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Sandia National Laboratories has created a technology that produces an antireflective (matte) surface on a silicon photovoltaic solar cell. The process uses a randomly deposited metal catalyst followed by reactive ion etching (RIE) to produce nanoscale surface features. The texture of the cells is more effective in solar absorption and, therefore, storage of energy. This nanoscale texturing is also a cost effective and environmentally safe tool for a renewable energy source.
The subwavelength (nanoscale) roughness presents a gradual interface between the air and the photovoltaic cell which reduces reflection loss, for high overall solar energy collection efficiency. In contrast to a chlorine-based etch process, this nanoscale texturing process is a cost effective alternative that uses nontoxic materials.
With the growing pressure placed on energy efficiency and reliance on fossil fuels, alternative sources of energy are increasingly important. The primary function can be used for the production of hydrogen but a similar process can be applied to create ammonia and propane production.
Our technology integrates three main components in the production process by integrating the boiler, superheater, and decomposition functions of sulfuric acid (H2SO4) to create sulfur dioxide(SO2) into a single unit. Additionally, our design solves the problem of corrosion due to the high temperatures and concentrated sulfuric acid with the combining the three processes into a single operation and using corrosion resistant components. The integration also makes the process highly efficient & economical by recovering and reusing the acid in the closed-loop process.
Sandia’s neutron scatter camera is an innovative design which combines the benefits of gamma ray imaging with fast neutron imaging. The camera detects special nuclear material (SNM) and rejects backgrounds from naturally occurring radiation sources that can produce false alarms. Additionally, the camera can detect and localize neutrons at greater distances and through shielding since fast neutrons are more penetrating than gamma rays. One of the key advantages is higher signal to background over non imaging detectors.
Sandia’s neutron camera design is sensitive, has good angular resolution, portable, and non hazardous. The design is scalable for shorter dwell times and longer stand-off detection.
The TacNet Tracker is designed to transport information securely via portable handheld units without the need for fixed infrastructure. The low profile device is easily worn to provide users with real-time location tracking, communication with other users, and shared information along a secure encrypted self-forming and self-healing network. This line-of-sight network is essentially a custom, privately owned Internet with the capability to self-form on a second-to-second basis. If a unit becomes separated (e.g., line-of-sight is lost), the remaining components “self-heal” the network by forming another path. Because of the mesh network’s multi-hopping capabilities, the TacNet Tracker can create secure paths around obstructions that might hinder a regular radio.
The device has similar communication and data-sharing capabilities as a laptop computer, but in a much more compact, lightweight format—approximately the size of a smartphone. The TacNet Tracker also provides additional functionalities—including Bluetooth communications, USB ports, and tracking with GPS or mesh positioning.
Insuring a constant supply of radioisotopes is of great importance to healthcare around the world. With the increase need for a stable US supply of medical isotopes, this technology can help alleviate this problem.
Sandia’s patented method and design is a new apparatus for the transmutation of isotopes which enables swift and flexible production on demand by using repetitive high energy pulsed power to achieve transmutation. This invention is based on a combination of high repetition rate high energy pulsed power supply and a magnetically-injected anode plasma source diode. This is used to provide pulsed particle beams having intermediate energy and average power levels of hundreds of kilowatts to megawatts. This will increase the rate of isotopic production by 2-3 orders of magnitude over processes based on conventional accelerators.
A large question preventing optimal natural gas production from "hydrofracked" shales is how far proppants, injected to keep shale fractures open, move into the gas-bearing shales. Knowing precisely where injected proppants go in the subsurface is the first step to optimizng the space of hydrofrack jobs.
Sandia National Laboratories researchers propose that subsurface proppant distribution can be imaged using single-well tracer techniques. By analyzing the lag time in appearance between interacting and inert tracers in hydrofrack flowback waters appearing at the wellhead, the extent of proppant movement can be estimated. The approach requires no new drilling and involves no hazardous chemicals.
Reliable determination of the presence and/or quantity of a particular analyte in the field can be greatly enhanced if the analytical instrument is equipped with a time-of-use calibration standard. While proper calibration is necessary for reliability and accuracy, it can be challenging and cumbersome to provide such calibration in the field using conventional methods found in analytical laboratories.
Sandia’s Microfabricated Field Calibration Assembly is a small, easy-to-use calibration source that can be integrated with field-portable instruments, or embedded in unattended remote sensors. The Field Calibration Assembly is designed at a small scale for incorporation into the intake or housing portion of a sensor or analytical instrument. The small size and placement are conducive to calibrating in the field with quantities as low as picograms.
