University Incubator Company Wins Top 100 Technological Award


On hand to accept the 1995 R&D 100 Award to X-Ray Optical Systems in conjunction with the University and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is David Gibson, president of X-Ray Optical, Heather Chen, NIST Researcher, and Jeanne Gullahorn, Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies.

X-Ray Optical Systems, Inc., the first "incubator" company at the University, is the winner of a 1995 R&D 100 Award, an honor bestowed by R&D Magazine on the 100 most technologically significant new products of the year. Sharing the award is the University for the contributions of physicist Raymond Benenson, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

X-Ray Optical Systems was honored for its invention of a neutron-focusing optical device that enables scientists to better analyze small samples of materials such as semiconductors, polymers and ceramics. Its official name is glass polycapillary neutron focusing optic.

As an incubator company, X-Ray Optical Sys-tems works closely with Uni-versity resear-chers, particularly at the Center for X-Ray Optics, where the empha-sis is on more basic research issues. Another key partner in the new lens' development was NIST.

The inventors sharing credit for the glass polycapillary neutron focusing optic are: Qi-Fan Xiao, senior researcher at X-Ray Optical Systems; Vasily Sharov, researcher, X-Ray Optical Systems; Heather Chen and David Mildner, NIST resear-chers; and Benenson.

David Gibson, president of X-Ray Optical Systems, Inc., said the device is a "major technological breakthrough for producing small beam spots of sufficient neutron current density for use in analytical applications. A neutron probe that is small and intense is greatly needed to further advance materials research. Our product is a response to this need."

"With this award, X-Ray Optical Systems joins a distinguished line of winners. anti-lock brakes, the automated teller machine and the color graphics printer were among the breakthroughs honored in the past," noted Vice President for Research and Dean of Graduate Studies Jeanne Gullahorn.

The new optical device is based on technology first conceived by Russian physicist Muradin Kumakhov. Central to that technology are lenses consisting of thousands of tiny hollow glass capillaries that guide x-rays and neutrons down their lengths and focus them. X-Ray Optical Systems was formed five years ago to develop commercial applications of that technology.

The X-Ray Optical Systems device consists of 1,763 polycapillary fibers, each of which is a hexagonal arrangement of 1,657 hollow channels. A neutron beam passing through the device can be focused on an extremely small area and can measure, for example, hydrogen concentration in materials. In titanium turbine blades for aircraft engines, too high a concentration of hydrogen can make the metal brittle and susceptible to catastrophic failure.


The glass polycapillary neutron focusing optic

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