AUTM Updates

R&D 100 Awards Showcase University Partnerships

A low-cost and sustainable process for producing titanium powder. A motor drive for a hybrid electric passenger airplane. A wearable device that mimics thermal sensation in amputees. Technologies like these developed by nine academic partnerships earned top honors in this year’s R&D 100 Awards.

This worldwide competition focused on research and development, now in its 61st year, received entries from 15 countries/regions. This year, the judging panel included 45 well-respected industry professionals from across the globe. The awards will be presented in November at a ceremony in Coronado, California.

In the IT/Electrical category, a team led by the University of Arkansas won for its silicon carbide motor drive for hybrid electric aircraft. The technology is used during taxi, takeoff and cruising to minimize fossil fuel use. The collaboration also included the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Wolfspeed, and Ampaire.

“This has major implications for the new and emerging era of electrification of transportation vehicles, whether they be planes, trains, automobiles, heavy equipment, ships or drones,” said Alan Mantooth, Distinguished Professor of electrical engineering and executive director of the National Center for Reliable Electric Power Transmission at U of A in February after the technology’s first successful test flight. “We’re extremely excited about this work.”

In the same category, a team led by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory scored a win for its wearable thin-film thermoelectric cooling device for prosthetics and haptics. In trials with amputees, the technology elicited cooling sensations in the phantom limbs of all participants during a cold detection task, whereas traditional thermoelectric technology only did so in half of them. JHAPL researchers collaborated with a team at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences on the technology.

“In several recent trials, our wearable thin-film thermoelectric cooling device has been incredibly successful at delivering fast, intense cooling sensations that match the human body’s natural ability to sense temperature,” said Rama Venkatasubramanian, Chief Technologist for the thermoelectrics area at JHAPL. “We’ve spent years in the lab developing and optimizing this technology, and to see the immediate impact it has had on human users has been one of the most exciting developments of my career.”
In the Process/Prototyping category, the University of Utah and IperionX were recognized for their hydrogen-assisted metallothermic reduction (HAMR) process for producing titanium powder—a metal used in both additive manufacturing and traditional manufacturing for applications including aerospace, defense and biomedical. IperionX currently uses the process to produce titanium powder at a facility in Salt Lake City, Utah, and plans to build a larger production facility in Virginia.

Universities and research institutions also contributed to the development of these award-winning technologies:

Noncontact Laser Ultrasound (NCLUS) for Medical Imaging
Led by MIT Lincoln Laboratory in partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital and Sound & Bright

Physics-Informed, Active Learning–Driven Autonomous Microscopy for Science Discovery
Led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory in partnership with University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Transformer Watchman
Led by the National Energy Technology Lab, in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh and Sensible Photonics

Hyperspectral X-ray Imaging Detector 
Led by Los Alamos National Laboratory, in partnership with the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of Colorado, Boulder

Grid Regulation Delivered by Aggregations of Loads (GRID-BAL)
Led by Los Alamos National Laboratory, in partnership with the University of Michigan, the University of California, Berkeley and Pecan Street Inc.

MALA: Materials Learning Algorithms
Led by Sandia National Labs, in partnership with the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (Germany)

View the full list of winners