Current dielectric materials are limited and unable to meet all operating, temperature, response frequency, size, and reliability requirements needed for uncooled high-reliability electronics. To address this problem, scientists at Sandia have developed a method for producing dielectric materials using engineered chemical disorder, creating semi-conductor material that outperforms what is currently available.
By developing a composition with dissimilar cations ((Ba,Bi)(Zn,Ti)O3), they created competing driving forces for crystallographic distortion resulting in a highly polarizable material. In addition to the structural distortion at the atomic level, the thermodynamics associated with mixing these systems lead to chemical disorder and gradients at the mesoscopic level during thermal processing. This multi-level chemical and structural frustration results in large permittivity level values that are stable across a wide range of operating temperatures (250ºC+) and applied electric fields. In turn, Sandia’s dielectric material possesses multiple advantages: 1) the material exists in a highly polarizable state; 2) results in a heterogeneous microstructure that aids in the dielectric properties; 3) high temperature resistivity; and 4) high temperature stability. Capacitors based on Sandia’s dielectric materials were developed for use in grid-tied storage; however, the resulting products will have various high operating temperature applications.
Microgrids are localized energy grids that provide flexibility through their ability to operate independently from the bulk power grid. Well-designed microgrids support resiliency, security, efficiency, local control, and increased access to renewable resources. Sandia’s Microgrid Design Toolkit (MDT) is a decision support software toolkit that aids designers in creating optimal microgrids.
Employing powerful algorithms and simulation capabilities, MDT searches the trade space of alternative microgrid designs based on user-defined objectives (e.g., cost, performance, and reliability) and produces a set of efficient microgrid solutions. MDT allows designers to investigate the simultaneous impacts of several design decisions and gain a quantitative understanding of the relationships between design objectives and trade-offs associated with alternative technological design decisions. MDT can account for grid-connected and islanded performance, power and component reliability in islanded mode, and dozens of parameters as part of the trade space search, and presents designers with an entire trade space of information from which to base final design decisions. Without MDT, designers rely on engineering judgment and perhaps a quantitative analysis of relatively few candidate designs. MDT allows designers to explore a larger field of options and provides defensible, quantitative evidence for design decisions.
Most biosensors in today’s market and in R&D require a critical sample preparation procedure prior to analysis of cellar contents such as nucleic acids and proteins. Technology is needed to release the cellular contents in a format compatible with nano/microfluidic and Point-of-Care (POC) devices.
Sandia National Laboratories has developed a miniature cell lysis system to overcome the limitations of current extraction methods. This system utilizes high-frequency compression waves with a wavelength similar to the size of cells, resulting in more efficient energy transfer. Unlike commercial acoustic transducers, our technology does not generate significant amounts of heat, making it compatible with protein assays. This technology releases viable DNA, RNA, and proteins from human or bacterial cells, without chemicals or additional processing, to enable high-speed sample preparation for clinical point-of-care (POC) medical diagnostics and use with nano/microfluidic devices.
Recent attention has focused on the preparedness of emergency reponse teams if a terrorist event involving chemical and biological warfare ever occured. This attention, along with the increased threat to national security, has led to the need for a readily available, easy to use product that would neutralize the adverse effects of these agents. This new technology addresses the need for a general formulation that neutralizes the effects of either chemical toxants or biological toxants. These include any chemical, substance, compound, or agent that can cause death, temporary incapacitation, or permanent harm to humans and animals.
This formulation contains solubilizing compounds, reactive compounds, and sorbent additives that allow the formulation to be pre-mixed and pre-packaged as a multi part kit system where one or more parts are packaged in a powdered, granulated form. The solubilizing agent serves to effectively render the toxant susceptible to attack, while the reactive compound serves to attack and neutralize the toxant. The sorbent additive is used to dry out the ingredients to allow for pre-packaging.
This formulation can be delivered in the form of foam, spray, liquid, gel, fogs, or aerosols. It does not contain or produce infection, significant adverse health effects, or fatility in animals. This allows for the product to address toxants found in agriculuture facilities, food processing facilities, Hazmat situations, and other non terrorism events.
Sandia's invention relates to a miniaturized mass spectrometer using a silicon chip field emitter array as the source of electrons for impact ionization of chemical species.
Sandia has developed an improved quadrupole mass spectrometer (QMS). The improvement lies in the substitution of the conventional hot flament electron source with a cold cathode field emitter array (FEA), which in turn, allows the operations of a small QMS at much higher internal pressures then are currently achievable. By eliminating the hot flament, problems such as the thermal "cracking of delicate analytes molecules, outgassing of a "hot" flament, high-power requirements, flament contamination by outgas species, and spurious electromagnetic fields are avoided altogether.