News & Events

Invention of the Year

Each year the APL Office of Technology Transfer and the Office of Patent Counsel assemble an independent review panel to select winners from the hundreds of inventions representing the work of the past calendar year. The winning technologies are selected and celebrated based on their likely benefit to society, improvement over existing technology and commercial potential. Trophies and cash awards are presented to the winning inventors. There are also special awards granted for innovative contributions in different areas.

Contact Ms. N. Todd for additional information.

2012 Winners

In the calendar year 2012 there were 202 inventions disclosed at APL from 355 inventors.

Imagine of Invention of the Year winnersApparatus and Method for Identifying Related Code Variants in Binaries

CodeDNA is a novel technique that creates a compressed DNA-type fingerprint of a binary that represents the various types of instructions found in its code. It then compares this fingerprint to fingerprints of known malware, exposing any similarities between the binary's code and code in known malware.

  • Jonathan Cohen, Ryan Gardner, Laura Glendenning, Sakunthala Harshavardhana, Robert Hider, Margaret Lospinuso,Durward McDonell, David Patrone, Dennis Patrone, Nathan Reller, Benjamin Salazar, David Silberberg

Airport Radar Counter-Terrorism Protection System

RADAR jamming devices have become increasingly capable and are very affordable. These jammers sample and store a tracking RADAR’s signal. Airport RADAR systems may be overrun by these inexpensive jammers from terrorists. William has developed a system to detect and locate the source of the false repeats. 

  • William Geckle

2011 Winners

In the calendar year 2011 there were 259 inventions disclosed at APL from 460 inventors.

Image of Harry Eaton and Douglas WenstrandUltra-Compact Multitasking Motor Controller

APL researchers developed an extremely small computational engine, the Small Motor Controller, for the Revolutionizing Prosthetics program’s arm. The controller is electronically and physically paired with a correspondingly small motor; together, they fit completely within the confines of each digit and ensure the precisely coordinated movement of and feedback for the fingers, thumb, wrist components, and vibration sensors in the fingertips. The controller’s size and more efficient and compact functions will be crucial in the continued miniaturization of robots, autonomous vehicles, and medical devices.

  • Harry Eaton and Douglas Wenstrand

Image of Joshua Broadwater, Craig Carmen, Ashley Llorens receiving awardConstrained Probability of False Alarm Classification

A large margin classifier that directly maximizes true positive classifications at a desired false alarm rate via the inclusion of an optimization constraint on the estimated probability of false alarms. Unlike existing false alarm constrained classifiers (also called Neyman-Pearson or minimax classifiers) the APL approach allows the use of an arbitrary loss function and is applicable to nonlinear datasets that exhibit a high degree of class imbalance. 

  • Joshua Broadwater, Craig Carmen, Ashley Llorens


To see the listing of nominees, click here.

2010 Winners

In the calendar year 2010 there were 155 inventions disclosed at APL from 282 inventors. New this year is a Government Purpose Innovation Award which will recognize an invention that specifically meets a critical sponsor need.

Image of J. Benkoski, G. Coles, Jr., S. Hwang, R. Matteson, H. Tomey and M. Trexler receiving awardImplantable Pressure-Actuated Drug Delivery Systems and Methods

Coronary stents used to treat heart attacks sometimes abruptly clot. Conventional stent clot treatment includes emergency angioplasty, which is accompanied by relatively high mortality rates. Drugs released by conventional intracoronary drug-delivery systems are passive and cannot sense nor respond to new, abrupt environmental changes such as clotting. A team of researchers consisting of materials researchers at APL and physicians at JHMI has developed a small-scale, implantable, minimally invasive, and mechanically actuated drug-delivery system that overcomes the limitations of conventional implantable devices. The new drug-delivery system may be implemented alone and/or in combination with one or more other implant platforms, such as a coronary stent. The device does not require an external power source not a separate sensor, which is a significant improvement over conventional implantable devices.

