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The Lead

Sensor could improve one of nano research’s most useful microscopes

December 17, 2014 3:31 pm | by Chad Boutin, NIST | News | Comments

Spotting molecule-sized features may become both easier and more accurate with a sensor developed at NIST. With their new design, NIST scientists may have found a way to sidestep some of the problems in calibrating atomic force microscopes (AFMs). The AFM is one of the main scientific workhorses of the nano age.

Neutron CT helps solve battery fire puzzle

December 12, 2014 10:43 am | by Daniel Hussey, NIST | News | Comments

Earlier this month, the NTSB released its...

Uniform nanowire arrays for science, manufacturing

December 8, 2014 8:36 am | by Kris Bertness, NIST | News | Comments

Defect-free nanowires with diameters in the range of 100 nm hold significant promise for...

Study makes case for RFID forensic evidence management

December 5, 2014 10:10 am | by NIST | News | Comments

Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags have become increasingly popular for tracking...

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Thin, strong bond for vacuum seal

December 4, 2014 10:09 am | by Patrick Egan, NIST | News | Comments

An ultra-stable, ultra-thin bonding technology has been adapted by researchers for use as a super-strong vacuum seal. Though it is less than 100 nm thick, the bond can withstand pressure up to 2 megapascals, and its drift, or how much it shifts over time, is on the order of less than 3 trillionths of a meter per hour.

First pictures of baby nanotubes

December 2, 2014 11:18 am | by NIST | News | Comments

Single-walled carbon nanotubes are loaded with desirable properties. In particular, the ability to conduct electricity at high rates of speed makes them attractive for use as nanoscale transistors. But this and other properties are largely dependent on their structure, and their structure is determined when the nanotube is just beginning to form.

Study: Light may skew lab tests on nanoparticles’ health effects

November 19, 2014 8:38 am | by Chad Boutin, NIST | News | Comments

Truth shines a light into dark places. But sometimes to find that truth in the first place, it’s better to stay in the dark. That’s what recent findings at NIST show about methods for testing the safety of nanoparticles. It turns out that previous tests indicating that some nanoparticles can damage our DNA may have been skewed by inadvertent light exposure in the lab.

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Underperforming? Energy efficiency of HVAC equipment suffers due to poor installation

November 10, 2014 10:45 am | by NIST | News | Comments

The push for more efficient air conditioners and heat pumps aims to trim the 30% share of residential electrical energy use devoted to cooling and heating. But the benefits of improved energy-efficiency ratings can go for naught if the equipment is not installed properly, as verified in a recent study from NIST.

Novel sodium-conducting material could improve rechargeable batteries

November 5, 2014 9:23 am | by NIST | News | Comments

Rechargeable battery manufacturers may get a jolt from research performed at NIST and several other institutions, where a team of scientists has discovered a safe, inexpensive, sodium-conducting material that significantly outperforms all others in its class. The team's discovery is a sodium-based, complex metal hydride, a material with potential as a cheaper alternative to the lithium-based conductors used in many rechargeable batteries.

A quantum leap in nanoparticle efficiency

October 31, 2014 12:55 pm | News | Comments

In an international study Univ. of Melbourne and NIST found that pairs of closely spaced nanoparticles made of gold can act as “optical antennas”. These antennae concentrate the light shining on them into tiny regions located in the gap between the nanoparticles. Researchers found the precise geometry of nanoparticle pairs that maximizes light concentration, resolving a hotly debated area of quantum physics.

NIST “combs” atmosphere to measure greenhouse gases

October 30, 2014 8:36 am | by Laura Ost, NIST | News | Comments

By remotely "combing" the atmosphere with a custom laser-based instrument, researchers from NIST, in collaboration with researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), have developed a new technique that can accurately measure—over a sizeable distance—amounts of several of the major "greenhouse" gases implicated in climate change.

NIST offers electronics industry two ways to snoop on self-organizing molecules

October 23, 2014 12:33 pm | News | Comments

A few short years ago, the idea of a practical manufacturing process based on getting molecules to organize themselves in useful nanoscale shapes seemed far-fetched. Recent work at NIST, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and IBM Almaden Research Center suggest this capability isn’t far off, however, by demonstrating self-assembly of thin films on a polymer template that creates precise rows just 10 nm wide.

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NIST’s finalizes cloud computing roadmap

October 23, 2014 9:41 am | News | Comments

The final version of the U.S. Government Cloud Computing Technology Roadmap, Volumes I and II has been published by NIST. The roadmap focuses on strategic and tactical objectives to support the federal government’s accelerated adoption of cloud computing. This final document reflects the input from more than 200 comments on the initial draft received from around the world.

Strengthening thin-film bonds with ultra-fast data collection

October 23, 2014 8:29 am | by Michael Baum, NIST | News | Comments

When studying extremely fast reactions in ultra-thin materials, two measurements are better than one. A new research tool invented by researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), Johns Hopkins Univ. and NIST captures information about both temperature and crystal structure during extremely fast reactions in thin-film materials.

NIST quantum probe enhances electric field measurements

October 9, 2014 8:37 am | News | Comments

Researchers at NIST and the Univ. of Michigan have demonstrated a technique based on the quantum properties of atoms that directly links measurements of electric field strength to the International System of Units. The new method could improve the sensitivity, precision and ease of tests and calibrations of antennas, sensors, and biomedical and nano-electronic systems and facilitate the design of novel devices.

