Energy debuts searchable patent Web site

The Energy Department has launched a new Web site that lets users search its collection of more than 20,000 patent records, some of which date back to the 1940s.

DOepatents was developed by DOE's Office of Scientific and Technical Information. The database includes inventions by Nobel laureates who worked at DOE and its predecessor agencies, including Enrico Fermi (builder of the first experimental nuclear reactor), Glenn Seaborg (discoverer of 10 atomic elements, including plutonium) and Luis Alvarez (developer of the ground-control approach system for aircraft and three types of radar systems).

Some of the inventions go well beyond obvious DOE territory, such as nuclear physics. One such invention is the artificial retina for restoring vision in humans, a product of collaborative research among DOE, universities and the private sector. Another is the multijunction solar cell invented by DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

'From helping the blind to see again to identifying hidden weapons through holographic computerized imaging technology, the U.S. Department of Energy has supported and will continue to support research addressing some of the world's most pressing scientific challenges,' said Raymond Orbach, undersecretary for science at DOE. 'Content within DOepatents represents a truly impressive demonstration of DOE research and development and technological innovation.'

DOepatents provides each invention's bibliographic records in a PDF file or via a link to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Web site.

A search for J.R. Oppenheimer, for example, turns up a patent issued Oct. 1, 1955, for magnetic shims, which were employed in early efforts to separate isotopes of uranium and other elements using mass spectrometers.

New records are added to the DOepatents database on a quarterly basis.

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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