  • Jason Benkosi, George Coles, Jr., Chao-Wei Hwang, Robert Matteson, III, Jon Resar, Hala Tomey, Morgana Trexler

Image of J. Klimek receiving awardGovernment Purpose Innovation Award:   Naturally Occurring Indigenous Sound Emulation

An APL electronics researcher has developed a novel bioacoustic ad-hoc communication system to enable the stealth deployment of unattended ground sensor networks of small robotic platforms. In order to overcome the limitations associated with radio frequency and optical communications methods, sounds which blend in with the natural environment for any given geographical area, for example sounds produced by insects, birds, and small mammals, are instead utilized. Information is encoded into the species "language" in a manner such that alterations are unperceivable by humans and other recording equipment. Specifically, a simple set of symbols and words are encoded into the audio that meet the minimum communication requirement for the effective queuing of assets. The development of a transmitter/receiver pair, along with signal processing techniques based on frequency, power, and size targets, is ongoing.

  • Johh Klimek


To see the listing of nominees, click here.

2009 Winners

In the calendar year 2009 there were 118 inventions disclosed at APL from 218 inventors.

Image of A. Feldman, J. Lin, M. Antoine, P. Demirev, N. Hagan receiving awardMass Spectrometry-Based Method and System to Establish Drug Resistance/Susceptibility in Microorganisms: 'IsoMS-Drug-Array'

Using mass spectrometry and in fewer than 6 hours, microorganisms can be detected and simultaneously characterized to determine their drug susceptibility or resistance. The method does not require prior identification of characterization of the organism and is easily multiplexed to parallel testing of multiple organisms, multiple drugs and multiple isotopes.

  • M. Antoine, P. Demirev, A. Feldman, N. Hagan, J. Lin


To read about the nominees, click here.

Master Inventor

Presented by Norma Lee Todd

The Master Inventor award recipient for 2009 was Mr. Micah A. Carlson in recognition for his 10 issued US patents while employed at APL. He is only the 24th person in the history of the laboratory to qualify for this award.

Mr. Carlson joined APL in 1996. Since then his research has resulted in patents covering time of flight mass spectrometers, detection of biological and chemical threats in mail and fluids, optical analyte sensors, and hand powdered medical suction devices. Our awardee has a BS in mechanical engineering from the University of Colorado and a MS in mechanical engineering from Johns Hopkins.

Accepting the award for Mr. Carlson was Dr. Dexter Smith.

Congratulations Mr. Carlson!

2008 Master Inventor Jack Roberts

2008 Winners

In the calendar year 2008 there were 129 inventions disclosed at APL from 222 inventors.

Image of L. Baird, J. Benkoski, A. Mason, J. Sample receiving awardTriggered Drug Release via Physiologically Responsive Polymers

A self-regulated, polymer based drug delivery system designed to perform the work of both a sensor and an automated dispenser. The technology is designed to make use of associative antibody-antigen bonds to hold together polymer chains into cross-linked macromolecular assemblies and to be triggered by the physiological production of biomakers.

  • L. Baird J. Benkoski A. Mason J. Sample

Image of H. Charles, A. Francomacaro, S. Lehtonen receiving awardUltra Thin, Flexible Multichip Modules Using Standard Microelectronic Assembly Techniques

An electrical substrate with superior dielectric properties that measure only 2 microns per dielectric layer. These layers, developed using cost-effective standard assembly techniques, are an order of magnitude thinner than the current state of the art for thin, printed wiring board material.

  • H. Charles A. Francomacaro A. Keeney S. Lehtonen

Master Inventor

Presented by Frank Cooch

In 2006 APL established the master inventor award to honor those employees named as an inventor on at least 10 us patents.  After a review of all APL patents from 1942 through 2006, we determined that 22 retired and active employees met the criteria for the award placing them in truly unique company. We presented their awards in 2007 and their names are inscribed on a plaque that hangs just outside the gate to enter the Gibson Library area.

