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By Kay Cordtzshare:

Brookhaven Lab Researchers and Technologies Honored with 'Innovate Long Island' Awards

Charles Black, Ahsan Ashraf, Atikur Rahman, and Matthew Eisaman

Click on the image to download a high-resolution version. On the Brookhaven team honored with an Innovator of the Year Award are, from left, Charles Black, Ahsan Ashraf, Atikur Rahman, and Matthew Eisaman.

Four scientists at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory have received an Innovate LI Innovator of the Year award, which recognize Long Island’s best and brightest ideas. Charles Black, Atikur Rahman, Matthew Eisaman (who holds a joint appointment at Stony Brook University), and Ahsan Ashraf received the award at an October 21 ceremony at the Crest Hollow Country Club. The team was honored in the Science and Technology category for their work on nanotech antireflection surface coatings.

Reducing the amount of sunlight that bounces off the surface of solar cells helps maximize the conversion of the sun's rays to electricity, so manufacturers use coatings to cut down on reflections. The Brookhaven team—working at the Lab’s Center for Functional Nanomaterials, a DOE Office of Science User Facility—found that etching a nanoscale texture onto the silicon material itself creates an antireflective surface that works as well as state-of-the-art thin-film multilayer coatings. Their method has potential for streamlining silicon solar cell production and reducing manufacturing costs. The approach may find additional applications in reducing glare from windows, providing radar camouflage for military equipment, and increasing the brightness of light-emitting diodes.

Two entrepreneurs with start-up companies launched with technologies pioneered at Brookhaven also received awards–Marc Alessi in the Biotech category for SynchroPET, and William Biamonte in the Clean Energy category for SulfCrete. 

SynchroPET, based in Shoreham, New York, is a start-up biotech firm with the next generation of PET scanners, which have superior imaging capabilities to what was previously available. All of SynchroPET's technology was developed at Brookhaven National Laboratory and enabled SynchroPET to miniaturize the typical PET scanner while improving its image. SynchroPET's technology can be paired with an existing MRI machine for a simultaneous image. These advances will accelerate the creation of new pharmaceuticals to treat cancers, and Alzheimer and Parkinson's diseases. SynchroPET’s scanners have have been used by researchers from labs in New York, the first located at Stony Brook University. 

Long Island start-up company SulfCrete, Inc. has been exploring commercialization of sulfur polymer, a unique and affordable construction material developed at Brookhaven Lab that has a very small carbon footprint compared to the existing concrete products it might one day replace.  SulfCrete, Inc. has licensed the technology, and its product, which uses sulfur polymer to replace cement, will be more than 90 percent “greener” than existing concrete.  Unlike conventional cement, which requires the addition of water and a chemical hydration reaction to set and cure over time, sulfur polymer is melted, mixed with aggregate, and cures to 90 percent full strength within hours after cooling to ambient temperatures.  

“We were extremely pleased to see Brookhaven Lab and its researchers acknowledged today with Innovate LI awards,” said Connie Cleary of the Lab’s Strategic Partnership Office. “These awards underscore the breadth and depth of the technologies created at Brookhaven. Through the support of the Laboratory and the community, they are being introduced to the public and assisting in fulfilling the Department of Energy’s mission of wide dissemination and benefit back to the US taxpayers in the form of transformative science and solutions.

“We congratulate Chuck Black, Matt Eisaman, Atikur Rahman, and Ahsan Ashraf for their antireflection technology; Sulfcrete, for its concrete remediation technology developed by Brookhaven’s Paul Kalb; and SynchroPET for its PET imaging technology developed by many current and past Brookhaven researchers including David Schlyer, Paul Vaska, Craig Woody, Jack Fried, Paul O’ Connor, Graham Smith, Martin Purschke, Scott Pratt, Veljko Radeka, Junnakur Sachin, and Nora Volkow.” 

This is the first year that Innovate Long Island has conferred these awards. This year’s list also includes winners in software development and general inventiveness and honors individuals who have given their considerable time and talent to mentor some of the region’s emerging entrepreneurs.

Brookhaven National Laboratory is supported by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy.  The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.  For more information, please visit

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