Patents

Nicholas J. Colella and Joseph R. Kimbrough
Radiation-Tolerant Imaging Device
U.S. Patent 5,576,561
November 19, 1996
An apparatus and method for improving the performance of charge-coupled devices (CCDs) in the presence of ionizing radiation. A wafer-scale charge isolation technique inhibits or reduces the flow of electrons created by the passage of ionizing radiation in the bulk regions of a silicon CCD. Used in devices operating in the infrared wavelength band, the technique prevents a charge from reaching the active charge collection volume of a pixel in a CCD. Because the only process changes required are at the wafer level, a manufacturer's normal semiconductor processing and testing can be applied; incremental costs are minimal.

John F. Cooper
Production of Zinc Pellets
U.S. Patent 5,578,183
November 26, 1996
A method for producing zinc pellets of uniform size and shape for use in zinc-air fuel cells having a stationary or moving slurry zinc particle electrode. The method involves the cathodic deposition of zinc from zinc-containing electrolyte, a zinc-air-fuel-cell reaction product. The zinc is deposited on an electrode substrate to which the zinc does not adhere, e.g., stainless steel or magnesium. The mossy zinc may be removed from the electrode substrate by the action of gravity, entrainment in a flowing electrolyte, or mechanical action. The finely divided zinc particles are pressed into pellets and are returned to the fuel cell in a pumped slurry.


Thomas J. Karr and Lee C. Pittenger
Projectile Stopping System
U.S. Patent 5,578,784
November 26, 1996
A projectile interceptor that launches a projectile catcher into the path of a projectile. Signals indicative of the path of a projectile are received by the projectile interceptor. A flinger mechanism has a projectile catcher that can be launched from the flinger mechanism. A controller connected to the flinger mechanism uses the signals indicative of the path of the projectile to determine the launch parameters of the projectile catcher. The controller directs the flinger mechanism to release the projectile catcher, launch it into the path of the projectile, and intercept the projectile.


Glenn A. Meyer and Marcus A. Schildbach
Carbide and Carbonitride Surface Treatment Method for Refractory Metals
U.S. Patent 5,580,397
December 3, 1996
A process for the refractory treating of the surfaces of metal components used in aerospace, automotive, petroleum, and chemical processing applications to improve abrasion and corrosion resistance. The components are placed in a reaction chamber, which is evacuated and heated to 800-1,400°ree;C. A reaction mixture of nitrogen gas and hydrogen gas and/or water vapor is induced into the chamber and maintained at a partial pressure at which a carbide or carbonitride surface preferentially forms on the component. The mixture is held at that partial pressure long enough for the surface that forms to harden.


Thomas E. McEwan
Range Gated Strip Proximity Sensor
U.S. Patent 5,581,256
December 3, 1996
A sensor using one set of sensor electronics and a distributed antenna or strip that extends along a perimeter to be sensed. A micropower radio-frequency transmitter transmits a sequence of pulses on the strip to form a sensor field. A receiver and detector circuit at the opposite end of the strip detect motion or presence within a sharply bounded radial region around the strip by mixing the radiofrequency signal carried on the line with reflected signal from a target. The strip forms a leaky transmission line. The detection range is continuously adjustable from nearly zero to several tens of feet by changing the duration of the radio-frequency pulses, which last less than 10 nanoseconds. The sensor is particularly suitable for low-cost volume applications, such as automotive parking assistance and home security.


Conrad M. Yu
Microminiature Gas Chromatograph
U.S. Patent 5,583,281
December 10, 1996
A microminiature device used to identify the molecular composition of a gas. It features a gas injector system that is contained within two silicon wafers bonded together and that includes two normally open injector valves and one normally closed injector valve, The valves are made of flexible silicon nitride. Carrier gas is drawn through the normally open valves into a gas chamber. A pressure pulse forces a membrane to bulge down into the chamber, which then forces the normally open valves to close and the carrier gas to flow through a channel, past the normally closed valve and into the analysis column. Sample gas to be analyzed is pumped into the injector system at a higher pressure than that of the carrier gas and opens the normally closed silicon carbide valve. The sample gas flows into the channel and thence to the column for separation analysis.





Awards

George Caporaso, Kwok-Tsang Cheng, Alex Friedman, Dieter Schneider, Thomas Weaver, and George Zimmerman were named Fellows of the American Physical Society.
Caporaso, project leader for the Advanced Radiography Machine/Experimental Test Accelerator-II Project, was cited by the APS for "original contributions to the design and analysis of high-current electron accelerators, especially for instability studies which have greatly extended the utility of induction linacs."
Cheng, a designer in the Defense and Nuclear Techologies Directorate, was cited for "important contributions to the theory of atomic structure and dynamics, particularly to the understanding of relativistic and quantum-electrodynamic effects in highly charged ions."
Friedman, who is a project leader for fusion research, was cited for "innovations in computer modeling of fusion plasmas, laser-plasma interactions and charged particle beams, and design of high space charge accelerator components."
Schneider, a physicist in the Physics and Space Technology Directorate, was cited for "contributions to the understanding of ion-atom collisions through electron spectroscopy and for his experiments elucidating the collision dynamics of very highly charged ions."
Weaver, a physicist in the Physics and Space Technology Directorate, was elected because of "his crucial contributions to our understanding of massive stars and their evolution, supernovae, and the origins of the chemical elements."
Zimmerman, leader for the Inertial Confinement Fusion Code Development Group in the Physics and Space Technology Directorate, was cited for "his creation, and subsequent development of the LASNEX simulation code, which has been used extensively to guide the development of the National ICF Program, from its inception to this day."

John Nuckolls, former Laboratory Director, and Charles McDonald, Associate Director at Large, will receive the Secretary of Defense Outstanding Public Service Award for their help in conducting the first-ever assessment of the health of the nation's nuclear stockpile. The U.S. Strategic Command announced that they were among the eight recipients being honored for their work as members of the Strategic Advisory Group.

Laboratory employees have garnered three awards for excellence in technologies that led to products in the marketplace from the Federal Laboratory Consortium of Sequim, Washington. The winners, all of whom are from the Laser Programs Directorate, are: physicists Luis Zapata and Lloyd Hackel and former Laboratory technology transfer official Damon Matteo for their work with Intevac Inc. of Rocklin, California, on a machine to help manufacture flat-panel displays; electronics engineer Tom McEwan, now a part-time consultant for the Laboratory, with technicians Pat Welsh and Greg Dallum, for their assistance to companies that have licensed McEwan's popular short-pulse micropower impulse radar as an electronic dipstick; and physicists Booth Myers and Hao-lin Chen along with engineers Glenn Meyer and Dino Ciarlo for collaborating with American International Technologies Inc. of Torrance, California, in developing a new electron-beam system for processing materials.

Theoretical physicist Charles Alcock is the recipient of the 1996 E. O. Lawrence Award in physics for his distinguished leadership in the hunt for dark matter, a leading mystery in astronomy. The award, which is presented annually by the Department of Energy, cites Alcock's "scientific and technological leadership in making the first definitive observations of massive compact halo objects (MACHOs) that may account for a significant fraction of dark matter in the universe." (See the April 1996 S&TR, pp. 6-11, for a report on Alcock's work.)
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