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June 2002

The Laboratory
in the News

Commentary by
Bert Weinstein

A Two-Pronged Attack on Bioterrorism

Adaptive Optics Sharpen the View from Earth

Experiments
Re-Create X Rays from Comets

Chemistry—
50 Years of Exploring the Material World

Patents

Awards

 

Patents

James E. Trebes, Gary F. Stone, Perry M. Bell, Ronald B. Robinson, Victor I. Chornenky
Miniature X-Ray Source
U.S. Patent 6,353,658 B1
March 5, 2002
A miniature x-ray source capable of producing a broad spectrum x-ray emission over a wide range of x-ray energies. The miniature x-ray source comprises a compact vacuum tube assembly containing a cathode, an anode, a high-voltage feedthrough for delivering high voltage to the anode, a getter for maintaining high vacuum, a connection for an initial vacuum pumpdown and crimpoff, and a high-voltage connection for attaching a compact high-voltage cable to the high-voltage feedthrough. At least a portion of the vacuum tube wall is highly x-ray transparent and made, for example, of boron nitride. The compact size and potential for remote operation allow the x-ray source, for example, to be placed adjacent to a material sample undergoing analysis or for medical applications in proximity to the region to be treated.

Daniel M. Makowiecki, John A. Kerns, Craig S. Alford, Mark A. McKernan
Sputtering Process and Apparatus for Coating Powders
U.S. Patent 6,355,146 B1
March 12, 2002
A process and apparatus for coating small particles and fibers. The process involves agitation by vibrating or tumbling the particles or fibers to promote coating uniformly, removing adsorbed gases and static charges from the particles or fibers by an initial plasma cleaning, and coating the particles or fibers with one or more coatings. The first coating is an adhesion coating, and subsequent coatings are deposited in situ to prevent contamination at layer interfaces. The first coating is of an adhesion-forming element (tungsten, zirconium, rhenium, chromium, titanium) and is 100 to 10,000 nanometers thick. The second, or final, coating is multiple elements (copper or silver, for example, for brazing processes, or other desired materials). It is 0.1 to 10 micrometers thick and defines the new surface-related properties of the particles. An essential feature of the coating process is the capability to deposit the coating in situ without interruption to prevent the formation of a contaminated interface that could adversely affect the coating adhesion. The process may include screening of the material to be coated and either continuous or intermittent vibration to prevent agglomeration of the material to be coated.

Jose E. Hernandez, Jackson C. Koo
System and Method for 100% Moisture and Basis Weight Measurement of Moving Paper
U.S. Patent 6,355,931 B1
March 12, 2002
A system for characterizing a set of properties for a moving substance. The system includes a first near-infrared linear array, a second near-infrared linear array, a first filter transparent to a first absorption wavelength emitted by the moving substance and juxtaposed between the substance and the first array, a second filter blocking the first absorption wavelength emitted by the moving substance and juxtaposed between the substance and the second array, and a computational device for characterizing the resulting data from the arrays. The method includes the steps of filtering out a first absorption wavelength emitted by a substance, monitoring the first absorption wavelength with a first near-infrared linear array, blocking the first wavelength from reaching a second near-infrared linear array, and characterizing data from the arrays into information on a property of the substance.

