Eight Argonne technologies are among those chosen as winners and finalists in the ​Oscars of Innovation.”

Five technologies developed by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory and partner organizations have been named as 2020 R&100 Award winners; three others have been named as finalists.

For 56 years, the R&100 Awards have served as the nation’s most prestigious innovation awards program, honoring R&D pioneers and their revolutionary ideas in science and technology. Argonne scientists have received more than 130 R&100 Awards since the competition began. Past winners include Fortune 500 companies, DOE national laboratories, academic institutions and smaller companies.

The Argonne technologies described below were among those chosen as winners and finalists by an independent panel of more than 40 industry leaders. Both finalists and winners were recognized at a virtual 2020 R&100 Conference on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.

Resilience Analysis and Planning Tool (RAPT)

Carol Freeman, Carmella Burdi, Kyle Burke Pfeiffer and Lesley Edgemon

The RAPT is a geographic information system (GIS) tool to help emergency managers and community partners at all GIS skill levels visualize and assess potential challenges to community resilience. It includes information about vulnerable populations, infrastructure systems, hazards and indicators of resilience derived from Argonne’s Community Resilience Indicator Analysis (CRIA).

RAPT and the CRIA were co-developed by the Argonne team and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Benjamin Rance and Karen Marsh. RAPT is one example of how DOE national laboratories can successfully partner with other U.S. federal departments and agencies to tackle analytically challenging problems. RAPT, used by local, state, tribal, territorial, federal, private sector and nonprofit public safety officials, has been widely applied for pre-landfall hurricane planning, contingency planning for COVID-19, post-tornado incident analysis and many other steady-state and operational planning activities.

The work on RAPT was sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security’s FEMA.


Laura Adochio, Matt Wolf, John Hutchison, Matt Berry, Dave Dickinson, Debra Frederick, Andrew Huttenga, Nathan Rinsema, Edward Honour and Deborah Wadas

Security professionals face a wide range of threats to their facilities and operations. The Argonne team developed the TIDE facility threat assessment tool that allows security professionals to more quickly and cost-effectively evaluate threats to their facilities and identify threat-specific mitigation options. Overall, TIDE provides a customized, defensible and repeatable threat assessment that security professionals can use with confidence when making recommendations to stakeholders. The TIDE solution eliminates the subjective or text-based evaluations associated with other approaches.

TIDE software evaluates multiple sources of information to provide a complete picture of the potential criminal and terrorist threats to a facility. These sources include information obtained during facility security assessments; open-source information; threat and intelligence reports; and federal, state and local criminal databases. TIDE also leverages historical attacks, the modus operandi of threat actors and other threat-related information in developing a risk profile for a facility. TIDE was developed to translate the critical thinking of human subject-matter experts into computer code whose automatic operation remains faithful to the complex collective judgments of such experts.

The work on TIDE was sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Protective Service.

ElectroCorrosion Toolkit

Vineeth Kumar Gattu, William L. Ebert, and J. Ernesto Indacochea

Materials corrosion increases costs and threatens operations in the commercial, industrial, medical, defense, civil, and nuclear sectors, among many others. Researchers need an array of tools in their arsenal to combat this problem. The ElectroCorrosion Toolkit™ developed by the Argonne team and J. Ernesto Indacochea (University of Illinois at Chicago) is a testing protocol that accurately predicts the corrosion behavior of materials in different service environments, enabling manufacturers to reliably evaluate and characterize their materials and coatings. The toolkit, developed with support from the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy and Argonne Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) and Launchpad programs:

  • Can be used for homogeneous materials, multiphase alloys, alloy/ceramic composites and coated materials;
  • Is sensitive to the effects of physiological or environmental variables;
  • Provides information for formulating and optimizing material compositions;
  • Enables long-term modeling by providing reliable corrosion rates related to the material, chemical surroundings and phase composition at the corroding surface; and
  • Can relate the electrochemical corrosion behavior to the release rates of radionuclides from nuclear waste forms (in long-term buried nuclear waste applications).

Versatile Method for Preparing Highly Effective Electrocatalyst for CO2 to Chemical Conversion

Di-Jia Liu and Haiping Xu

Through an electrochemical reduction reaction, carbon dioxide (CO2) can be converted to valuable products such as ethanol, acetone, acetate, formate and others in a circular carbon economy. Conventional thermal conversion methods involve elevated temperatures and large-footprint chemical plants. This electrochemical CO2 reduction system innovation operates under low temperature and pressure and is easily scalable to the source of emission, offering an attractive alternative. The key challenges for an effective CO2 reduction reaction catalyst include high selectivity toward a single product and low energy consumption.

