Sandia LabNews

Sandia wins seven R&D 100 Awards and two specialty honors

Annual breadth of invention is wide

Competing in an international pool of universities, corporations and government labs, inventions from Sandia captured seven R&D 100 Awards (one in conjunction with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory) this year, as well as two special awards for green technology and corporate responsibility.

Independent panels of judges, chosen by R&D World magazine, selected projects to represent the year’s 100 most outstanding advances in applied technologies. The awards, in their 59th year, focus on practical impact rather than pure research, and recognize entrants for their products’ designs, development, testing and production.

The criterion for winning has been “demonstrable technological significance compared with competing products and technologies,” and emphasizes properties, such as smaller size, faster speed, greater efficiency and higher environmental consciousness.

Since 1976, Sandia has earned 139 R&D 100 awards, including this year’s winners.

Sandia’s R&D 100 selected projects for 2021

Secure-Firmware Over-the-Air

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REMOTE CONTROL — Secure-Firmware Over-the-Air can allow car manufacturers to remotely manage firmware updates and provides enhanced security. (Graphic courtesy of Sandia)

The embedded software known as firmware requires frequent updates in most modern cars. But when these updates occur remotely over the airwaves, the process is vulnerable to cyberattacks that can compromise critical functions like air bag response, steering, acceleration and braking. S-FOTA protection can be installed as a firmware plug-in in each car at its manufacturing plant and is remotely managed by the manufacturer, without inconveniencing the vehicle owner. S-FOTA provides the convenience of a single application interface as well as authenticity assurance, with enhanced security from mathematically quantifiable integrity checks. Submitted by S. Peter Choi

Quantum Scientific Computing Open User Testbed

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QUANTUM ANSWERS — QSCOUT provides scientists free and complete access to the only open quantum computing testbed in the world based on trapped ions.
(Photo courtesy of Sandia)

QSCOUT provides scientists free and complete access to the only open quantum computing testbed in the world based on trapped ions. It gives the scientific community a new level of programming control and execution for improving quantum computer science. These types of controls give researchers the ability to study and answer the major open questions in quantum computing, including understanding and mitigating sources of noise, learning how to characterize and validate quantum operations, and developing and optimizing quantum algorithms for scientific applications. In short, QSCOUT is a quantum computer for scientists, made by scientists, to advance quantum computing science. Submitted by Susan Clark


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FAST FILTER — Sandia developed a reusable and rapidly producible N95 respirator for medical applications in the RAPTR N95 project. (Photo courtesy of Sandia)

A reusable, rapidly producible N95 respirator for medical applications developed at Sandia can be completely disassembled for sterilization, decontamination and component replacement. A swappable passive resonator transmits voice or can be used for fit certification. Air is filtered during inhalation and exhalation. A wide range of filter media, held in a protective structure, can be used to help alleviate supply chain issues. The researchers have filed a patent for the design of the RAPTR and are open to licensing the design. Submitted by Eric Shaner and Todd Barrick


Wave Energy Converter Simulator software is widely used by academia and industry to better understand how devices convert the motion of waves into usable energy and fare in the open sea. This advance can help replace physical testing with computer modeling and is the first open-source software tool allowing developers to numerically model wave-energy converter dynamics and performance. The multiyear collaborative effort included a team of researchers from Sandia and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Submitted by NREL; Sandia contact Kelley Ruehl


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CREATIVE ENSEMBLE — Members of the Sandia research team working on Slycat. (Photo courtesy of Sandia)

Computational modeling frequently generates collections of runs known as ensembles. Ensemble sizes can exceed 10,000 runs, each with hundreds of changing variables, plus multimedia outputs. Slycat makes sense of ensemble data by integrating data management, scalable analysis, abstract visual representations and remote interaction through a web-based interface that is designed for access-controlled collaboration between authenticated project members. Submitted by Patricia Crossno

Potent and Effective Synthetic SARS-CoV-2 Neutralizing Nanobodies

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POWERFUL NANOBODIES — Researchers have assembled extremely potent next-generation anti-COVID-19 neutralizing antibodies. (Photo courtesy of Sandia)

Using a library of variable antibody fragments called nanobodies, Sandia researchers have assembled extremely potent next-generation anti-COVID-19 neutralizing antibodies. Nanobodies offer easier manufacturability, increased versatility, smaller size and the ability to bind to more than one target site to increase potency and resistance to viral mutants. Researchers have shown they can produce a nanobody-based countermeasure within 90 days once a virus’ genetic code has been identified. The method has not yet been tested on humans. The researchers have filed for a patent on aspects of their work and are actively seeking commercial partners to help identify and engineer next-generation antibodies. Submitted by Brooke Harmon


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WINDLESS — Sandia co-developed a stationary wind harvester with no external moving parts. (Photo courtesy of Sandia)

Stationary wind harvesters provide electricity generation with no external moving parts. Co-developed by Sandia researchers with Westergaard Solutions Inc. and Texas Tech University, they can complement rooftop solar setups and provide affordable, reliable power to warehouses, box stores, commercial buildings, military bases and remote locations, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from conventional sources. Distributed, or point-of-use, wind energy has the potential to significantly increase worldwide green energy production and allow microgrids to supplement the electricity grids in many regions. Submitted by Brent Houchens

In addition, Sandia researchers were awarded:

A GOLD Special Recognition in Green Technology award for Environmentally Benign Extraction of Critical Metals Using Supercritical CO2-Based Solvent. A method that uses environmentally harmless citric acid in tandem with carbon dioxide to detoxify coal tailings by extracting critically needed rare elements and more harmful components at the same time. The extraction improves the environment instead of destroying it as conventional mining may do. Submitted by Guangping Xu

A SILVER Corporate Social Responsibility award for RAPTR N95.

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