In 2008, we reviewed the 37 patents issued in 2007 but even with the additional patents no one else qualified for the award.

Last year we had another 22 patents issue to the laboratory and this time one inventor, who we honor today, received his 10th patent.

Our awardee joined the lab in 1990. Since then his research has resulted in patents covering polymeric composite bone implants, bone substitutes for use in medical training and in torso models for measuring the effects of impacts, and materials for use in body armor. Our awardee has a PhD. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and, in addition to 10 patents, he has had over 100 refereed papers published and won the invention of the year award in 2005.

Over the years, he has been a frequent and welcomed visitor to our office and we are pleased that he is receiving this award today. Our 2009 master inventor award recipient, and only the 23rd person in the history of the laboratory to qualify for this award, is Dr. Jack C. Roberts.

Congratulations Dr. Roberts!

2008 Master Inventor Jack Roberts

2007 Winners

In the calendar year 2007, there were 125 inventions disclosed at APL from 177 inventors.

Image of Z. Mnatsakanyan receiving awardBayesian Information Fusion Network

The Bayesian Information Fusion Network is designed to reduce false alarms in networked disease-surveillance systems, specifically the APL-developed Electronic Surveillance System for Early Notification of Community-Based Epidemics (ESSENCE) deployed throughout the United States. The technique fuses information from multiple sources to determine whether certain statistical anomalies actually indicate an epidemic, automating how an epidemiologist would rule out certain results and conclusions.

  • Z. Mnatsakanyan

Image of Biermann, Leese, Maranch, Peck Srinivasan receiving awardNanotube Battery

A high-capacity, long lasting nanotube battery thinner than a human hair. Made primarily from metal or metal oxide and still in early testing, the batteries could find uses in structures, sensors, sensor networks, remote-controlled toys and vehicles, microprocessors, and controllers.

  • P. Biermann C. Leese J. Maranch G. Peck R. Srinivasan

Image of R Fink receiving awardPassive Forensic Identification of Networked TCP/IP Communication Endpoints

The technology "fingerprints" the timing characteristics of a networked computer to distinguish it from a group of similar computers by using passively observed timing difference in TCP packets.

  • R. Fink

Wave of Contribution

This special award is presented to an individual who has made significant contributions to the Lab's technology transfer and innovation efforts. This award has only been presented twice in APL history.

This year's recipient has 30+ years of experience the microelectronic arena, 40 invention disclosures, and 10 patents with several pending. He has published over 200 papers on electronic devices and packaging and has received numerous awards for best papers. He has 8 technologies licensed to 8 companies and has been the technical expert consultant in 3 patent lawsuits. Our recipient has also been a keynote speaker at Patents and Pizza, received the APL Invention of the Year for 2006 and APL Master Inventor Award for 2007.

Congratulations Dr. Harry Charles!
Role model, advocate, and teacher to a new generation of engineers, inventors, and innovators

Image of Wave of Contribution winner Harry Charles

2006 Winners

In the calendar year 2006, there were 125 inventions disclosed at APL from 190 inventors.

Portable Arc Flash Protection System

Portable system to detect and stop electrical fires caused by “arcing.” An arc fault is a short circuit that travels through the air between electrical conductors; an arc flash is the superheated blast of hot air and plasma that occurs when the arc strikes the conductors – and can lead to severe burns and other injuries. The APL system helps protect people working on “live” electrical systems from arc flashes, a critical need when severe arc flash injuries send about 2,000 workers a year to burn centers.

  • B. Land

Nanoporous Nucleic Acid Sensor

Electronic DNA-sensing method that could make it easier and more efficient to detect bacteria such as Bacillus anthracis – the dangerous pathogen that causes anthrax. The system, still in testing, requires none of the florescent dyes or optical readout equipment found in similar technologies. Its designers aim to make it small, robust and portable.

