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The Lead

Technique can measure volumes of key lab-on-a-chip components

April 22, 2015 11:35 am | by NIST | News | Comments

Imagine shrinking tubes and beakers down to the size of a credit card. When engineers figured out how to do that two decades ago, they enabled complex tests to be performed with tiny "lab on a chip" technology. But until now, there has been no way to accurately measure the size of the tiny vessels they created. Now, scientists at NIST have found a potential solution to this longstanding manufacturing issue.

Electron trapping harnessed to make light sensors

April 21, 2015 10:34 am | by Mark Esser, NIST | News | Comments

Traps. Whether you’re squaring off against the Empire or trying to wring electricity out of...

Researchers create bio-inspired flame retardants

April 15, 2015 9:53 am | by NIST | News | Comments

After devising several new and promising "green" flame retardants for furniture padding, NIST...

NMR “fingerprinting” for monoclonal antibodies

April 15, 2015 8:49 am | by NIST | News | Comments

NIST researchers have demonstrated the most precise method yet to measure the structural...

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Report charts a research path for improving “printed” metal parts

April 14, 2015 12:05 pm | by NIST | News | Comments

Additive manufacturing has been called a game changer. But new games require new instructions, and the manuals for a growing assortment of methods for building parts and products layer-by-layer, collectively known as "3D printing", still are works in progress. Manufacturing researchers at NIST have scoped out the missing sections in current guidelines for powder bed fusion, the chief method for "printing" metal parts.

Team tightens bounds on quantum information “speed limit”

April 13, 2015 9:18 am | by NIST | News | Comments

If you're designing a new computer, you want it to solve problems as fast as possible. Just how fast is possible is an open question when it comes to quantum computers, but physicists at NIST have narrowed the theoretical limits for where that "speed limit" is. The research implies that quantum processors will work more slowly than some research has suggested.

Nanoscale speed bump could regulate plasmons for high-speed data flow

April 1, 2015 12:08 pm | by Mark Esser, NIST | News | Comments

The name sounds like something Marvin the Martian might have built, but the “nanomechanical plasmonic phase modulator” is not a doomsday device. Developed by a team of government and university researchers, including physicists from NIST, the innovation harnesses tiny electron waves called plasmons. It’s a step towards enabling computers to process information hundreds of times faster than today’s machines.

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Precocious GEM

March 30, 2015 7:46 am | by Michael Baum, NIST | News | Comments

Scientists working at NIST and the NIH have devised and demonstrated a new, shape-shifting probe, about one-hundredth as wide as a human hair, which is capable of sensitive, high-resolution remote biological sensing that is not possible with current technology. If eventually put into widespread use, the design could have a major impact on research in medicine, chemistry, biology and engineering.

Lack of effective timing signals could hamper IoT development

March 20, 2015 8:30 am | by Chad Boutin, NIST | News | Comments

Our fast-approaching future of driverless cars and “smart” electrical grids will depend on billions of linked devices making decisions and communicating with split-second precision to prevent highway collisions and power outages. But a new report released by NIST warns that this future could be stalled by our lack of effective methods to marry computers and networks with timing systems.

New angle on x-ray measurements

March 12, 2015 11:08 am | by NIST | News | Comments

Criminal justice, cosmology and computer manufacturing may not look to have much in common, but these and many other disparate fields all depend on sensitive measurements of x-rays. Scientists at NIST have developed a new method to reduce uncertainty in x-ray wavelength measurement that could provide improvements awaited for decades.

Tool helps boost wireless channel frequencies, capacity

February 20, 2015 8:16 am | by Laura Ost, NIST | News | Comments

Smartphones and tablets are everywhere, which is great for communications but a growing burden on wireless channels. Forecasted huge increases in mobile data traffic call for exponentially more channel capacity. Boosting bandwidth and capacity could speed downloads, improve service quality and enable new applications like the Internet of Things connecting a multitude of devices.

Noncommittal material could make for hypersensitive magnetic direction detector

February 4, 2015 11:07 am | by Mark Esser, NIST | News | Comments

While the mysterious, unseen forces magnets project are now (mostly) well understood, they can still occasionally surprise us. For instance, thin films of cobalt have been observed to spontaneously switch their poles: something that typically doesn’t happen in the absence of an external magnetic field. Physicists at NIST and the Univ. of Maryland have measured this phenomenon on the largest scale yet.

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Hidden uncertainties uncovered in nuclear forensic measurement

February 3, 2015 12:16 pm | by Ryan Fitzgerald, NIST | News | Comments

A little detective work by nuclear physicists has uncovered hidden uncertainties in a popular method for precisely measuring radioactive nuclides, often used to make reference materials for forensic analyses such as radioactive dating. The much-used method, called α/β-γ anticoincidence counting, has long relied on simplified assumptions. Now researchers from NIST have produced a more realistic model.

Neutron beams reveal how two potential pieces of Parkinson’s puzzle fit

January 29, 2015 11:44 am | by Chad Boutin, NIST | News | Comments

To understand diseases like Parkinson’s, the tiniest of puzzles may hold big answers. That’s why a team including scientists from NIST have determined how two potentially key pieces of the Parkinson’s puzzle fit together, in an effort to reveal how the still poorly understood illness develops and affects its victims.

Hybrid memory device for superconducting computing

January 26, 2015 12:20 pm | by NIST | News | Comments

Scientists have demonstrated a nanoscale memory technology for superconducting computing that could hasten the advent of an urgently awaited, low-energy alternative to power-hungry conventional data centers and supercomputers. In recent years, the stupendous and growing data demands of cloud computing, expanded Internet use, mobile device support and other applications have prompted the creation of large, centralized computing facilities.

Weighing gas with sound and microwaves

January 26, 2015 10:30 am | by NIST | News | Comments

NIST scientists have developed a novel method to rapidly and accurately calibrate gas flow meters, such as those used to measure natural gas flowing in pipelines, by applying a fundamental physical principle: When a sound wave travels through a gas containing temperature gradients, the sound wave's average speed is determined by the average temperature of the gas.

Predicting the behavior of new concrete formulas

January 22, 2015 8:39 am | by Chad Boutin, NIST | News | Comments

Just because concrete is the most widely used building material in human history doesn’t mean it can’t be improved. A recent study conducted by researchers from NIST, the Univ. of Strasbourg and Sika Corp. using U.S. Dept. of Energy Office of Science supercomputers has led to a new way to predict concrete’s flow properties from simple measurements.

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The way liquids and glasses “relax”

January 15, 2015 2:04 pm | by Michael Baum, NIST | News | Comments

A new insight into the fundamental mechanics of the movement of molecules recently published by researchers at NIST offers a surprising view of what happens when you pour a liquid out of a cup. More important, it provides a theoretical foundation for a molecular-level process that must be controlled to ensure the stability of important protein-based drugs at room temperature.

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 Aircraft Incident Report on a fire aboard a Japan Airlines Boeing 787, concluding that the fire was probably caused by an internal short circuit within a cell of the lithium-ion battery.       

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 numerous in-demand applications. That promise can't be realized, however, unless the wires can be fabricated in large uniform arrays using methods compatible with high-volume manufacture. To date, that has not been possible for arbitrary spacings in ultra-high vacuum growth.

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 everything from automobiles being manufactured on an assembly line to zoo animals in transit to their new homes. Now, thanks to a new NIST report, the next beneficiaries of RFID technology may soon be law enforcement agencies responsible for the management of forensic evidence.

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.

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.

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