Celebrating LLNL researchers on World Intellectual Property Day


World Intellectual Property (IP) Day is Friday, April 26.

World IP Day shines a light on the important role innovation plays in achieving the United Nations’ (UN) 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which aim to create a better future for everyone by protecting the planet. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s (LLNL)’s Innovation and Partnerships Office (IPO) is taking the opportunity to recognize the numerous Lab inventors — and their inspiring innovations — that are making the world a better place.

The encompassing term “IP” includes LLNL’s comprehensive patent estate, currently with more than 2,000 granted patents and filed patent applications and its collection of proprietary and open-source software, with more than 1,000 projects to date. Each illustrates how the Lab is working toward its mission with creativity and leveraging innovations discovered along the way to advance areas of private industry through tech transfer. Numerous examples of LLNL IP show how the Lab is striving toward goals that align with many of the UN’s SDGs, particularly those that target climate change mitigation, sustainable energy and human health.

Highlights of LLNL innovation protected with intellectual property

Of the current patents and active patent applications, the dominant area at LLNL is within the advanced manufacturing space.

The inventors with the most families of U.S. patented inventions under their belts — Eric Duoss and Chris Spadaccini from Engineering and Joshua Kuntz and Marcus Worsley from Physical and Life Sciences — often team up on advanced materials and additive manufacturing research.

“Intellectual property development and patents have become critical to establishing credibility in materials and manufacturing as well as for any realistic technology transfer,” said Materials Engineering Division Leader Spadaccini. “Our partners in IPO have been outstanding to work with over the years and helped to champion many of our ideas. This has been both a professional and personal pleasure, as IP is something from which we derive great individual and team accomplishment.”

Due to strong collaboration, these researchers collectively have more than 200 granted patents and filed patent applications, which accounts for around 10% of LLNL’s complete patent estate. This collection includes technologies that use additive manufacturing, a powerful technique providing the design freedom necessary for fabricating the intricately complex components in next-generation batteries and electrochemical reactors that can convert carbon dioxide and other gases to useful materials. Other inventions are related to aerogels, a class of advanced materials that could be used for electrical energy storage as well as hydrogen storage and generation; Ted Baumann and Juergen Biener also are on multiple patents in this research area.

Many of these advanced manufacturing innovations support the Lab’s Carbon Initiative, which aims to develop and implement global-scale carbon capture technologies. LLNL inventors Roger Aines, Sarah Baker, Duoss and Simon Pang are among the leads for this initiative.

Members of LLNL’s Diffractive Optics Group with four HELD gratings, technology which won a 2022 R&D 100 Award.

The second most prevalent portfolio is lasers and optics.

This is no surprise as the National Ignition Facility & Photon Science Directorate continues to lead the world in laser and optics technology, as demonstrated through LLNL’s achievement of fusion ignition, which could be a small step toward clean fusion energy. With 50 years of groundbreaking laser research, LLNL IP includes advances in optics, amplification devices and laser technology. Recent patented innovations include the Spectral Beam Combiner grating optic assembly with megawatt power handling capabilities and the award-winning HELD grating technology, which enables a new class of high-energy 10-petawatt ultrafast laser systems.

Many LLNL technologies address environmental issues, such as water treatment and remediation of flue gases.

LLNL researchers, including inventors Michael Stadermann and Patrick Campbell, have been developing various treatment approaches including flow through electrode capacitive deionization, which was first developed in the 1990s using aerogel electrodes as well as membranes for gas separations. In addition, although he is typically a co-inventor on multiple patents related to high-power electronics and semiconductors, Lars Voss is part of the team that recently developed a water purification method that removes organic contaminants using photocatalysis.

LLNL biologist Nicholas Fischer was a key developer of nanolipoprotein particles (NLPs), which won a 2024 Federal Laboratory Consortium tech transfer award. (Photo: Blaise Douros/LLNL)

Lastly, patents related to life sciences, biotechnology and healthcare have proven impactful through successful technology transfer and industry partnerships.  

An award-winning technology that came out of LLNL is shape memory polymer (SMP) foam. The technology, developed by Tom Wilson and former LLNL physicist Duncan Maitland, is the foundation for the FDA-cleared IMPEDE embolization plug. Two other recent examples include the award-winning patented nanolipoprotein particles (NLPs), led by Nicholas Fischer and the copyrighted ECP-CANDLE project, for which Fred Streitz and Brian Van Essen are the LLNL leads. These IP-protected technologies could lead to vaccines and therapeutics for a variety of diseases.

Learn more about LLNL IP and how to work with IPO at the LLNL IPO website.

Melissa Lewelling & Charlotte Eng