Sandia LabNews

Labs brings home a record five regional tech transfer awards

Matt Piccini (8621), left, Chung-Yan Koh (8621) and Anup Singh (8620) lead the SpinDx team. SpinDX is a diagnostic tool with medical and non-medical applications. (Photo by Jeff McMillan)
Matt Piccini (8621), left, Chung-Yan Koh (8621) and Anup Singh (8620) lead the SpinDx team. SpinDX is a diagnostic tool with medical and non-medical applications.  (Photo by Jeff McMillan)

Sandia won five regional awards from the Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC) for its work to develop and commercialize innovative technologies. It was the most FLC regional awards Sandia has won at one time.

The FLC’s Far West/Mid-Continent regions recognized the Labs’ SpinDX, Sandia Cooler, and Self-Assembled Multifunctional Optical Coatings (SAMOC) with Outstanding and Notable Technology Development awards. Outstanding Regional Partnership awards were given to Sandia and the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center (UNM HSC) for their work on protocell research; and SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Sandia for the development of cargo container security technologies.

“It’s quite an honor to receive recognition for our technology development and technology

transfer work,” says Jackie Kerby Moore, manager of Technology and Economic Development Dept. 7933 and Sandia’s representative to the FLC. “It’s especially gratifying when we are recognized alongside our partners.”

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SpinDX: Time is money

SpinDX is a lab-on-a-disk, medical diagnostic tool that can determine a patient’s white blood cell count, analyze important protein markers, and process up to 64 assays from a single sample, all in a matter of minutes.

“In a doctor’s office, time is money,” says Anup Singh, senior manager of Biological Science and Technology Dept. 8620. “Patients have become accustomed to an initial visit, some tests, samples that are sent off to a far-away lab, a wait of a week or more for results, more tests, and charges every step of the way. With SpinDx, you can see results before you even leave the office.”

SpinDx has both medical and non-medical applications, ranging from detection of markers of infectious diseases to food and water safety testing. It can quickly complete a variety of lab screening tests and be used by people with minimal scientific training, in a lab, or in the field.

The first license for SpinDX technology was signed in December 2012, the second in March 2013, and three more are being negotiated. Chung-Yan Koh (8621) and Matthew Piccini (8621) also worked on the technology.

Sandia Cooler: Cutting power consumption

The Sandia Cooler reduces the energy needed to cool processor chips in data centers and large-scale computing environments, says Sandia researcher Jeff Koplow (8366). The technology has the potential to decrease overall electrical power consumption in the US by more than 7 percent.

 The Sandia Cooler takes heat from a conventional CPU cooler and efficiently transfers it across a narrow air gap from a stationary base to a rotating structure. The normally stagnant boundary layer of air enveloping the cooling fins is subjected to a powerful centrifugal pumping effect, causing the boundary layer thickness to be reduced to 10 times thinner than normal.

 The cooler offers benefits in other applications where thermal management and energy efficiency are important, particularly heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning. It won an R&D 100 Award in 2012. One license has been issued and about a dozen companies are interested in the technology. Prototypes are being developed for the interested parties.

SAMOC: Efficient coatings

 SAMOC inexpensively forms filmlike coatings already widely used in consumer electronics, semiconductor devices, and high-performance glass and ceramics. But rather than requiring high temperatures and/or the considerable vacuum of current commercial operations to deposit films, the Sandia method disperses commercially available polymers by inserting them in common solvents under ambient conditions and then uses simple spin, dip, or spray techniques to coat surfaces.

Evaporation of the solvents induces the polymers to self-assemble into multifunctional nanoparticles, as well as films with tailored optical properties and a nanostructured surface. Because the process is compatible with conventional spray processing, it can be applied directly to the coating of large or complex parts, which current commercial methods are less able to do.

 The work, which won an R&D 100 award in 2010, was led by Hongyou Fan (1815) and his group. Also participating were researchers from UNM. The technology has been awarded three patents.

Protocell: Breakthrough drug delivery

Protocell research is a joint effort of Sandia and UNM HSC, which includes the UNM School of Medicine, the UNM Cancer Research and Treatment Center, the College of Pharmacy, the Center for Infectious Disease and Immunity, and various UNM hospitals. A protocell is a novel nanoparticle delivery vehicle that can dramatically improve the efficiency of chemotherapy drugs, antibiotics, and vaccines while reducing side effects. Protocells have been shown in in vitro models to improve upon existing nanoparticle-based drug delivery by a million-fold.

 Development of the protocell combined the knowledge of UNM in biomedical, cancer, engineering, and infectious disease research with Sandia’s expertise in materials science and nanotechnology. Sandia and UNM have been working together to promote technology transfer since their first joint technology was licensed in 1993.

Research on the protocell is part of Sandia’s University Partnerships Program, which nurtures talent, collaborative research, and national advocacy. The Sandia-UNM collaboration, led from Sandia by Jeff Brinker (1000), Carlee Ashley (8622), and Eric Carnes (8635), has worked the past six years to develop the protocell technology and test its efficacy in in vitro and in vivo cancer models, including leukemia and cancers of the ovary and liver.

The Sandia-UNM team is extending protocell technology to prevention and treatment of infectious disease, addressing Sandia’s national security mission.

Cargo security

In cargo research, Sandia has partnered with SSC Pacific and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop, test, evaluate, and transition new security technologies to meet specific DHS and Department of Navy needs. Since 2001, DHS has been required to secure the storage and transportation of cargo entering and traveling through the United States against terror attack, introduction of contraband cargo, and pilferage. And the Navy must ensure the security of high-value cargo that it transports around the world on a 24-hour basis.

John Dillinger (5628) and Steve Morrison (6531) worked on the project for Sandia.

“We are thrilled to have won these two partnership awards,” Jackie says. “Partnerships with academia, government, and industry are crucial to Sandia’s efforts to deploy technology for the public good.”

The FLC is a nationwide network of more than 300 members that provides the forum to develop strategies and opportunities for linking laboratory mission technologies and expertise with the marketplace.

The FLC Awards Program annually recognizes federal laboratories and their industry partners for outstanding technology transfer efforts. Since its establishment in 1984 the FLC has presented awards to nearly 200 federal laboratories, becoming one of the most prestigious honors in technology transfer.