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NIST measures laser power with portable scale

October 24, 2013 12:41 pm | News | Comments

Researchers have demonstrated a new method for measuring laser power by reflecting the light off a mirrored scale, which behaves as a force detector. Although it may sound odd, the technique is promising as a simpler, faster, less costly and more portable alternative to conventional methods of calibrating high-power lasers used in manufacturing, the military and research.

Team “gets the edge” on photon transport in silicon

October 24, 2013 8:06 am | News | Comments

Scientists have a new way to edge around a difficult problem in quantum physics, now that a research team from NIST and the Joint Quantum Institute have proved their recent theory about how particles of light flow within a novel device they built. While the problem itself may be unfamiliar to many, the team's solution could help computer designers use light instead of electricity to carry information in computer circuits.

Vacuums provide solid ground for new definition of kilogram

October 23, 2013 2:31 pm | News | Comments

Of all the standard units currently in use around the world, the kilogram is the only one that still relies on a physical object for its definition. But revising this outdated definition will require precise vacuum-based measurements that researchers are not yet able to make. A new system is in development that would allow a direct comparison of an object being weighed in a vacuum to one outside a vacuum.

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Carbon nanotube chips go ballooning for climate science

October 23, 2013 10:07 am | News | Comments

A huge plastic balloon floated high in the skies over New Mexico on Sept. 29, 2013, carrying instruments to collect climate-related test data with the help of carbon nanotube chips made by NIST. The onboard instrument was an experimental spectrometer designed to collect and measure visible and infrared wavelengths of light ranging from 350 to 2,300 nm.

NIST measures laser power with portable scale

October 23, 2013 8:58 am | News | Comments

Researchers at NIST have demonstrated a novel method for measuring laser power by reflecting the light off a mirrored scale, which behaves as a force detector. Although it may sound odd, the technique is promising as a simpler, faster, less costly and more portable alternative to conventional methods of calibrating high-power lasers used in manufacturing, the military and research.

New ion source for focused ion beams uses cold atomic beam

October 21, 2013 8:49 am | News | Comments

Researchers from the NIST and zeroK Nanotech Corp. have demonstrated a new ion source that may enable focused ion beams with high brightness and resolution for nanoscale fabrication and measurement applications in fields ranging from semiconductor manufacturing to biotechnology. Working under a CRADA, the researchers have constructed the first prototype of a low-temperature ion source.

A new generation of odor-releasing materials for training dogs

September 20, 2013 8:03 am | News | Comments

Traditionally, the training of bomb-sniffing dogs has been a hazardous job, but newly developed odor-releasing materials could take the risk out of that work. Scientists at NIST are seeking to patent a novel system that can capture scents and release them over time.

Physicists create “crystal” of spin-swapping ultracold gas

September 19, 2013 7:50 am | News | Comments

Physicists at JILA have created a crystal-like arrangement of ultracold gas molecules that can swap quantum "spin" properties with nearby and distant partners. The novel structure might be used to simulate or even invent new materials that derive exotic properties from quantum spin behavior, for electronics or other practical applications.

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Microfluidics technique recovers DNA for identification

September 18, 2013 2:13 pm | News | Comments

A team of researchers at NIST and Applied Research Associates, Inc. has demonstrated an improved microfluidic technique for recovering DNA from real-world, complex mixtures such as dirt. According to the researchers their technique delivers DNA from these crude samples with much less effort and in less time than conventional techniques and yields DNA concentrations optimal for human identification procedures.

NIST, five journals find way to manage data errors in research

September 10, 2013 9:09 am | News | Comments

Poor research data can lead to mistakes in equipment selection, over-design of industrial plant components, difficulty simulating and discovering new processes, and poor regulatory decisions. However, traditional peer review is not enough to ensure data quality amid the recent boom in scientific research findings, according to results of a 10-year collaboration between NIST and five technical journals.

NIST announces funding opportunity to support Alaska’s manufacturers

September 6, 2013 2:16 pm | News | Comments

Through its Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), NIST intends to fund a six-month project in support of Alaska's efforts to diversify its manufacturing base. U.S.-based nonprofit institutions or organizations, including state and local governments, are eligible to apply for the $150,000 award.

Limestone powder enhances performance of “green” concrete

September 4, 2013 9:02 am | News | Comments

Adding limestone powder to "green" concrete mixtures can significantly improve performance, report researchers from NIST and the Federal Highway Administration. The promising laboratory results suggest a path to greatly increasing the use of fly ash in concrete, leading to sizable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, construction costs and landfill volumes.

