R&D 100 Awards

R&D World magazine honors inventors by identifying the 100 most technologically significant products and advancements each year and recognizing the winning innovators and their organizations. Winners are chosen from an international pool of submissions from universities, private corporations, and government labs. 

In 2020, Sandia researchers submitted entries that earned six. Three of the winning projects were led by Sandia-only teams, and the other three were collaborative endeavors with other national labs, universities, and a private corporation. Since 1976, Sandia has earned 140 of these coveted awards — often referred to as the "Oscars of invention" or "the Nobel Prizes of technology."

The awards began in 1963 as the I-R 100s, in keeping with the original name of the magazine, Industrial Research. The 2020 awards recognize products and technologies with the potential to change industries and make the world a better place.

2020 winners

Binary Solvent Diffusion for Fabrication of Large Nanoparticle Supercrystals

Binary 2020

Using an artful combination of nanotechnology and basic chemistry, Sandia synthesized and self-assembled gold nanoparticles into unusually large millimeter size supercrystals that could significantly improve the detection sensitivity for trace amounts of chemicals. The enhanced sensing capability derives from giant electromagnetic field enhancements between the self-assembled gold nanoparticles enabled by localized surface plasmon resonance of nanoparticles within the supercrystals. The enhanced performance of these materials is specifically correlated to their shape, size, and packing density. Sandia’s Extended LaMer synthesis of nanoparticles allows precise tunability of the shape, size, composition, and other functional properties for optimization of the plasmonic coupling for superior sensitivity. Control over the structure of these supercrystals is achieved through a seeding and growth process by using a binary solvent diffusion method. Together, these methods enable large-scale production of the materials for reduced cost. Besides sensing, the supercrystals obtained through this process possess superior performance in important applications including optoelectronics, photovoltaic, and surface catalysis.

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Previous winners

scientist inspects substance in vials

Detergent-assisted Fabrication of Multifunctional Nanomaterials

scientist works with 3D xray contrast imaging system

Large Field-of-View Bench Top 3-D X-Ray Phase Contrast Imaging System

artist rendering of swick zoom

SWiCK Zoom

LAMPS supercomputer

LAMMPS: Atomistic Simulation of Materials

computer scientists collaborate in meeting

Power API

View the 2018 Winners

High-fidelity adaptive deception & emulation system

High-fidelity Adaptive Deception & Emulation System (HADES) Platform

Solid sense gas analyzer on a chip

SolidSense “Gas Analyzer on a Chip”

control system for active damping of inter-area oscillations

Control System for Active Damping of Inter-area Oscillations

Microgrid design toolkit

Microgrid Design Toolkit

Ultra-wide band gap power electronic device

Ultra-Wide Bandgap Power Electronic Devices

View the 2017 Winners

falling particle receiver for concentrated solar energy

Falling Particle Receiver for Concentrated Solar Energy

ultra fast x-ray imager

Ultra-fast X-ray Imager (UXI)

transceiver for quantum keys and encription

Transceiver for Quantum Keys and Encryption (T-QUAKE)

pyomo v4.1 software code

Pyomo v4.1

stress-induced fabrication of functionally designed nanomaterials

Stress-Induced Fabrication of Functionally Designed Nanomaterials

precision high power battery tester

Precision High Power Battery Tester

View the 2016 Winners

CO2 Memzyme 2015

CO2 Memzyme

LED Pulser 2015

LED Pulser

Integrated Circuit Identification 2015

Integrated Circuit Identification

Lightweight Distributed Metric Service 2015

Lightweight Distributed Metric Service

Silicon Carbide JFET Switch 2015

Silicon Carbide JFET Switch

View the 2015 Winners

Membrane Projection Lithography publication snapshot 2014

Portable Diagnostic Device for Bacillus Anthracis Detection in Ultra-Low Resource Environments

Mantevo Suite 1.0 publication snapshot 2014

GOMA 6.0

Solar Glare Hazard Analysis Tool (SGHAT) publication snapshot 2014

Triple Harvesting Plastic Scintillators

View the 2014 Winners

2013 Membrane Projection Lithography publication snapshot

Membrane Projection Lithography

2013 Mantevo Suite 1.0 publication snapshot

Mantevo Suite 1.0

2013 Solar Glare Hazard Analysis Tool (SGHAT) publication snapshot

Solar Glare Hazard Analysis Tool (SGHAT)

View the 2013 Winners

Microsystems Enabled Photovoltaics publication snapshot 2012

Microsystems Enabled Photovoltaics

Neutristor publication snapshot 2012


Sandia Digital Microfluidic Hub publication snapshot 2012

Sandia Digital Microfluidic Hub

Sandia Cooler publication snapshot 2012

Sandia Cooler

View the 2012 Winners

Canary publication snapshot 2011

Biomimetic membranes for water purification

Micro Power Source publication snapshot 2011

Microresonator filters and frequency references

Multifunctional Optical Coatings publication snapshot 2011

Ultra-high-voltage Silicon Carbide Thyristor

View the 2011 Winners

Canary publication snapshot 2010

CANARY: Event Detection Software

Multifunctional Optical Coatings publication snapshot 2010

Multifunctional Optical Coatings

Acoustic Wave Biosensors publication snapshot 2010

Acoustic Wave Biosensors, Rapid Point-of-Care Medical Diagnostics

Micro Power Source publication snapshot 2010

Micro Power Source

Solution Deposition Planarization 2010

Solution Deposition Planarization (SDP), Superconductor Substrate Preparation Process

