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Lab/industry team to improve health, materials and manufacturing

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March 19, 1998 Share This!

RICHLAND, Wash. — Department of Energy Secretary Federico Peña announced today that Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has been awarded $2.1 million to work with industry on three projects, with benefits ranging from new disease identification methods to improved glass production.

Collaborations will take place over a three-year period and include matched industrial support of $2.6 million from IBM, Corning and Texas firms SEMATECH and Genometrix.

Coordinated through DOE's Laboratory/Industry Technology Research program, the funding is earmarked for projects that address challenging scientific problems and hold promise for near-term commercial applications. In all, 16 awards were presented to five DOE laboratories totaling nearly $12 million in federal funding and $17 million in industry support.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory projects include:

New Materials For Faster Semiconductor Devices

Pacific Northwest will team with SEMATECH of Austin, Texas, to develop new materials to meet the high performance needs of next generation semiconductor devices, including advanced microprocessors. Through the $1.5 million project, collaborators will investigate the use of mesoporous silica as an improved insulating material between metal conduction lines on semiconductor chips. The material is porous and uniform in structure and can be formed into thin films, potentially resulting in semiconductor devices that operate at much higher speeds while consuming less power. Use of the new material also is expected to result in significant savings in fabrication costs -- up to $500 million annually. DOE and SEMATECH each will contribute $750,000 over three years.

Advanced Modeling and Visualization to Improve Glass Production

In the glass industry, there is a need to cost-effectively test and improve manufacturing processes to produce high quality products with minimal waste. Because testing can be difficult, time-consuming and costly, industry is interested in developing advanced computer simulation capabilities to complement laboratory efforts. Through this $1.4 million project, Pacific Northwest will collaborate with researchers from the Universities of Colorado and Minnesota, IBM and Corning to create software to simulate the glass manufacturing process more accurately. Pacific Northwest and university researchers will develop the algorithms and software for modeling on massively parallel computers; IBM's T.J. Watson Research Center, Waltham, Mass., will provide visualization software and expertise; and Corning, based in Corning, N.Y., will test models against known results. The research team will receive $625,000 from DOE, $600,000 from IBM and $240,000 from Corning.

Many health and environmental processes rely on the rapid and accurate detection of microorganisms, from wastewater treatment and disease diagnosis to the ensured safety of our food supply. While recently developed gene-based diagnostics and detectors have greatly improved microorganism detection and characterization, actual use has been limited by the extensive time and high costs associated with manual DNA preparation and analysis. However, Pacific Northwest has automated the process for environmental applications, such as bioremediation studies, reducing the procedure time from days to a matter of minutes. This $1.8 million project will enable Pacific Northwest and Genometrix, The Woodlands, Texas, to integrate sample preparation and analysis with state-of-the-art gene detection technology. The research will expand the range of clinical applications for DNA-based technology and bring new tools to environmental and other applications, from pathogen detection in food and agriculture to real-time monitoring of bacteria used in pharmaceutical development. DOE will contribute $750,000 in addition to approximately $1.1 million from Genometrix.

Tags: Energy

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