Department Spotlight

Whitworth Alumnus Named 2002 Inventor of the Year

Whitworth alumnus Steve Miller developed a new Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) technique that resulted in the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s first million-dollar royalty license. He holds 13 U.S. patents and has numerous foreign patents and patents pending. And now, Miller has been named 2002 Inventor of the Year for Battelle, an international research and development firm serving government and industry.

A staff scientist in PNNL's Environmental Technology Directorate, Miller also earned an R&D 100 award in 1992. He graduated from Whitworth in 1983 with degrees in physics and chemistry.

Miller designed and now manages an Optically Stimulated Luminescence Laboratory at PNNL, which is managed by Battelle. The lab includes state-of-the-art lasers, optical systems and equipment to help build expertise in the fields of ionizing radiation detection, sensitive photon detection techniques, and non-ionizing radiation. Miller is currently developing medical dosimetry products and high dose dosimetry for food irradiation and medical product sterilization.

Following a successful research project with Landauer, Inc., the OSL technology was licensed to Landauer in 1994. The license agreement proved lucrative, becoming PNNL's first million-dollar royalty license with annual royalties in excess of $400,000 a year.

The Inventor of the Year Award honors a Battelle staff member who, through outstanding career achievements and creativity, has significantly expanded Battelle’s intellectual property portfolio. The award was presented to Miller by Battelle’s CEO Carl Kohrt this spring at the company’s Columbus, Ohio, headquarters.

Founded in 1929, Battelle employs 7,500 scientists, engineers and support specialists in more than 40 locations around the world. The company has operated the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., since its founding in 1965.

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