Ai-Quoc Pham, Robert S. Glass, Tae H. Lee
Colloidal Spray Method for Low Cost Thin Coating Deposition
U.S. Patent 6,358,567 B2
March 19, 2002
A dense or porous coating of material is deposited onto a substrate by forcing a colloidal suspension through an ultrasonic nebulizer and spraying a fine mist of particles in a carrier medium onto a sufficiently heated substrate. The spraying rate is essentially matched to the evaporation rate of the carrier liquid from the substrate to produce a coating that is uniformly distributed over the surface of the substrate. Following deposition to a sufficient coating thickness, a single sintering step may be used to produce a dense ceramic coating. This method allows coatings ranging in thickness from about one to several hundred micrometers. Also, because the method uses a plurality of compounds in the colloidal suspension, coatings of mixed composition can be obtained. Because the method uses a plurality of solutions, separate pumps, a single or multiple ultrasonic nebulizers, and varying individual pumping rates and/or concentrations of the solutions, a coating of mixed and discontinuously graded (stepped) or continuously graded layers may be obtained. This method is particularly useful for depositing dense ceramic coatings on porous substrates for improving electrode performance in high-power-density solid-oxide fuel cells and on gas turbine blades, sensors, and steam electrolyzers. The invention has general use in preparation of systems requiring durable and chemically resistant coatings and for coatings having other specific chemical or physical properties.

Sandra L. McCutchen-Maloney
Chimeric Proteins for Detection and Quantitation of DNA Mutations, DNA Sequence Variations, DNA Damage and DNA Mismatches
U.S. Patent 6,365,355, B1
April 2, 2002
Chimeric proteins having both DNA mutation binding activity and nuclease activity are synthesized by recombinant technology. The proteins are of the general formula A-L-B and B-L-A, where A is a peptide having DNA mutation binding activity, L is a linker, and B is a peptide having nuclease activity. The chimeric proteins are useful for detection and identification of DNA sequence variations, such as DNA mutations (including DNA damage and mismatches) by binding to a mutation and cutting the DNA once the mutation
is detected.

Steven L. Hunter, Carl O. Boro, Alvis Farris
Tiltmeter Leveling Mechanism
U.S. Patent 6,370,784
April 16, 2002
A tiltmeter device having a pair of orthogonally disposed tilt sensors that can be leveled within an inner housing containing the sensors. An outer housing can be rotated to level at least one sensor of the pair while the inner housing can be rotated to level the other sensor. The sensors are typically rotated up to ±100 degrees. The device is effective for measuring tilts of wells at various angles of inclination and can be used to level a platform containing a third sensor.

Michael D. Perry, Paul S. Banks, Brent C. Stuart
Ultrashort Pulse Laser Deposition of Thin Films
U.S. Patent 6,372,103 B1
April 16, 2002
Short-pulsed laser deposition is a viable technique for producing high-quality films with properties close to those of crystalline diamond. The plasma generated using femtosecond lasers is composed of single-atom ions with no clusters producing films with high diamond-to-graphite content. Using a high-average-power femtosecond laser system, this invention dramatically increases deposition rates up to 25 micrometers per hour (which exceeds the rate of many chemical vapor deposition processes) and produces particulate-free films. In the present invention, deposition rate is a function of laser wavelength, laser fluence, laser spot size, and target–substrate separation. The relevant laser parameters ensure particulate-free growth, and characterizations of the films grown are made using several diagnostic techniques, including electron-energy-loss spectroscopy and Raman spectroscopy.

James C. Davidson, Joseph W. Balch
Plates for Vacuum Thermal Fusion
U.S. Patent 6,372,328 B1
April 16, 2002
A process for effectively bonding plates or substrates of arbitrary size or shape. The plates or substrates can be glass, plastic, or alloy with a moderate melting point and a gradual softening point curve. The process incorporates vacuum pull-down techniques to ensure uniform surface contact during the bonding process. The essence of the process involves the application of an active vacuum source to evacuate interstices between the substrates while providing a positive force to hold the parts to be bonded in contact. This process allows the temperature of the bonding process to be increased to ensure that the softening point has been reached; it also permits small void areas to be filled and come in contact with the opposing plate or substrate. The process is most effective when at least one of the two plates or substrates contains channels or grooves that can be used to apply vacuum between the plates or substrates during the thermal bonding cycle. Also, providing a vacuum groove or channel near the perimeter of the plates or substrates is beneficial to ensure bonding of the perimeter of the plates or substrates and to reduce the unbonded regions inside the interior region of the plates or substrates.

 

 

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