View the 2010 Winners

Ultralow-Power Silicon Microphotonic Communications Platform 2009

Ultralow-Power Silicon Microphotonic Communications Platform

Hyperspectral Confocal Fluorescence Microscope System 2009

Hyperspectral Confocal Fluorescence Microscope System

Hyperspectral Confocal Fluorescence Microscope System 2009

NanoCoral TM

Artificial Retina Project 2009

Artificial Retina Project

SiCPower Module 2009

SiCPower Module

Catamount N-Way 2009

Catamount N-Way (CNW) Lightweight Kernel

View the 2009 Winners

Xyce Parallel Electronic Simulator 2008

XyceTM Parallel Electronic Simulator 4.0.2

Silicon Micromachined Dimensional Calibration Artifact for Mesoscale Measurement Machines 2008

Silicon Micromachined Dimensional Calibration Artifact for Mesoscale Measurement Machines

Superhyrophobic Coating 2008

Superhydrophobic Coating

View the 2008 Winners

ArcSafe 2007

ArcSafe© with Pulsed Arrested Spark Discharge

Mode-Filtered Fiber Amplifier 2007

Mode-Filtered Fiber Amplifier

ElectroNeedle 2007

ElectroNeedle™ Biomedical Sensor Array

Self-Assembling Process for Fabricating Tailored Thin Films 2007

Self-Assembling Process for Fabricating Tailored Thin Films

Novint Falcon 2007

Novint Falcon and Novint/Sandia 3D-Touch Software (joint)

View the 2007 Winners

Compute Process Allocator 2006

Compute Process Allocator

HTSS10V 2006


View the 2006 Winners

Trackabk 2020


Tracktable is a set of trajectory analytics used to apply advanced machine learning techniques to large trajectory data sets. It enables searches for shapes and patterns in space and time by providing a mathematical framework to describe such patterns. Given that framework, Tracktable provides tools for fast search and categorizations in order to organize, search, and quickly analyze millions of patterns enabling the computer to group similar shapes together and to find unique or unusual trajectories without first requiring humans to define “normal”. Additionally, its ability to treat time as a variable, similar to space, enables searches for collective behavior and patterns over long periods of time. Finally, fast search techniques enable Tracktable to predict the paths and destinations of moving objects by comparing their observed paths to historical databases of trajectories. The notion of fundamentally representing the trajectory as a vector of “features” is the key idea that makes this approach different from previous trajectory analysis techniques.

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HECATE logo 2020
HECATE logo 2020

High-density Evaluator of COTS Applications for Trust and Efficacy (HECATE)

Sandia’s HECTATE platform is a multifaceted approach to providing varied and measured elements to accumulate trust in both compiled commercial products and opensource software. HECTATE is comprised of virtual and physical assets that integrate to create a wholly immersive environment to install, execute, excite and observe software. The target software is installed on virtualized machinery whose attributes have been modified to resemble physical devices. The platform is constructed such that inputs to the target software may “fuzzed” out-of-band through mechanisms that are not exigent on the virtual machine (VM); outputs from the excitation of inputs are then observed in a similar out-of-band fashion. These approaches are implemented without the use of agents making them observable from the guest VM, which allows the software to proceed unimpeded by observation. The system also allows the ability to fold time, facilitate external network connectivity and communication, and dynamically respond to benign, anomalous and suspected/confirms malicious behaviors.

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IDAES 2020

Institute for the Design of Advance Energy Systems (IDAES) Process Systems Engineering (PSE) Computational Framework

This next-generation multi-scale framework is a comprehensive, integrated set of PSE tools that support the design, modeling, and optimization of advanced energy systems from rigorous analysis to system-wide optimization. The tools have broad potential application, including the support of existing fossil generation systems, the design of new hybrid generation systems, or the evaluation of new technologies in the context of the broader power system.

Co-developing organizations: National Energy Technology Laboratory, Carnegie Mellon University, West Virginia University, and the University of Notre Dame.

The XRPBS splitting the x-ray beam to two detectors.

XRPBS: X-ray Polarizing Beam Splitter

XRPBS is the first x-ray polarizing beam splitter in existence. It has the ability to separate an x-ray beam in two in order to measure each polarized beam simultaneously, which makes it an outstanding diagnostic for many types of experiments and a valuable high-synchrotron resource for scientific research facilities.

Co-developing organizations: Nevada National Security Site, Argonne National Laboratory, and EcoPulse.

Legion: A Data-Centric Programming System

Legion is a data-centric HPC programming system and open-source software tool that boosts application performance and speed of computing by automating task scheduling and data movement.

Co-developing organizations: Los Alamos National Laboratory, NVIDIA University of California – Davis, Sandia National Laboratories, Stanford University, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory