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NEEDLE – Search the National Nuclear Archive and More

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Does it seem like new search system technology is popping up all the time to you? Don’t worry, you’re not crazy! Here at the Intellogist® Blog we’ve looked at new search technology this year including Xyggy (also see this follow-up) and IBM’s Watson (which is set to play Jeopardy next year).

Today we’ll take a gander at NEEDLE, a search system developed by the Idaho National Laboratory (INL). NEEDLE is a unique system with helpful sources available to search for free, including a prominent nuclear power database.

Want to know how you can see this new technology in action, better your prior art searching, and get a glimpse at the future of patent search? Read on, my friends.


NEEDLE was developed by the INL as an internal search system based around the needs of their researchers. INL is one of the leading sources of nuclear reactor research in the United States. Scientists there needed a new way to search multiple internal and external databases simultaneously to support their studies, and thus NEEDLE was born.

NEEDLE is a federated search system that sorts results based on a number of different subject matter clustering technologies, including the open-source Carrot2. Readers can jump over to the publicly available version of NEEDLE and search a host of different sources for free. Notable sources available include:

  • The National Nuclear Archive – A full text OCR scanned database of INL nuclear research. This is the only known free host for this database at this time, and could serves as a non-patent literature source for your nuclear power related prior art searches.
  • OCLC WorldCat – A collection of data from over 10,000 libraries worldwide.
  • OSTI sources – Including OSTI DOE Patents, a collection of bibliographic sections and abstracts of patents from the US Department of Energy.
  • Web sources – Including Yahoo!, Bing, and Wikipedia.
  • PubMed – A huge collection of free online medical information databases provided by the US National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.

As you can see, as a free search engine with cutting edge technology, NEEDLE is worth checking out for any prior art searcher or researcher. That’s enough news for you today, right? BUT THAT’S NOT ALL! (Sorry for the infomercial interjection.)

The INL is soliciting interest for commercialization:

The INL invites interested parties to contact us regarding the details of licensing and implementing this technology. Interested parties should respond on or before January 1, 2011.

Could we see an industry vendor take up the INL on their offer and modify NEEDLE to be part of a patent searching system? It would be hard to say that this is likely, but it’s an interesting opportunity I wouldn’t mind seeing happen.

What do you think of the NEEDLE technology? Do you think it would fit in the patent searching community? Let us hear your opinion in the comments below!

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Thomson Innovation

This post was contributed by Intellogist Team member Chris Jagalla. The Intellogist blog is provided for free by Intellogist’s parent company, Landon IP, a major provider of patent search, technical translation, and information services.

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2 Responses

  1. […] of yesterday’s post about the debut of image search on Science.gov and last week’s post about NEEDLE, it’s been a busy end of the year for searchable databases of U.S. governmental […]

  2. […] the Intellogist Blog have highlighted a crop of new non-patent literature searching tools such as NEEDLE and Image Search on Science.gov. This year I’ll keep my eyes peeled and make sure to test out […]

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