Sandia Labs FY21 LDRD Annual Report


A synthetic opioid detector technology. Synthetic opioids such as Fentanyl and its analogs are a toxic drug class that readily cause harm, present detection challenges, and are illegally imported into the United States in large quantities. Producers rapidly proliferate altered chemical structures to increase drug potency and make detection attempts more difficult. The Sandia research team developed a method to detect this class of compounds, independent of their altered chemical structure, by thermally-fragmenting them at high temperatures and identifying the common chemical products that emerge. After understanding how these fentanyl analogs decompose, the team developed the capability to separate and detect these decomposition products even in complex chemical mixtures. They designed a prototype portable detector, consisting of a microfabricated pyrolyzer, a two-dimensional micro gas

chromatograph, and a miniature ion mobility spectrometer, to identify these compounds in the field. Matured versions of this technology may support law enforcement and border patrol agents to intercept these deadly drug compounds. The LDRD team prototyped this unique “platform” technology for the detection of synthetic opioids, but future work could readily adapt the technology for the detection of additional compounds of national security and law enforcement concern. (PI: Matthew Moorman) This prototype portable device created by Sandia can detect synthetic opioids by thermally-fragmenting them and detecting the decomposed chemical products that emerge.

Addressing aging mechanisms in harsh environments. In Molten Salt Reactor (MSR) environments, corrosion- and radiation-induced degradation occurs at the material-salt interfaces. To address the issue, the project team used a multi-resolution characterization capability that combines unique experimental characterization techniques and novel multi-physics computational models. One aspect of the LDRD was conducted in conjunction with Georgia Tech (GT), which performed combinatorial molten-salt corrosion experiments. This research led to many peer- reviewed manuscripts, including publication in Corrosion Science, Acta Materialia, Scripta Materialia , and Applied Surface Science . Owing to the importance of surface chemistry in corrosion processes, Sandia’s collaboration with GT advanced fundamental understanding of how surface properties are modified by

the presence of impurities near alloys surfaces, which will lead to the deployment of current and development of novel alloys that can be used in the next generation of nuclear reactors. Overall, the project addressed the challenges of materials aging by systematically characterizing the coupling effects of molten salts, high temperature, and irradiation on corrosion performance. (PI: Remi Dingreville) Because researchers now understand how impurities near alloy surfaces modify surface properties, advanced materials can be designed specifically to withstand the corrosion and radiation- degradation found in harsh environments.



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