Three Pacific Northwest National Laboratory inventions win R&D 100 Awards

RICHLAND, Wash.--Three Pacific Northwest National Laboratory inventions have made the 2003 list of the world's 100 most important scientific and technical innovations, according to an annual competition by R&D Magazine. This brings the PNNL R&D 100 Awards total to 62 since the contest's inception in 1969, 55 of them since 1988.

The Department of Energy laboratory was recognized for PASS, a handheld tool that enlists ultrasound pulses to assay the contents of sealed containers without having to open them; for Starlight, an information visualization system--software that graphically depicts connections among disparate pieces of information from large, complex and dynamic collections; and for FT-MS Proteome Express, an instrument that may trim years off the time required to analyze a proteome, or the entire protein set of an organism.

Customs inspectors and international border agents are using the PNNL-developed Acoustic Inspection Device to identify contents within sealed containers. (6"x4" 300 dpi image available from PNNL's Photo Library ).

PASS, or Product Acoustic Signature System, works by bouncing sound off a container's contents, then collecting a telltale echo from what's inside. An official can run PASS, which looks like a power drill crossed with a blow-dryer, over a tanker truck or barrel to distinguish crude oil from vegetable oil or chemical weapons agents. The device can also unmask hidden packages, reveal secret compartments and determine a container's fill level. PASS can save time and protect law enforcement and border inspectors from potentially hazardous materials. Aaron Diaz, PNNL senior research scientist, led the development of the PASS technology, which is licensed to Mehl, Griffin, & Bartek Ltd. of Crystal City, Va. MGB shares the award.

Starlight was originally developed for the U.S. intelligence community to identify terrorist threats. That same technology can elicit relationships in a diverse array of a

Contact: Greg Koller
DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

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