Sandians take home five R&D 100 Awards

By Neal Singer

Friday, December 08, 2017

The R&D 100 Awards are considered a globally prestigious recognition of invention and innovation.

Here are the five Sandia recipients:

  • HADES: The High-Fidelity Adaptive Deception & Emulation System
  • Ultra-Wide-Bandgap Power Electronics
  • The Microgrid Design Toolkit
  • SolidSense Gas Analyzer (with the University of New Mexico)
  • Control System for Active Damping of Inter-Area Oscillations (with Montana Tech and the Bonneville Power Administration)

Sandia researchers captured five R&D 100 Awards for 2017, in the annual international technical competition that includes researchers from universities, corporations, and government labs.

The awards are sponsored by R&D Magazine, which has announced approximately 5,000 winners since 1963. The honors go to researchers deemed by the magazine’s editors and judging panels to have developed the year’s 100 most outstanding advances in applied technologies.

The awards focus on practical impact rather than pure research and reward entrants on their products’ design, development, testing, and production.

The winning applications were announced Nov. 17 in a formal presentation in Orlando, Florida. The Sandia winners were:


HADES, the High-fidelity Adaptive Deception & Emulation System platform, led by Vince Urias, Will Stout, and Caleb Loverro. HADES creates alternative realities that radically improve the way cybersecurity practitioners protect their networks and gain insight about adversaries. The platform enables subtle changes to realistic environments of as many as 10,000 machines, creating a far richer deception than honeypots and other techniques. Because of this, a prolonged deception encourages adversaries to stay long enough to reveal their intent, tools, and tactics. As the process plays out, HADES automatically collects adversarial information and passes it on to network defenders. The work was supported by the Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) program.

Ultra-Wide Bandgap Power Electronic Devices

Ultra-Wide Bandgap Power Electronic Devices, led by Bob Kaplar, Andy Armstrong, Andy Allerman, Art Fischer, Mary Crawford, Albert Baca, Jason Neely, Jack Flicker, Olga Spahn, Vipin Gupta, and Jerry Simmons. These aluminum gallium nitride diodes and transistors are first steps in a possible revolution in power electronics, and can be used as building blocks to construct next-generation systems for transferring electrical power more efficiently from a source to a load and for converting voltages, currents, and frequencies from one value to another. The invention may provide switching speeds 10 times faster than the current state-of-the-art, resulting in a commensurate increase in power density by enabling shrinking of passive components in power converters. Ultra-high blocking voltages — the maximum voltage that can be placed across a device and still have it function as intended — are a possibility. The devices can also function at higher operating temperatures than current devices and in high radiation environments such as outer space. The work was supported by an LDRD Grand Challenge.

Microgrid Design Toolkit

The Microgrid Design Toolkit, led by John Eddy, Elizabeth Lopez, Jason Stamp, Karina Munoz-Ramos, Jared Gearhart, Bryan Arguello, Katherine Jones, Alisa Bandlow, and Nadine Miner. Microgrids are localized electric grids that can disconnect from the traditional grid to operate autonomously. Interest in microgrids has grown quickly in light of aging electrical infrastructures more prone to outages and for which maintenance costs are steadily rising. Because microgrids can operate while the main grid is down, they provide a means for orderly recovery from power emergencies that may affect communities, critical infrastructures, and local governments. The independent power-supply units can strengthen grid resilience and help mitigate grid disturbances as well as function as a grid resource for faster system response and recovery. The Sandia decision-support software provides users with the information needed to create preliminary microgrid designs that optimize performance, reliability, and cost. The toolkit, available as a free download from DOE, appears to be a significant advance over other available tools. It helps designers create microgrids that can provide power effectively during times of emergency and emergency recovery.  The work was funded by the DOE Office of Electricity and the US Marine Corps.

SolidSense “Gas Analyzer on a Chip”

The SolidSense “Gas Analyzer on a Chip,” led by Fernando Garzon, Lindsey Evans, and University of New Mexico postdoctoral fellows Lok-kun Tsui and Angelica Benadvidez. The robust sensor platform combines electrochemical sensing techniques with neural network machine learning to demonstrate the first small, inexpensive, robust, high temperature, on-vehicle sensor that reliably detects and characterizes all EPA-regulated automobile emissions gases. The device enables the continuous optimization of combustion chemistry, control of catalytic converter chemistry, and monitoring of exhaust chemistry at the tailpipe. This could open the door to innovative new engine designs and, potentially, cleaner and more fuel-efficient automobiles. The approach can be modified to monitor ambient air quality, characterize the chemistry of power plant smokestack emissions, detect explosives compounds in shipping containers and luggage, monitor the freshness of spoilable food in a refrigerator, and address numerous other sensing challenges. The sensor is the first of its kind to operate in hostile high-temperature environments without the need for cooling or filtration. It can be mass produced at low cost. The work was co-funded by Sandia LDRD and the University of New Mexico.

Control System for Active Damping of Inter-Area Oscillations

Control System for Active Damping of Inter-Area Oscillations, joint with Montana Tech University and the Bonneville Power Administration, led by David Schoenwald, Brian Pierre, Felipe Wilches-Bernal, Ryan Elliott, Ray Byrne, Jason Neely; also, Dan Trudnowski (Montana Tech) and Dmitry Kosterev (Bonneville Power Administration).

Today, many electric power grids operate well below transmission capacity to avoid widespread outages due to inter-area oscillations. The new control system improves electric power grid reliability by continuously damping these oscillations. This promotes greater power transfer. This system is the first successful grid demonstration of feedback control using real-time wide-area measurements, and can transform the existing grid into the future smart grid. The latency problem — the time delay due to the communications network that transmits the measurement data — was solved with an innovative design that minimizes round-trip delay to less than 100 milliseconds, while commanding a range of total power equal to that of twenty 737 jet engines at full throttle, or enough power to satisfy the power consumption of nearly 200,000 homes, roughly the number of households in a city the size of Albuquerque. The work was funded by the Bonneville Power Administration, with matching funds from the DOE Office of Electricity’s Transmission Reliability and Energy Storage programs.