Laser comb system maps 3-D surfaces remotely

October 8, 2014 9:37 am | News | Comments

Researchers at NIST have demonstrated a laser-based imaging system that creates high-definition 3-D maps of surfaces from as far away as 10.5 m. The method, which combines a form of laser detection and ranging that is sensitive enough to detect weak reflected light with the ranging accuracy made possible by frequency combs, may be useful in diverse fields, including precision machining and assembly, as well as in forensics.

NIST releases final version of Smart Grid Framework, update 3.0

October 3, 2014 11:51 am | News | Comments

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has published its NIST Framework and Roadmap for Smart Grid Interoperability Standards, Release 3.0, a document that reflects advances in smart grid technologies and developments from NIST’s collaborative work with industry stakeholders. Revisions to its guidelines for smart grid cybersecurity are available as well.

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Scientists improve microscopic batteries with homebuilt imaging analysis

September 29, 2014 12:26 pm | News | Comments

In a rare case of having their cake and eating it too, scientists from NIST and other institutions have developed a toolset that allows them to explore the complex interior of tiny, multi-layered batteries they devised. It provides insight into the batteries’ performance without destroying them, which results in both a useful probe for scientists and a potential power source for micromachines.

NIST awards contract to MITRE to support cybersecurity center

September 26, 2014 9:26 am | News | Comments

In support of the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence, NIST has awarded a contract its first Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC). The contract, which includes three initial tasks totaling about $29 million, was awarded to The MITRE Corporation, a not-for-profit organization that operates six other FFRDCs.

World’s smallest reference material is a big plus for nanotechnology

September 25, 2014 9:44 am | News | Comments

If it's true that good things come in small packages, then NIST can now make anyone working with nanoparticles very happy. The institute recently issued Reference Material (RM) 8027, the smallest known reference material ever created for validating measurements of man-made, ultrafine particles between 1 and 100 nm in size.

Polonium’s most stable isotope gets revised half-life measurement

September 12, 2014 9:14 am | by NIST | News | Comments

Scientists at NIST have determined that polonium-209, the longest-lived isotope of this radioactive heavy element, has a half-life about 25% longer than the previously determined value, which had been in use for decades. The new NIST measurements could affect geophysical studies such as the dating of sediment samples from ocean and lake floors.

Scientists shed light on organic photovoltaic characteristics

September 3, 2014 4:05 pm | News | Comments

The most familiar photovoltaic (PV) designs use rigid layers of silicon crystal, but recently inexpensive organic semiconductor materials have also been used successfully. At this time, organic PV devices are hindered by low efficiency, in part because quantifying their electrical properties is a challenge. Researchers have now developed a method that allows the prediction of the current density-voltage curve of a photovoltaic device.

Optical microscope technique confirmed as valid nano measurement tool

August 27, 2014 11:22 am | by Chad Boutin, NIST | News | Comments

Recent experiments have confirmed that a technique developed several years ago at NIST can enable optical microscopes to measure the 3-D shape of objects at nanometer-scale resolution—far below the normal resolution limit for optical microscopy (about 250 nm for green light). The results could make the technique a useful quality control tool in the manufacture of nanoscale devices such as next-generation microchips.

Team finds first evidence of spin symmetry in atoms

August 22, 2014 9:07 am | by Laura Ost, NIST | News | Comments

Just as diamonds with perfect symmetry may be unusually brilliant jewels, the quantum world has a symmetrical splendor of high scientific value. Confirming this exotic quantum physics theory, JILA physicists have observed the first direct evidence of symmetry in the magnetic properties—or nuclear “spins”—of atoms.

Six nines: Ultra-enriched silicon paves the road to quantum computing

August 12, 2014 12:27 pm | News | Comments

Using a relatively straightforward technique, a team of NIST researchers has created what may be the most highly enriched silicon currently being produced. The material is more than 99.9999% pure silicon-28, with less than 1 part per million (ppm) of the problematic isotope silicon-29. Many quantum computing schemes require isotopically pure silicon, for example to act as a substrate for qubits.

Therapy for ultraviolet laser beams: Hydrogen-treated fibers

August 12, 2014 8:17 am | by Laura Ost, NIST | News | Comments

To make a better optical fiber for transmitting laser beams, the first idea that comes to mind is probably not a nice long hydrogen bath. And yet, scientists have known for years that hydrogen can alter the performance of optical fibers, which are often used to transmit or even generate laser light in optical devices. Researchers at NIST have put this hydrogen “cure” to practical use.

NIST ion duet offers tunable module for quantum simulator

August 7, 2014 10:36 am | by Laura Ost, NIST | News | Comments

Physicists at NIST have demonstrated a pas de deux of atomic ions that combines the fine choreography of dance with precise individual control. NIST’s ion duet is a component for a flexible quantum simulator that could be scaled up in size and configured to model quantum systems of a complexity that overwhelms traditional computer simulations.

NIST corrosion lab tests suggest need for underground gas tank retrofits

July 30, 2014 7:40 am | by Laura Ost, NIST | News | Comments

A hidden hazard lurks beneath many of the roughly 156,000 gas stations across the U.S. The hazard is corrosion in parts of underground gas storage tanks. In recent years, field inspectors in nine states have reported many rapidly corroding gas storage tank components such as sump pumps.

“Comb-on-a-chip” powers new atomic clock design

July 24, 2014 7:52 am | News | Comments

Researchers from NIST and California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have demonstrated a new design for an atomic clock that is based on a chip-scale frequency comb, or a microcomb. The microcomb clock, featured in Optica, is the first demonstration of all-optical control of the microcomb, and its accurate conversion of optical frequencies to lower microwave frequencies.

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