From revolutionizing the way we copy paper documents to safely screening passengers at airports, take a look at a sample of our commercial success stories.
Xerox In 1944, Battelle metallurgist Russell Dayton met independent inventor, Chester Carlson, and became the champion in Battelle for a "research gamble," Carlson's idea for and crude demonstration of a dry copy process. Agreements were signed, and Battelle researchers solved enormous technical problems to develop the new copying process into a promising commercial product. What would become Xerography involved a variety of technologies that had never been combined before. Battelle's critical contribution was assembling a team with the diverse expertise and enthusiastic commitment to devise processes and machines that worked well to make copies.
The new process was disclosed at a meeting of the American Optical Society in 1948; not long after, a contract was negotiated with Haloid, who would go on to make Xerox® a household word. The financial benefit to Battelle (and to Carlson) was great and served to underwrite expansion, diversification, and charitable donations for decades.
Motivated by a desire for a better hi-fi system, James Russell, a researcher at the Pacific Northwest Division of Battelle had been tinkering for many years to get quality sound and longer life from his Long Playing records. He tested different pickups, needles, compensation curves, record coatings-anything he could imagine or heard about. His interest in optics and the photographic process; his brief experience as chief engineer for a broadcast station; college training in optics, physics, and polymer chemistry; and his work in the early 1960s developing instrumentation systems using computers gave him background in all the disciplines that would be necessary to understand, with a few inductive leaps, develop an optical digital storage system.
Russell quickly outlined the entire system, including nearly all the present features of the CD, CD-ROM, DVD, and, working with a small team at Pacific Northwest, built the prototype. Although selling the patented system was very hard, slow, frustrating, and in the end, disappointing, James Russell had started a revolution in the audio recording (digital) and record (optical) distribution business. As the concept developed, it was obvious that there would be a significant improvement in the data storage business, video program distribution, and computer software and database distribution as well. Although it would be about 15 years before the advent of the PC, the CD-ROM was a very important element in the growth of the PC and the further revolution in computing technology.
After playing a leading role in evaluating and selecting the machine-readable Uniform Product Code, Battelle expanded the technology to include the ability to read bar codes over a complex, multicolored background for the U.S. Postal Service. This technology senses both the background and the infrared fluorescent bar code and compensates for background effects. Integral to this project, Battelle also developed near-infrared fluorescent inks to meet the unique USPS requirements. Battelle then invested in extending the technology to invisible bar codes for applications such as mass mailings, small packaging, packages where visible bar codes present esthetic problems, or other special requirements where traditional bar codes might be obscured.
In 1993, Battelle licensed the background compensating reader technology to Accu-Sort Systems Inc., the world's leading producer of fixed-position industrial bar code scanners. Accu-Sort is currently marketing a high-speed, fixed-position scanner capable of reading invisible bar codes printed over noncomplex backgrounds. And Battelle is working to improve the reader algorithms to meet Accu-Sort's needs to reduce size and cost - and to expand the technology to hand-held scanners.
Battelle licensed the ink technology to Eastman Chemical Company, who combined Battelle's patent with their own fluorophor technology to improve the ink and move to pilot production. Eastman's proprietary, near-infrared fluorescent markers are versatile and stable, optimize detectability, and are adaptable to high-speed sorting, process control, and product verification, as well as a wide range of other applications.
This technology was recognized as the best new product at SCAN-TECH '96, the world's largest international exhibition of business solutions.
In 1987, with an established reputation in integrated optics built on more than 20 U.S. patents and a million dollar investment in a Class 100 clean room, Battelle embarked on a joint venture with NTT, Mitsubishi, and Mitsubishi International. Ongoing joint technical work in opto-electronics between Battelle and NTT was formalized as a company, Photonic Integration Research, Inc (PIRI).
The technology behind the joint venture was the innovative use of patterned glass films on a silicon wafer, which made it possible to integrate formerly bulky and complex optical circuits-key components in large-scale fiber optic networks-onto a single circuit chip. PIRI optical circuits moved from the lab to full-scale production and worldwide marketing in 1991. During five years of modest growth, PIRI perfected fiber optic devices that could survive rigorous telecommunications standards for temperature range and humidity, with low optical loss, high-precision structure, flexibility of circuit geometry, easy hybridization, and assured reproducibility and reliability. PIRI also developed a high-throughput automated testing system to certify their optical circuits, ensuring outstanding performance.
In May of 2000, the venture partners sold PIRI to SDL, Inc. for the largest single commercial transaction in Battelle's history. In 2001, SDL was acquired by JDS Uniphase, a leading provider of communications test and measurement solutions and optical products for telecommunications service providers, cable operators, and network equipment manufacturers.
Battelle operates the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy. In the 1970s, Pacific Northwest began a three-dimensional holographic imagery program to help evaluate nuclear reactors.
In the mid-1980s, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration became interested in the possible application of this technology to screen people at airports and began funding that research in 1989. Additional development continued during the 1990's, and patents were granted in 1995. The resulting patented system used harmless low power active millimeter wave technology (MMW) to unobtrusively detect objects of concern such as weapons, explosives, plastics, ceramics and metals by scanning the body and creating 3-D images of concealed contraband on a high-speed image processing computer.
In 2002, a new company, SafeView Inc., was formed, and Battelle licensed the technology to the company for further development and commercialization for a variety of security applications. Funded by six investors, including Battelle and Battelle Ventures, SafeView quickly became a global leader in developing and manufacturing safe, non invasive security systems and portals for military and public safety use, including airports.
SafeView's ScoutTM Personal Screening system is safe and ensures personal privacy while rapidly identifying contraband that someone may be carrying. Its detection capabilities go far beyond metal detectors, passive millimeter waves and backscatter X-ray systems.
The portal-based technology takes about one second to scan a person, and the scan is then reviewed in a matter of 7 to 15 seconds. Systems are currently used to secure soldiers and workers in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, at border crossings in Israel, railway stations in the United Kingdom, international airports in Mexico City and Amsterdam, ferry landings in Singapore, government buildings like The Hague, and commercial buildings in Tokyo.
In March of 2006, L-3 Communications (NYSE: LLL) acquired SafeView, Inc. to add the personal screening system products to its broad range of military and homeland security products. Headquartered in New York City, L-3 Communications is a $7 billion supplier of high technology security products, including Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) systems, secure communications systems, aircraft modernization, training and government services, to the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, selected U.S. Government intelligence agencies and aerospace prime contractors.