Grayscale technique opens third dimension for nanoscale lithography

August 29, 2013 3:32 pm | News | Comments

Engineers at NIST have developed a new technique for fabricating high aspect ratio 3-D nanostructures over large device areas using a combination of electron beam lithography, photolithography and resist spray coating. While it has long been possible to make complicated 3-D structures with many mask layers or expensive grayscale masks, the new technique enables researchers to etch features in two process steps without masks

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Hybrid Approach to Metrology

August 28, 2013 4:38 pm | Award Winners

At NIST, scientists have developed the first technology to effectively combine the best aspects of two or more different measurement techniques into a monolithic result, reducing measurement uncertainty through the application of model-based metrology.

Ytterbium atomic clocks set record for stability

August 23, 2013 9:30 am | News | Comments

A pair of experimental atomic clocks based on ytterbium atoms at NIST has set a new record for stability. The clocks act like 21st-century pendulums or metronomes that could swing back and forth with perfect timing for a period comparable to the age of the universe. NIST physicists report that the ytterbium clocks' tick is more stable than any other atomic clock.

NIST makes new recommendations for system patches, malware avoidance

August 22, 2013 8:43 am | News | Comments

Vulnerabilities in software and firmware are the easiest ways to attack a system, and two revised publications from NIST approach the problem by providing new guidance for software patching and warding off malware. The new computer security guides to help computer system managers protect their systems.

Researchers discover atomic clock can simulate quantum magnetism

August 9, 2013 9:31 am | News | Comments

Researchers at JILA have, for the first time, used an atomic clock as a quantum simulator, mimicking the behavior of a different, more complex quantum system. Atomic clocks now join a growing list of physical systems that can be used for modeling and perhaps eventually explaining the quantum mechanical behavior of exotic materials such as high-temperature superconductors, which conduct electricity without resistance.

Q-glasses could be a new class of solids

August 7, 2013 10:13 am | News | Comments

There may be more kinds of stuff than we thought. A team of researchers has reported possible evidence for a new category of solids, things that are neither pure glasses, crystals nor even exotic quasicrystals. Something else. The research team analyzed a solid alloy that they discovered in small discrete patches of a rapidly cooled mixture of aluminum, iron and silicon.

A step towards energy-efficient voltage control of magnetic devices

July 31, 2013 9:08 am | News | Comments

Researchers from NIST and the Univ. of California, Berkeley have discovered a way to create simultaneous images of both the magnetic and the electric domain structures in ferromagnetic/ferroelectric multilayer materials. By combining these two types of materials, it is possible to create low-power magnetic devices, including memory that can be controlled by electric fields instead of less energy-efficient magnetic fields.

EU, U.S. to extend cooperation on measurements, standards

July 25, 2013 8:08 am | News | Comments

The European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the U.S. Dept. of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) this week agreed to expand their current scientific cooperation to include new areas of research, such as energy, health care and clinical measurements, and food safety and nutrition.

Nanoscale indenter takes novel approach to measuring surface properties

July 24, 2013 9:12 am | News | Comments

Researchers from NIST and the Univ. of North Carolina have demonstrated a new design for an instrument, a "instrumented nanoscale indenter," that makes sensitive measurements of the mechanical properties of thin films and biomaterials. The NIST instrument uses a unique technique for precisely measuring the depth of the indentation in a test surface with no contact of the surface other than the probe tip itself.

Stiffening the backbone of DNA nanofibers

July 23, 2013 1:08 pm | News | Comments

An international collaboration has fabricated a self-assembled nanofiber from a DNA building block that contains both duplex and quadruplex DNA. This work is a first step toward the creation of new structurally heterogeneous, yet controllable, DNA-based materials exhibiting novel properties suitable for bottom-to-top self-assembly for nanofabrication.

New nanoscale imaging method finds application in plasmonics

July 18, 2013 9:43 am | News | Comments

Researchers from NIST and the Univ. of Maryland have shown how to make nanoscale measurements of critical properties of plasmonic nanomaterials—the specially engineered nanostructures that modify the interaction of light and matter for a variety of applications. Their technique is one of the few that allows researchers to make actual physical measurements of these materials at the nanoscale without affecting the nanomaterial's function.

Who are you? NIST biometric publication provides two new ways to tell quickly

July 16, 2013 1:55 pm | News | Comments

A Personal Identity Verification (PIV) card is a government-issued smart card used by federal employees and contractors to access government facilities and computer networks. To assist agencies seeking stronger security and greater operational flexibility, NIST has made several modifications to the previous version of Biometric Data Specification for PIV cards.

Study provides details on portable generator emissions

July 12, 2013 10:11 am | News | Comments

Despite warnings to the contrary, many people continue to operate portable generators indoors or close to open windows, resulting in more than 500 deaths since 2005. And each year, more than 20,000 people visit the emergency room and more than 4,000 are hospitalized due to exposure to toxic levels of carbon monoxide. A new computer modeling study scrutinizes the deadly relationship between carbon monoxide emissions and occupant exposure.

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