. Developed under a Shared Vision program with Lockheed Martin, the entire module weighs less than a golf ball, operates on less than 0.5 watts, and uses the wind generated by the motion of the craft to collect samples for analysis. SnifferStar is sensitive to both blister and nerve agents. It ignores common interferents and analyzes chemical warfare agents in 20 seconds. The device also has possibilities for use in or near the ventilation systems of buildings, or, with addition of small pumps to force air into the device, on posts surrounding military bases.
The MTR8500 is the first commercial fiber optic transponder to use12-channel, 1.25 gigabit per second transceivers coupled to 12-channel fiber ribbon cable for short haul applications. This parallel channel approach, enabled by microsystems inventions in optical transceivers, flexible circuit boards, optical power control, optoelectronic housing & mounting, and optical coupling has resulted in a transponder that can be manufactured for 1/10 the cost of other products. The project, funded by EMCORE Corporation, and was submitted by Sandia as a joint entry with EMCORE’s Fiber Optics Division of Albuquerque.
A new way to perform ion beam analyses without having to focus the high-energy ion beam. The IEEM was a joint entry between Sandia and Staib Instruments, Inc., Langenbach, Germany. Staib is now manufacturing the IEEM.
A team of researchers developed a new technique of growing large single crystals of cadmium zinc telluride (CZT) suitable for radiation detectors. The new solid-state radiation detectors are unique because they can operate at room temperature, detect X- and gamma-ray radiation with high efficiency, and uniquely identify the isotopes responsible for the emitted radiation. The team’s development of an improved technique to grow detector-grade CZT crystals and a new method to reduce the dark current flowing along the crystal surfaces have allowed for major improvements in the signal-to-noise ratio, long-term stability, and yield of single-crystal material. The technique was developed by Sandia; Yinnel-Tech Inc. in South Bend, Ind.; Techion, Israel Institute of Technology; and Fisk University.
The market for X- and gamma-ray detectors and instruments used for radiation sensing or imaging now exceeds several billion dollars a year. But the most accurate detectors must be cryogenically cooled ‹ an expensive process that requires heavyweight accessories. Other detectors, lighter, cheaper, and able to operate at room temperatures, are fuzzy on identifying the precise element emitting the radiation they perceive. Surmounting this logical trade-off, Sandia investigators, in conjunction with Digirad Corporation of San Diego, Calif., have developed a unique detector that can operate at room temperature yet identify the isotopes responsible for emitted radiation. The high-performance properties of these detectors are made possible by a novel electrode design, invented at Digirad, and by improvements in the quality of the cadmium-zinc-telluride crystals and processes used to produce the devices, which were jointly discovered by Digirad and Sandia. Possible applications include X-ray radio-graphy, environmental cleanup, safeguarding of nuclear materials, treaty verification, and detection of tumors.
Silicon technology is used to create structures that under a microscope look like stacks of Popsicle sticks intersecting at right angles. The tiny structures were able to control radiation at microwave, infrared, and then optical frequencies. Control of microwaves may be important for airplane communications; infrared light has military implications; and control of optical wavelengths could prove tremendously important for worldwide communication systems, almost all of which use optical wavelengths to transmit information.
Permits the rapid location of a defect in a complex integrated circuit through use of a scanning laser microscope, LIVA is a powerful technique for failure analysis from the back side of the integrated circuit.
Hand-held device that analyzes blood samples in minutes by using many tiny fingers of laser light to image cells in a drop of blood placed in a small chamber.
A semiconductor bridge (SCB) igniter for the ignition of a variety of explosive materials, used in the GEOSEIS mini-hole seismic surface initiation systems. The accurate SCB timing produces cost savings in conducting geophysical and mineral exploration utilizing GEOSEIS, which is shared by Ensign-Bickford, SCB Technologies, and Sandia.
Nonvolatile Field Effect Transistor Device, known as the protonic chip, a memory-retentive chip using clunky protons that maintain screen memory by staying where they are if the power is turned off.
Filmetrics F-30 Optical Probe modifies the physical or chemical condition that deposits film as it is being grown. The device works by reflecting visible or near-infrared light from films to measure their growth rates. The technique is based on the principle that different film thicknesses and materials cause different patterns of reflected light.
Integrated micromachine technology, creating micromachines that "think" and do so on a thumbnail-size computer chip.
An imaging technique that locates defect sites in complex integrated circuits.
VCEL, red-light vertical cavity surface emitting laser, a special class of semiconductor laser diode that emits a highly coherent and intense beam of red light perpendicular to the surface of the wafer on which it is grown. The VCEL has many fundamental advantages over conventional red-light-emitting lasers and has a potential for a variety of applications, including optical interconnects, fiber optical communications, and laser printing.
Interfacial Force Microscope, new kind of microscope that uses a force-feedback sensor that eliminates the mechanical instability found on deflection sensors currently used in scanning probe microscopes.
A silicon integrated circuit that serves as a "reliability test lab on a chip" by replicating functions normally associated with expensive external reliability test systems. Allows reliability characterization at the full operating frequency of a semiconductor technology using only a few inexpensive direct current components.
More efficient than conventional photovoltaic cells and is amenable to high-volume manufacture by standard integrated circuit processing technology.
Detects hydrogen in a wide array of industrial applications.
Aqueous Chelating Etch System, a new family of water-based chelating etches using organic acids, used for high-temperature superconducting films and microelectronic devices, offers smaller feature sizes, better surface structures, and greater selectivity than other methods.
Similar to production integrated circuits but loaded with as many as 250 microsensors to detect corrosion, moisture, and other stresses during packaging, assembly, and storage of integrated circuits.
Compound semiconductor devices using strained layer superlattices, for transmitting and receiving modulated optical signals. Because they can receive and reflect light waves generated from a distant source, these devices have their greatest potential applications in communication systems.
A laboratory instrument that provides a less expensive and more convenient source of intense extreme-ultraviolet radiation (XUV).
X-MIBA (external micro-ion beam analysis) System, makes possible in situ analyses of catalysis, corrosion, combustion, etching, lubrication, and vapor deposition.
Supports as many as 16 CPU boards for compute speeds of 8 MIPS in a package no bigger than a shoe box.
Carbon-Resistance Particle Analyses that measure fluxes and energies of particles escaping from magnetically confined plasmas in fusion reactors.
Developed for microlithography applications such as PCBs and ICs and precision manufacturing.