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Story from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Sept. 2014

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OPTICS Precision projectile tracker

Rifle optical sighting systems with a 19th century heritage could blast into modern times with a laser-based bullet tracking system being developed by a team led by Slobodan Rajic of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. As envisioned, the technology would employ a sight with an eye-safe laser that tracks the bullet as it travels at speeds approaching 1,000 meters per second, rotating 4,000 times per second on its path to the target. The system would provide crucial bullet point of impact information at a range of up to one mile and could be used to correct the aim-point for a second shot. This technology is based on low-cost components and would result in much higher probability of a successful second shot. This work was funded by ORNL's internal seed money program. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

MEDICAL Needles in the eye

Surgeons treating the millions of people who suffer from a variety of eye conditions, including recurrent corneal erosions, have a new instrument its developers believe will result in better outcomes. Plexitome is a corneal instrument that acts as thousands of microscopic needles to imprint the patient's corneal tissue, allowing the tissue to heal more quickly and completely. The instrument, being commercialized by Nanophthalmics of Memphis, was designed by a team that includes Oak Ridge National Laboratory researcher Chuck Britton and Edward Chaum, an ophthalmologist and Plough Foundation professor at the University of Tennessee Hamilton Eye Institute. The instrument allows surgeons to pierce and engage human tissue at the microscale. Unlike conventional scissors, needles and forceps, Plexitome is specifically designed for the patient's unique pathology. With it, surgeons gain greater precision and can engage tissue at the cellular scale, minimizing the risk of damaging deeper tissue. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

VEHICLES Connected to savings

Drivers, their wallets and the environment could benefit from a connected vehicle system that could collectively save them from wasting 5.5 billion hours in traffic jams and nearly 3 billion gallons of fuel. A team led by Andreas Malikopoulos of Oak Ridge National Laboratory is developing a math-based system that exchanges information with other vehicles and drivers, local infrastructure and traffic signals while also sensing driving patterns of individual drivers. Aside from the benefits of reduced fuel consumption and emissions, connecting vehicles could save lives and reduce the need to build additional lanes and highways. A 2012 Texas A&M Transportation Institute study pegged the U.S. cost of snarled traffic and wasted fuel at $121 billion. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

COMPUTING Titan's protg

For students learning about multicore computers like Titan, the second-most powerful computer in the world, Tiny Titan can make the task a bit more manageable. The sub-$1,000 classroom computer can help middle and high school students explore the fundamental concepts of parallel computing, which is the key to Titan and its 299,008 cores. Working together, these cores can perform 27,000 trillion calculations per second (27 petaflops), allowing it to tackle some of today's biggest computational challenges. Tiny Titan, which has nine processors, is equipped with an Xbox controller that allows students to interact with a particle-based fluid simulation to understand how multiple computers collaborate on a scientific problem. The tabletop-sized Tiny Titan will be showcased Sept. 16 in Washington, D.C., at the Advanced Science and Engineering through High-Performance Computing National Lab Day. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]


Contact: Ron Walli
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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