NRL Recognized with R&D 100 Award for MICHELLE Software Tool

12/22/2006 - 69-06r
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The Naval Research Laboratory is part of a team that has been recognized with an "R&D 100 Award," from R&D Magazine for MICHELLE, a software tool for three-dimensional modeling of charged-particle-beam devices. NRL teamed with Science Applications International Corporation, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Simulation Technology & Applied Research, Inc., Raytheon, Field Precision, L-3 Communications Electron Technologies, Inc., Communications & Power Industries, and L-3 Communications Electron Devices on this project. The award, which the Chicago Tribune has called "the Oscars of Inventions," recognizes the 100 most technologically significant new products of the year.

The NRL research team was led by Dr. Baruch Levush from the Electronics Science and Technology Division who explains that MICHELLE is a robust, accurate, and efficient computer code that calculates the particle motion and the electrostatic and magnetostatic fields in complex charged-particle-beam device.

High-power vacuum electron devices are used in a variety of applications, including defense radar systems, satellite communication systems, particle accelerators, and deep space communication systems. Because of the design requirements, these vacuum electron devices can be extraordinarily complex to build, and specialized simulation software is required. MICHELLE was developed to meet this need.

MICHELLE simulates the operation of a variety of charged-particle-beam devices. To perform a simulation, MICHELLE calculates the electrostatic fields, the magnetostatic fields, and the particle trajectories in the device under steady-state or slowly varying field conditions. MICHELLE can model intense or relativistic particle beams, particle injection into the device volume, and secondary-electron emission produced by particle collisions with the device walls. Because of the calculational space, MICHELLE provides unmatched spatial resolution for this type of code and can also calculate up to 200,000 particle trajectories, which is also unprecedented. MICHELLE has been used to simulate the operation of:

  • gridded, multibeam, sheet-beam, and annular-beam electron guns for high-power vacuum electron devices,
  • multibeam and multistage depressed electron collectors for high-power vacuum electron devices,
  • complete (gun-to-collector) high-power vacuum electron devices,
  • ion thrusters for deep-space missions, and
  • beam transport in particle accelerators.

MICHELLE is the only code that provides accurate simulations of several advanced guns and collectors used in high-power vacuum electron devices. MICHELLE's simulations have already saved years of trial and error in the laboratory and led to longer-lasting microwave tubes for defense radar systems, more cost-effective vacuum electron devices for satellite communication systems, and higher-power vacuum electron devices for particle-accelerator and deep-space communication systems. In addition, NASA researchers are using MICHELLE to develop ion thrusters for missions to the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Lasting up to 10 years or more, these missions will require thrusters that are always on. MICHELLE is helping NASA design thrusters that can do the job.

The MICHELLE software tool joins a prestigious list of once-revolutionary R&D award-winning technologies that are now part of everyday life, including: Polacolor Film (1963), the electronic video recorder (1969) , the automated teller machine (1973), halogen lamps (1974), the facsimile machine (1975), the liquid crystal display (1980), the photo CD player (1991), the antismoking patch (1992), the digital compact cassette (1993), and HDTV (1998).

The Office of Naval Research funded the development of MICHELLE.

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The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory provides the advanced scientific capabilities required to bolster our country's position of global naval leadership. The Laboratory, with a total complement of approximately 2,500 personnel, is located in southwest Washington, D.C., with other major sites at the Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Monterey, Calif. NRL has served the Navy and the nation for over 90 years and continues to advance research further than you can imagine. For more information, visit the NRL website or join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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