  • S. Papadakis

IOY2006 winnersAdvanced Thin Flexible Microelectronic Assemblies

Method of making flexible microelectronics, including a new process for multi-layer, thin-film substrates that are thinner and have a higher interconnect density than today’s commercially available materials. Flexible electronics offer advantages in their ruggedness, light weight, compact size and low power consumption. Their many potential uses include smart cards, active circuit appliqués and highly miniaturized and implantable biomedical devices.

  • H. Charles, Jr., C. Banda, A. Francomacaro, A. Keeney, S. Lehtonen

Lab Establishes Award to Honor Master Inventors
by J. Huergo
(The APL NEWS - April 2007)

The Lab will honor its most prolific inventors with the recently established Master Inventor Award during the Invention of the Year ceremony in the Kossiakoff Center on April 17, from 5–7 p.m.

The concept of the Master Inventor Award was first kicked around the Patents Section in APL’s Office of Counsel in the summer of 2006, says Section Supervisor F. Cooch. The group wanted to recognize Lab employees who consistently provide invention disclosures and diligently help take them through the patent process, which can be lengthy and time-consuming.

Cooch and his Patents Section colleagues, A. Fasulo, B. Roca, K. Asher and L. Swinney, worked with the Office of Technology Transfer to define a Master Inventor as someone holding 10 or more issued patents for inventions made while an employee of the Lab. Because this is the inaugural presentation of the award, the recipients include all qualified inventors since APL was established, through Dec. 31, 2006 “We went back to the beginning of the Lab to find out who would qualify, and we were surprised to learn there were only 21 people,” says Cooch.

The Lab is obligated under its government contracts to disclose inventions made with government funding. “But,” says Cooch, “the goal is to take technology invented here and get it into the marketplace to benefit the public, the Lab and the University.” Patents are frequently necessary for licensing and commercializing a technology, he says.

Nine of the awardees are current Lab employees, seven are retired, and five are deceased. For deceased awardees, family members have been invited to accept the awards on their behalf.

2007 Master InventorsJ. L. Abita (Ret.)
P. J. Biermann (TSD)
B. G. Carkhuff (TSD)
H. K. Charles Jr. (TSD)
T. J. Cornish (RTDC)
R. E. Fischell (Ret.)
H. W. Ko (NSTD)
S. Kongelbeck (Ret.-Deceased)
J. A. Krill (CL)
J. H. Kuck (Ret.-Deceased)
R. H. Lapp (Ret.-Deceased)
J. C. Murphy (Ret.)
G. M. Murray (TSD)
C. V. Nelson (NSTD)
E. L. Nooker (Ret.)
R. S. Potember (RTDC)
D. W. Rabenhorst (Ret.)
W. Seamone (Ret.)
C. J. Swet (Ret.)
G. Wilkes II (Ret.-Deceased)
T. Wyatt (Ret.-Deceased)

2005 Winners


Electrode Array for Determination of Specific Axonal Firing within a Peripheral Nerve

Device that may enable amputees to communicate reflexive movements simply by thinking about them. Precise stimulation is recreated by an array of electrodes implanted radially around the sheath of a peripheral nerve, each recording pulses that travel up and down nerve endings and using these to control the prosthesis.

  • P. Cutchis

Use of Protein Detector Accessory with Exhaled Breath Condensate

Mask and method that provides a rapid, sensitive and reliable method to diagnose diseases by collecting and analyzing proteins in the breath.

  • J. Jackman, N. Boggs

INFORMATION SCIENCE: Dust Storm Forecaster

Automated system that makes 72-hour forecasts of dust conditions and predicts the time, location and magnitude of dust storms. The prototype software model covers areas several hundreds to a thousand kilometers wide, peering in on Northern Africa, the Middle East and Southwest Asia. The software processes current data (from various government and academic sources) on weather conditions, soil moisture, ground cover and dust sources and generates a forecast displayed in colorful, detailed and easy-to-read maps.

