News & Events
Invention of the Year
Each year the APL Office of Technology Transfer assembles 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, commercial potential or their response to a critical sponsor need. Plaques and cash awards are presented to the winning inventors during APL’s Technical Achievement Awards event. This event also recognizes and awards other innovative contributions seen within mission accomplishments, publications, and research projects.
Contact Norma Lee Todd for additional information.
In the calendar year 2016 there were 272 inventions disclosed at APL from 493 inventors.
Surface Modified Anti-cancer Responsive Theranostic (SMART)
Using nanoplatforms, JHU/APL developed a novel method of delivering and controlling diagnostic, drug delivery and therapeutic compounds. Using this method, nanoparticle structures can be functionalized to increase efficacy, improve administration options and minimize side-effects of many previously problematic compounds.
- Xiomara Calderon-Colon, Lance Baird
High-Temperature, Oxidation-Resistant Silicide Surface for Industrial-Scale Refractory Structures in Oxidizing Atmospheres
Success of hypersonic flight systems hinges on the development of oxidation-resistant materials that can survive the significant aerothermal loads experienced during these flights. This technology uses industrial-scale methods to chemically bond high-temperature, oxidation-resistant materials to the flight vehicle – mitigating failures normally associated with mechanically-adhered coatings.
- William Buchta, Dajie Zhang
Presented by Jerry Krill
Russell Cain became the 27th person to qualify to become an APL Master Inventor. He received an award in recognition for his 10 issued US patents while employed at APL.
Russell Cain joined the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in 1988 from Texas Instruments where he was a Senior DSP Designer. As Principal Professional Staff, he is a Senior Electrical/Computer/Systems Engineer in the Health Systems Engineering Group of the Research & Exploratory Development Department. Russ has supported numerous projects in VLSI, biomedical, space, counter-proliferation, transportation, and submarine technologies. His patents focus on unique sensor integration and data acquisition systems. Russ has Bachelors of Science in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from UVa, Masters of Science in Electrical Engineering from SMU, and Masters of Science in Computer Science from JHU and is an Adjunct Professor in Computer Science Department at UMBC.
View the Master Inventor video.
In the calendar year 2015 there were 271 inventions disclosed at APL from 395 inventors.
Novel Water Filtration Membranes
Access to safe drinking water is a critical issue affecting people worldwide. Xia and Ward have developed a cost effective, multi-functional water purification membrane that can simultaneously remove pathogens and toxic heavy metals, such as lead, arsenic, mercury and cadmium. The membrane can be retrofit into existing filtration systems and its antifouling capabilities ensure effectiveness and greatly extend replacement cycles beyond what is currently available.
- Brad Ward and Zhiyong Xia
Advanced RF Jamming Techniques
Traditional jamming techniques are commonly used for generating only simple stationary false targets. Song and Magnani have developed an advanced RF jamming prototype using sophisticated techniques that provide a more realistic representation of false targets. This technique has the potential to significantly enhance RF jamming effectiveness in complex environments.
- Tim Magnani and Jay Song
In the calendar year 2014 there were 230 inventions disclosed at APL from 373 inventors.
Vertically Grooved Electrode Wells for Nerve Growth Guidance to an Electrode Contact
Millions of people in the US live without a limb. Advanced prosthetic technology provides tactile limb feedback and fine motor control, increasing resolution with direct connections to nerves of the peripheral nervous system. APL scientists used advances in tissue engineering and nerve outgrowth control to encourage nerve growth into an array of electrode wells radically increasing the number of interfaced nerves.
- Jason Tiffany
Deception for Defense: Apply Traditional Camouflage Techniques Adapted to Cyber Network Defense
JHU/APL has developed a technology to strengthen network defenses through the use of virtualized, sensored decoy assets to increase the scope, scale and complexity of a defended environment. The technology takes the initiative away from the adversary by causing confusion and delays in exploitation operations while enabling early detection.
- Patrick Allen and Steven Handy
To read about the nominees, click here.
Presented by Norma Lee Todd
Charles Kerechanin became the 26th person to qualify to become an APL Master Inventor. He received an award in recognition for his 11 issued US patents while employed at APL.
Charles Kerechanin joined the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in 2000, where he is currently a Senior Mechanical Engineer in the Force Projection Sector leading the mechanical design of autonomous sensor systems. Since joining the Laboratory, Mr. Kerechanin has worked on an array of projects for which he holds patents, including several underwater sensors, an environmental monitoring system, a biological sampling device, a man portable medical ventilator, an anti-fouling coating for cast polymers and a technique for joining irregular surfaces. He earned both his Bachelors and Masters of Science in Mechanical Engineering from The Ohio State University in 1998 and 2000.
View the Master Inventor video.
In the calendar year 2013 there were 254 inventions disclosed at APL from 370 inventors.
System and Method to Rapidly Design Viral Vaccines to Prevent Vaccine Failure
Existing vaccines are designed to protect against viruses that are already infecting humans and animals. Viruses quickly adapt to resist vaccines and immune systems, and new vaccines currently take years to develop. APL’s technology speeds up this process and can predict new viruses even before they exist.
- Andrew Feldman and Jeffrey Lin
Aircraft and Sensor Product Geo-Registration in GPS-Denied Environments
Algorithms were developed to perform geo-registration for aerial surveillance and reconnaissance in a GPS-denied environment.
- Mason Baron, Gregory Barr, and James Cochran
To read about the nominees, click here.
Presented by Norma Lee Todd
Dr. Rengaswamy Srinivasan became the 25th person to qualify to become an APL Master Inventor. he received an award in recognition for his 10 issued US patents while employed at APL.
Dr. Srinivasan joined the Johns Hopkins University as a Research Scientist in 1987 and APL in 1989. Since then his collaborative work with APL staff and industry collaborators have resulted in US patents in a variety of fields including lithium battery internal state monitors, battery in nanotubes, electrochemical analyte sensor for detecting malaria, wireless multi-functional sensor platform for remote and autonomous applications, sensors for measuring slat and corrosion rate in concrete structures, coating health monitor, corrosion inhibitors for stainless steel and aluminum alloys, scalable all polymer fuel cells, apparatus to map corrosion-protection currents in concrete bridge decks and locating buried objects such as plastic mines in soil. In addition to the ten patents, Srinivasan has published over fifty papers in peer-reviewed journals across all the fields mentioned above. Srinivasan has a Ph. D. in Chemistry from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India; MS from the Banaras Hindu University, India; and BS from the University of Madras, India.
Congratulations Dr. Srinivasan!
View the Master Inventor video.
In the calendar year 2012 there were 202 inventions disclosed at APL from 355 inventors.
Apparatus 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
William has developed a system which can detect and locate the source of signals generated by radar-jamming devices.
- William Geckle
In the calendar year 2011 there were 259 inventions disclosed at APL from 460 inventors.
Ultra-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
Constrained 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.
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.
Implantable 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 Benkoski, George Coles, Jr., Chao-Wei Hwang, Robert Matteson, III, Jon Resar, Hala Tomey, Morgana Trexler
Government 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.
- John Klimek
To see the listing of nominees, click here.
In the calendar year 2009 there were 118 inventions disclosed at APL from 218 inventors.
Mass 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.
In the calendar year 2008 there were 129 inventions disclosed at APL from 222 inventors.
Triggered 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
Ultra 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
In the calendar year 2007, there were 125 inventions disclosed at APL from 177 inventors.
Bayesian 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
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
Passive 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!
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
Advanced 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
PHYSICAL SCIENCE: (Tie)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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