Technology Transfer

APL Achievement Awards

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 response to a critical sponsor need. Plaques and cash awards are presented to the winning inventors during APL’s annual Achievement Awards event. This event also recognizes and awards other innovative contributions seen within mission accomplishments, publications, and research projects.

2018 Winners

In the calendar year 2018, 549 APL staff members were nominated in 118 entries for 23 awards, and a record 123 staff members were recognized for their successes.

Invention of the Year: Coherent, Optical System for Noninvasive, Real-Time Imaging of Neural Tissue and Other Biological Systems

David W. Blodgett, Matthew S. Fifer, Scott M. Hendrickson, Alice F. Jackson, Erik C. Johnson, Tomasz M. Kott, Clare W. Lau, Griffin W. Milsap, Jeremiah J. Wathen, and Michael E. Wolmetz

This new optical system noninvasively extracts anatomical and functional information from biological systems, including the brain. Originally developed for undersea operations, the system provides real-time access to magnitude and phase information about the brain, advancing understanding of structure and function; producing clinical insights into injury and disease diagnoses, prognoses, and treatment; and facilitating brain-computer interface applications.

Government Purpose Innovation Award: Dead Center

Eric A. Forte, Christopher M. Gifford, Sean T. Happel, Stephen A. Hayes, Zachary D. Kurtz, Patricia K. Murphy, Clifford I. Olsen, Pedro A. Rodriguez Jr., Thomas T. Shaw, and Adam S. Watkins

The team created an onboard space-based automatic target recognition system that can respond in real time for time-critical missions.

2017 Winners

In the calendar year 2017, 487 inventors disclosed a total of 355 inventions at APL.

Invention of the Year: Thiol-ene-Based Polymer Electrolytes for Safe, High-Performance Flexible Aqueous Batteries

Adam W. Freeman, Konstantinos Gerasopoulos, and Christopher M. Hoffman

In a few years, annual global lithium-ion battery production will surge from 30 to 200 gigawatt hours, despite being inherently dangerous. For safety, lithium-ion batteries require stringent packaging and thermal management systems—adding weight and rigid form factors. APL’s approach provides a safe, flexible, and stretchable alternative.

Government Purpose Innovation Award: Low-Cost Air Defense Munition

Robert L. Fry and Martin C. Priess

Fry and Priess created a missile optical fuze that could provide a game-changing, affordable defense against swarms of hostiles.

Master Inventor: Leo R. Gauthier

Leo Gauthier is the 28th person to receive this award. He earned the designation when he was awarded his 10th U.S. patent while employed at APL.

2016 Winners

In the calendar year 2016, 493 inventors disclosed a total of 272 inventions at APL.

Invention of the Year: Surface Modified Anti-cancer Responsive Theranostic (SMART)

Xiomara Calderon-Colon and Lance Baird

Using nanoplatforms, 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 the side effects of many previously problematic compounds.

Government Purpose Innovation Award: High-Temperature, Oxidation-Resistant Silicide Surface for Industrial-Scale Refractory Structures in Oxidizing Atmospheres

William Buchta and Dajie Zhang

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.

Master Inventor: Russell Cain

Russell Cain became the 27th person to qualify to become an APL Master Inventor. He received an award in recognition of his ten issued U.S. patents while employed at APL.

Russell Cain joined APL in 1988. He previously worked at Texas Instruments, where he was a Senior DSP Designer. Russ is a member of the Laboratory’s Principal Professional Staff and a senior electrical/computer/systems engineer in the Health Systems Engineering Group of the Research and Exploratory Development Department. He has supported numerous projects involving very-large-scale integration, biomedical, space, counter-proliferation, transportation, and submarine technologies. His patents focus on unique sensor integration and data acquisition systems. Russ has a B.S. in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of Virginia, an M.S. in electrical engineering from Southern Methodist University, and an M.S. in computer science from the Johns Hopkins University. He is an adjunct professor in the Computer Science Department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

2015 Winners

In the calendar year 2015, 395 inventors disclosed a total of 271 inventions at APL.

Invention of the Year: Novel Water Filtration Membranes

Brad Ward and Zhiyong Xia

Access to safe drinking water is a critical issue affecting people worldwide. Xia and Ward have developed a cost-effective, multifunctional 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.

Government Purpose Innovation Award: Advanced RF Jamming Techniques

Tim Magnani and Jay Song

Traditional jamming techniques are commonly used for generating only simple stationary false targets. Song and Magnani have developed an advanced radio frequency (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.

2014 Winners

In the calendar year 2014, 373 inventors disclosed a total of 230 inventions at APL.

Invention of the Year: Vertically Grooved Electrode Wells for Nerve Growth Guidance to an Electrode Contact

Jason Tiffany

Millions of people in the United States 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.

Government Purpose Innovation Award: Deception for Defense: Apply Traditional Camouflage Techniques Adapted to Cyber Network Defense

Patrick Allen and Steven Handy

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.