  • B. Barnum, N. Winstead, R. Sterner

INNOVATIVE CONTRIBUTIONS to SPACE: Selection Circuit for Image Sensor and/or Position Sensing Detector

The apparent position of the sun is an important attitude measurement that virtually all spacecraft use, a measurement commonly made with a sensor known as a digital solar attitude detector (DSAD).With trends moving towards micro-satellites, components of these "next generation" space devices also need to be miniaturized. The first generation of a micro-DSAD promises to extend the accuracy of DSAD measurements. The new design is based on a patented approach that combines centroiding position-sensitive active-pixel architecture with standard imaging capability to provide optional "engineering channel" images.

  • K. Strohbehn, M. Martin

2004 Winners

PHYSICAL SCIENCE: Microwave/Radio Frequency Energy-Assisted Drug Delivery Device

Device that enables the efficient delivery of drugs, proteins, viral particles and other molecules of interest into a targeted tissue. Technology is based on a combination of high-frequency, high-power electromagnetic radiation and proprietary compounds that reversibly increase micro-vessel permeability.

  • H. A. Kues, E. J. Van Gieson

INFORMATION SCIENCE: 3-D Display with Walkthrough and “Virtual Visitation” Features for Command and Control Centers, Teleconferencing and Personal Communication

Concept for allowing viewers to become an interactive part of 3-D technology using liquid crystal display (LCD) goggles that could have military, medical and gaming applications. The technology marries cutting edge wireless and bandwidth capabilities with next-generation optics and displays, pulling the viewer “inside” the scene of whatever environment or program the system is running.

  • J. A. Krill

INNOVATIVE CONTRIBUTIONS to the MILITARY: Apparatus and Method for Providing Secure Multi-Channel Optical Laser Communications

A more effective and robust way to secure optical data links using narrow multiple laser beams to send and receive data, and Microelectro-Mechanical systems (MEMS) technology for accurately verifying the source of the transmission.

  • M. G. Bevan, B. G. Boone, A. G. Darrin, D. D. Duncan, R. M. Sova

2003 Winners

LIFE SCIENCE: Hydroxyl Free Radical Induced Decontamination of Spores, Viruses and Bacteria in a Dynamic System

A system to destroy airborne biological agents as they move through a building's heating and air conditioning ducts. The technology, which works without any special filtering that might impede airflow, uses a reaction chamber attached to a heating/ventilation/air-conditioning (HVAC) unit.

  • R. Potember, W. Bryden

PHYSICAL SCIENCE: Strain-Rate Sensitive Flexible Armor with Laminated Composite Elements

Soft body-armor vest is light enough to prevent fatigue after considerable use, flexible enough to allow ease of movement, but also rigid enough to stop automatic assault rifle bullets.

  • J. Roberts, P. Biermann, R. Reidy (University of North Texas)

INFORMATION SCIENCE: Method for Quantum Information Processing Using Single Photons and the Zeno Effect

A way to significantly reduce the number of errors in quantum computing calculations. Such errors occur mostly because of the seemingly random behavior of quantum computing bits, called "qubits." Their scheme of quantum information processing uses single photons as qubits, and fiber optic cables to efficiently transport qubits to a simple quantum logic type device.

  • J. Franson, B. Jacobs, T. Pittman

2002 Winners

LIFE SCIENCE: Portable Malaria Screening and Diagnosis Method

A rapid method of detecting very low levels of the malaria-causing parasite Plasmodium in blood.

  • P. Demirev, A. Feldman, D. Kongkasuriyachai (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health), N. Kumar (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health), P. Scholl (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health), D. Sullivan (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health)

PHYSICAL SCIENCE: Combined Chemical/Biological Agent Detection by Mass Spectrometry

Technology that combines both chemical and biological sample measurements in a single, time-of-flight mass spectrometer to dramatically reduce detection and identification times.

