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US Department of Energy National Science Bowl

Back to EurekAlert! A Service of the American Association for the Advancement of Science


Security technologies meet the needs of industry

Personal Security Scanner

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A device that identifies contents in sealed containers and a system that can diagnose engine problems while the equipment is operating are among several innovative technologies developed for national security applications and moved into the marketplace by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

PNNL conducts scientific research in energy, the environment, national security, information technology and health, making an effort to commercialize technologies so they can help solve critical problems for industry and society.

"We're involved in every aspect of this process, from creating, identifying, evaluating and protecting intellectual property that could be commercialized, to helping promising technologies mature and eventually become deployed through licensing agreements or the creation of new ventures," said Gary Morgan, commercialization manager for PNNL's National Security Directorate.

Examples of recent matches:

  • The Lab-in-a-Box technology was recently licensed to Belhaven Applied Technologies in Kennewick, Wash. Lab-in-a-Box, originally designed for military engines, is an innovative fluid analysis/diagnostics technology that will provide equipment owners valuable information about the condition of engine and drive machinery--while the equipment is in operation.

  • The Acoustic Inspection Device (AID) has been licensed to Mehl, Griffin and Bartek. AID uses ultrasound to examine and identify contents of sealed containers. U.S. Customs sponsored this commercialization, but since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, interest in homeland security applications is developing rapidly.

    Secure Safe

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  • The Personal Security Scanner has been licensed to Safeview  Menloow Park, Calif. The holographic imaging system can identify metallic and nonmetallic objects concealed under clothing, and also has the potential for detecting plastic explosives. X-ray imaging systems subject the body to ionizing radiation; however the holographic imaging system's millimeter-wave scanning technique is harmless. The system was developed for the Federal Aviation Administration to screen airline passengers for weapons.

  • The same scanning technology, already commercialized for security scanning, is being readied for custom-fit apparel applications. The scanner would allow consumers the ability to store their body measurements in the computer and to use designer software to "virtually" tailor and try on designer clothes in the convenience of their own homes.

  • Radio Frequency Tag technology was licensed in 2000 to a spin-off company, Wave ID, which was created to develop and sell Radio Frequency (RF) Identification systems. RF tags are wireless communication devices that have exceptionally long range, vary in size, and can be designed to identify and locate or monitor items for inventory and asset tracking. Within a year, Wave ID was purchased by Alien Technology, a high-tech electronics manufacturing company based in the Silicon Valley.

  • Secure Safe, also known as Smart Safe, is designed to ensure that safes, security containers or any locked cabinets are properly closed and secured prior to the user leaving the room. PNNL is putting this technology to use in its own facilities as well as other U.S. Department of Energy facilities to help prevent human errors when handling classified materials.



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