Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory announces its top 10 technological advances of 2012

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory recently announced a listing of the top ten scientific developments it played a major role in during 2012, including three directly related to biodefense.

The lab said the stories reflect its ability to apply core national security competencies to a broad array of national and global challenges, including energy, climate change, biodefense and detection, forensic science, high performance computing, and materials science. The top 10 list is not meant to be seen as exclusive, but instead as a sampling of major technological events that occurred during the year.

In 2012, LLNL researchers were able to for the first time simulate and quantify the early stages of radiation damage that will occur in a given material. The newly developed method will eventually allow scientists to predict the effect of radiation on a wide range of increasingly complex materials, including human tissue, both for damage and therapeutic processes.

The lab's scientists also succeeded in developing a new material for military uniforms that can repel biological and chemical agents. The novel material uses carbon nanotube fabric that has been designed to undergo a rapid transition from a breathable to a protective state. A chemical or biological agent attack triggers the membrane outer layer of the material, causing it to close or shed its contaminated surface.

This year LLNL licensed a microbial detection array for food safety, law enforcement and medical research to a St. Louis-based company, MOgene LC. The technology, known as the Lawrence Livermore Microbial Detection Array, allows users to detect any virus or bacteria that has been sequenced and included among the array's probes within a 24-hour period.