  • W. Bryden, S. Ecelberger, R. Cotter (The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine)

INFORMATION SCIENCE: Software for Automated Medical Records Coding

Software to overcome the problem of how to quickly compile hospital emergency room initial complaint records – usually written in nonstandard text, with inconsistent spelling, vocabulary and grammar – so they can be used to monitor geographic regions for indications of chemical or biological weapons attack.

  • C. Sniegoski

2001 Winners

WINNER: Method and Apparatus for Imaging and Spectroscopy of Tumors and Determination of the Efficacy of Anti-Tumor Drugs

An effective tool in the fight against cancer that uses infrared (thermal) imaging to detect metabolic tumor growth.

  • J. Murphy, R. Osiander, J. Williams (Johns Hopkins School of Medicine)

FINALIST: Selectively Permeable Molecularly Imprinted Polymer Membrane for Blood Iron, Environmental Nitrate and Phosphate Pollution Removal

A unique filtration technique that promises to provide the first-ever means for selectively and completely removing environmental phosphate and nitrates from the environment and iron from the blood of patients with dangerous levels of iron.

  • G. Murray

FINALIST: Wide Area Metal Detecting System and Metal Object Identification Using a 3-D Steerable Magnetic Field Antenna

A way to prescreen masses of people for weapons using a uses a series of closely spaced current-carrying wires configured as a horizontal magnetic field generator, and an array of magnetic field detectors.

  • C. Nelson

2000 Winners

WINNER: Plasminogen Activator to Prevent Haze After Laser Vision-Correction Surgery

Eye drops formulated to prevent "haze" from developing in the corneas of patients that have undergone laser vision-correction surgery.

  • D. Silver, A. Berta (University Medical School of Debrecen, Hungary), A. Csutak (University Medical School of Debrecen, Hungary), J. Tozser (University Medical School of Debrecen, Hungary)

FINALIST: Neural Network Intrusion Detection System

A system encompassing a hierarchy of neural networks that work in concert to detect cyber attacks against an enterprise's computer network.

  • S. Lee

FINALIST: Assessment of Tooth Structure Using Laser-Based Ultrasonics

A laser-based ultrasound system using short, high frequency pulses to image interior dental structures ­ including the interfaces between different layers ­ and detect early signs of decay.

  • D. Blodgett, K. Baldwin, D. Duncan

FINALIST: Detecting Rebar Corrosion in Reinforced Concrete Structures Using Modal Analysis

A process that uses sound waves to detect debonding of cement around corroding rebar. The sound waves cause the rebar to vibrate, sending acoustic waves to the surface of the concrete, where a laser vibrometer can detect them.

  • D. Blodgett, G. Vojtech

1999 Winners

WINNER: Molecularly Imprinted Polymer Sensors for Food Safety Applications

A simple, cost-effective molecularly imprinted polymer sensor to detect the presence of toxins, which emanate from spoiled food.

  • C. Kelly, G. Murray, M. Uy

FINALIST: Microwave and Acoustic Detection of Drowsiness

A detection system that senses the onset of drowsiness and tracks driver fatigue from a sensor positioned near the sun visor. The device uses Doppler radar and advanced signal processing techniques to measure fidget motion, blink rates, heartbeat and respiration that can give insight into the alertness of the driver.

  • M. Bevan, H. Kues, C. Nelson, P. Schuster

FINALIST: A Hybrid Software/Hardware Technique for High Speed Backplane Messaging

A message-oriented middleware system that makes integrating and developing multiprocessor systems much easier. APL's middleware invention provides real-time distribution of data using a type of interface, known as a publish-subscribe paradigm, to effortlessly distribute data.

  • P. Bade, S. Kahn, D. Verven

FINALIST: Rapid Chest Tube Inserter

A rapid chest tube inserter that simplifies and shortens the time required to insert a chest tube to safely and effectively evacuate the air and/or blood from the thorax with minimal risk of injury to internal structures.

  • R. Rosen, M.D. (Johns Hopkins School of Medicine), J. Murphy, C. Graham