RTI's Thermoelectrics Breakthrough Wins R&D 100 Award
RTI's groundbreaking thermoelectrics technology, published in Nature last October, has garnered a prestigious R&D 100 Award. Sponsored by R&D magazine, a leading trade journal, the 40-year-old awards program recognizes the most significant new technologies of the year. Thermoelectric devices can provide solid state cooling, heating and precise temperature control as well as power conversion.
In what is known as the most significant technological advance in thermoelectrics in decades, RTI developed thin-film superlattice technology that is 2.4 times more efficient and 23,000 times faster than existing materials. Rama Venkatasubramanian and colleagues Edward Siivola, Tom Colpitts and Brooks O'Quinn were part of the initial research team whose efforts initiated the Advanced Nano-Systems for Electronic Refrigeration, Energy Recovery and Enhanced Reconnaissance (ANSER) technologies.
RTI's thermoelectric materials are valuable for both military and commercial uses. Applications could include cooling microelectronic chips, speeding up fiber optic switches and converting an automobile's waste heat into electricity. The technology emerged from RTI's work with the U.S. Department of Defense. The Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) have provided funding since 1993 for RTI's development of the new materials and devices. Venkatasubramanian said the award is as much in recognition of DARPA and ONR's sustained commitment to high-risk, high-payoff research as of RTI's thin-film superlattice concepts, which feature advantages such as efficiency, speed, power density and enormous reduction in material usage.
Among past winners of the R&D 100 Award are breakthroughs such as Polacolor film, the digital wristwatch, antilock brakes, the automated teller machine, the liquid crystal display, the halogen lamp, the fax machine, the touch-sensitive screen, the anti-smoking patch, high-definition television, as well as the anti-cancer drug Taxol®, which was discovered at RTI.
In addition, RTI's ANSER technology was one of the thermal management breakthroughs discussed at a Technology Venture Forum called "Next-Generation Thermal Management Materials and Systems," that was held Oct. 28 through 30, 2002. This conference series brought together leading innovators with expert analysts of market trends and venture capital possibilities.
Taxol (a word coined by RTI's Monroe E. Wall) is a trademark of Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.