By University of Tennessee
The University of Tennessee College of Engineering recently got some good news, as R&D Magazine named two research groups to its list of finalists for the R&D 100.
The joint UT-Y12 Lithium Indium Diselenide Thermal Neutron Imager (LTNI) project includes Assistant Professor Eric Lukosi and Y-12 Joint Assistant Professor Ashley Stowe, both of nuclear engineering, while the joint UT-Oak Ridge National Laboratory Universal Grid Monitoring and Analyzing System (UGMAS) includes Governor’s Chair Yilu Liu, Research Assistant Professor Yong Liu, and Lingwei Zhan of electrical engineering and computer science.
A panel of judges and editors selected groups for inclusion as nominees based on the magazine’s determination of the most technologically significant products introduced in the past year.
“We’re very proud to have had two research teams involving our College of Engineering be nominated for this prestigious honor,” said Wayne Davis, dean of the college. “This highlights not only the hard work that they are doing, but also some of the good things we have going on here at UT.
“We wish them the best of luck.”
The UGMAS team’s innovation revolves around the ability to monitor the expansive electrical grid in real time.
Along with ORNL’s Marcus Young, Jose Gracia, and Tom King, the team developed a wide-reaching device that is practical, easy to use, and cost-effective. It is capable of performing a large number of analytic functions to process real-time and off-line data, allowing operators to better interpret the status of power grid operation, take proactive measures to prevent blackouts, and facilitate the integration of renewable energy sources.
“It’s a multifunctional cost-effective wide-area situational awareness system,” said Yong Liu. “It uses time-synchronized sensors to capture dynamic grid behaviors and monitor customer-end power quality.”
Advanced measurement techniques extend the sensor accuracy to orders of magnitude higher than the industry standards, while the use of both GPS and a chip-scale atomic clock as timing sources allows for unprecedented reliability.
Critically, the sensors operate on common 120-V power outlets and thus can be easily installed, allowing for a wide deployment of UGMAS to achieve a full view of a national-level power grid.
The LTNI team’s goal was to develop an imaging device that could render high-contrast, high-resolution thermal neutron images in a compact, flexible, and low-cost package.
The team—Y-12’s Brenden Wiggins, Daniel Hamm, and Elan Herrera; Arnold Burger of Fisk University; and Keivan Stassun of Vanderbilt University—developed lithium indium diselenide semiconducting neutron detection crystals, which can serve either for light collection (scintillation) or to measure current (semiconduction), and can be used as a single item or in an array.
The team is developing a technique in which changes in a neutron beam as it meets the crystals create an image, allowing researchers to study anything from polymers to fuel cells. The data can also be used to reconstruct a 3-D rendering of the object being studied.
“This system will allow for researchers to study things in very high resolution, while at the same time getting feedback and data faster,” Lukosi said. “Couple that with the longevity of the crystals and the design of the system, and it offers many advantages to scientists.”
The winners will be announced at the 2015 R&D Awards in Las Vegas in November.
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