Take that, sports cars! Physicists at NIST can accelerate their beryllium ions from zero to 100 mph and stop them in just a few microseconds. What's more, the ions come to a complete stop and hardly feel the effects of the ride. And they're not just good for submicroscopic racing—NIST physicists think their zippy ions may be useful in future quantum computers.
Cartridge cases—the empty shells left behind after a gun is fired—are routinely sent to forensic laboratories for analysis when they're found at a shooting scene. Forensics experts need to have confidence in the accuracy of the equipment and procedures used to make a link, which makes the new standard reference material from NIST a valuable tool for law enforcement.
Most devices that amplify light suffer from the same problem: making the image brighter also adds muddying distortion. Scientists working at NIST have demonstrated that they can amplify weak light signals without adding noise while also carrying more information—more pixels—than other low-noise amplifiers.
Tests performed at NIST show that a new method for splitting photon beams could overcome a fundamental physical hurdle in transmitting electronic data. The findings confirm that a prototype device developed with collaborators at Stanford University can double the amount of quantum information that can be sent readily through fiber-optic cables, and in theory could lead to an even greater increase in the rate of this type of transmission.
A detailed understanding of how colloidal nanoparticles interact with interfaces is essential for designing them for specific applications in fields ranging from drug delivery to oil exploration and recovery. NIST scientists have recently used 3D single-particle tracking to measure the dynamic behavior of individual nanoparticles adsorbed at the surface of micrometer-scale oil droplets in water, and have discovered how they diffuse.
A new versatile measurement system devised by researchers at NIST accurately and quickly measures the electric power output of solar energy devices, capabilities useful to researchers and manufacturers working to develop and make next-generation solar energy cells.
A team of researchers from the University of Delaware and two national laboratories have developed a new scientific instrument capable of studying the microstructure of complex fluids, polymers, nanomaterials, and surfactant solutions using neutron scattering techniques. The advance adds the ability for researchers to study time-dependent deformations, a capability not previously available.
Gold is not necessarily precious—at least not as a coating on atomic force microscope (AFM) probes. JILA researchers found that removing an AFM probe's gold coating—until now considered helpful—greatly improved force measurements performed in a liquid, the medium favored for biophysical studies such as stretching DNA or unfolding proteins.
In an important step towards more practical quantum information processing, researchers have demonstrated the first heralded single photon source made from silicon. This source complements two other recently developed silicon-based technologies—interferometers for manipulating the entanglement of photons and single photon detectors—needed to build a quantum optical circuit or a secure quantum communication system.
In searching for better flame retardants for home furnishings, NIST researchers defied the conventional wisdom and literally hit a wall, one made of clay. It wasn't a dead end, but rather a surprising result that may lead to a new generation of nonhalogenated, sustainable flame retardant technology for polyurethane foam.
Tightening or relaxing the tension on a drumhead will change the way the drum sounds. The same goes for drumheads made from graphene, only instead of changing the sound, stretching graphene has a profound effect on the material's electrical properties. Researchers working at NIST and the University of Maryland have shown that subjecting graphene to mechanical strain can mimic the effects of magnetic fields and create a quantum dot.
NIST researchers have observed for the first time the Hall effect in a gas of ultracold atoms. The Hall effect is an important interaction of magnetic fields and electric current more commonly associated with metals and semiconductors. Variations on the Hall effect are used throughout engineering and physics with applications ranging from automobile ignition systems to fundamental measures of electricity. The new discovery could help scientists learn more about the physics of quantum phenomena such as superfluidity and the quantum Hall effect.
Generated by ultrafast lasers, frequency combs precisely measure individual frequencies (colors) of light. Researchers at JILA, operated jointly by NIST and the University of Colorado-Boulder, are using such a comb to identify specific molecules in gases based on which colors of light, or comb "teeth," are absorbed by the gas, and in what amounts.
A trio of theorists, including one from the NIST, have described how a future quantum computer could be used to simulate complex, high-energy collisions of subatomic particles. Given a working quantum computer—still under development—the algorithm could solve important physics problems well beyond the reach of even the most powerful conventional supercomputers.
A powerful color-based imaging technique is making the jump from remote sensing to the operating room—and a team of scientists at NIST have taken steps to ensure it performs as well when discerning oxygen-depleted tissues and cancer cells in the body as it does with oil spills in the ocean.
An international research team led by the University of Colorado-Boulder has generated the first laser-like beams of X-rays from a tabletop device, paving the way for advances in many fields including medicine, biology, and nanotechnology development.
Quantum computers are still years away, but a trio of theorists has already figured out at least one talent they may have. According to the theorists, physicists might one day use quantum computers to study the inner workings of the universe in ways that are far beyond the reach of even the most powerful conventional supercomputers.
NIST has released a new standard reference material (SRM) to aid in the detection of two explosive compounds that are known to be used by terrorists. Researchers designed the new test samples to simulate the size and behavior of residues that remain after handling the explosives PETN (pentaerythritol tetranitrate) and TATP (triacetone triperoxide).
Researchers at NIST have published their first archival paper based on data from the institute's new hydrogen test facility. The paper examines the embrittling effect of pressurized hydrogen gas on three different types of pipeline steel, an important factor for the design of future hydrogen transportation and delivery systems.
Researchers from Michigan State University, the NIST Center for Neutron Research, and the NIST Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology have discovered the key to controlling and enhancing the lossless flow of a current with a single electron spin state in a standard superconducting device.
A NIST researcher has devised a new humidity generator that enables dew point measurements up to 98 C—a substantial extension above the previous limit of 80 C—and provides expanded calibration services for hygrometers in a variety of industries.
Space may be the final frontier. But often a few trips to NIST's Physical Measurement Laboratory are necessary before things can get off the ground. One recent case in point is the test of an instrument called the Extreme Ultraviolet Monitor, which will soon be heading for Mars to help answer a vexing question in planetary science: Where did the Red Planet’s once-dense atmosphere go?
Researchers at NIST have developed and published a new protocol for communicating with biometric sensors over wired and wireless networks—using some of the same technologies that underpin the Web.
Using a refined technique for trapping and manipulating nanoparticles, researchers at NIST have extended the trapped particles' useful life more than tenfold. This new approach, which one researcher likens to "attracting moths," promises to give experimenters the trapping time they need to build nanoscale structures and may open the way to working with nanoparticles inside biological cells without damaging the cells with intense laser light.
Researchers at NIST have developed a prototype bioreactor that both stimulates and evaluates tissue as it grows, mimicking natural processes while eliminating the need to stop periodically to cut up samples for analysis. Tissue created this way might someday be used to replace, for example, damaged or diseased cartilage in the knee and hip.