In an effort supported by Argonne LDRD funding, Argonne scientist Di-Jia Liu and postdoc Haiping Xu, together with Tao Xu and Dominic Rebollar of Northern Illinois University, developed a family of electrocatalysts that can convert CO2 and water to value-added chemicals with high selectivity and energy efficiency. Such catalysts open up the feasibility of reusing the CO2 sequestered from power plant and fermentation facility emissions, as well as concentrated CO2 directly captured from air as the feedstock for chemical production.

XRPBS: X-ray Polarizing Beam Splitter

Michael J. Wojcik

Synchrotron-based hard X-ray beams have enabled extraordinary breakthroughs in probing nanometer-scale scientific phenomena. Two instruments used at these X-ray sources — X-ray polarizers and X-ray beam splitters — have been invaluable in these scientific advances.

A new tool developed by a team that includes Radu Presura (P.I.), Mathew Wallace and Showera Haque from the Nevada National Security Site and Argonne’s Michael Wojcik combines these two instruments in the first-ever X-ray polarizing beam splitter (XRPBS). The XRPBS uses a single cubic crystal to separate an incoming X-ray beam into two polarized beams, enabling the measurement of both components simultaneously. The technology relies on asymmetric reflections on two internal planes of a crystal to split an X-ray beam into two components according to their polarization. The tool can be used for plasma diagnostics and for analyzing the linear polarization state of an X-ray beam and can be used in reverse to combine two X-ray beams into one.

The XRPBS project was supported by DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration and Sandia National Laboratories and used the resources of Argonne’s Advanced Photon Source, a DOE Office of Science User Facility.

Argobots: A Lightweight and Highly Flexible Threading Framework

Pavan Balaji and Shintaro Iwasaki

As modern massively parallel computers operating at lightning speeds become the norm, new software tools that can meet the demands of such systems are required. To help meet this challenge, Argonne’s Pavan Balaji and Shintaro Iwasaki developed Argobots, an extremely lightweight threading framework that achieves unprecedented performance, high flexibility and scheduling customizability. Although it was officially released only a few months ago, Argobots is already powering the development of numerous popular software products (Intel DAOS, Mochi, HDF5, OmpSs and XcalableMP). Argobots is supported by several parallel programming systems, including major MPI and OpenMP implementations, and it plays an important role as an interoperability layer that connects parallel systems across multiple software stacks.

Leading supercomputing facilities around the world — including the fastest supercomputer in the world (Fugaku, Japan) and several of the upcoming exascale supercomputers in the United States and China — are using Argobots because it enables them to unleash the computing power of modern massively parallel machines.

The Argobots work was funded by DOE’s Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research and Exascale Computing Project.

Battery Performance and Cost (BatPaC)

Shabbir Ahmed, Paul Nelson, Kevin Gallagher, Joseph Kubal, Dennis Dees, Juhyun Song and David Robertson

Lithium-ion batteries represent one promising pathway to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving vehicle fuel economy. BatPaC, developed by Paul Nelson and a team of Argonne researchers led by Shabbir Ahmed, allows researchers around the world to translate their bench-scale lithium-ion battery research results to real-world battery dimensions and cost.

BatPaC examines the tradeoffs that result from different user requirements, such as power (vehicle acceleration) and energy (vehicle electric range), enabling researchers to design a lithium-ion battery pack for electric and hybrid light-duty vehicles and estimate the price that an automobile manufacturer may have to pay for the battery pack. This one-of-a-kind, free, public domain model captures the interplay between the design and cost of these batteries for transportation applications. The model will help researchers find the fastest and most effective pathways to building a better battery.

BatPaC was funded by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Vehicle Technology Office (VTO). We would like to acknowledge the support of David Howell and Brian Cunningham at EERE/VTO.

Software Defined Networking Multiple Operating System Rotational Environment—Moving-Target Defense (SMORE-MTD)

Joshua Lyle and Nate Evans

Cybersecurity issues are a day-to-day struggle for businesses and organizations. Keeping information secure can be a herculean task. SMORE-MTD, developed by Argonne’s Joshua Lyle and Nate Evans with laboratory funding, defends against cybersecurity attacks by using software-defined networking to manipulate network paths that service user requests.

By randomly selecting which server and service will respond to a given user’s request, SMORE-MTD makes it more difficult for an attacker to identify which services to attack. SMORE-MTD also increases organizations’ resilience by preventing an attacker exploit from being routed to the vulnerable software, forcing attackers into repeated attacks that are more likely to be noticed. SMORE-MTD also eliminates the need to install and maintain configuration software on each host in rotation, which reduces complexity and increases the amount of software available for use.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://​ener​gy​.gov/​s​c​ience.