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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.

How to make a compact frequency comb in minutes

July 11, 2013 11:04 am | News | Comments

Laser frequency combs—high-precision tools for measuring different colors of light in an ever-growing range of applications such as advanced atomic clocks, medical diagnostics and astronomy—are not only getting smaller but also much easier to make. Physicists at NIST can now make the core of a miniature frequency comb in one minute. Conventional microfabrication techniques, by contrast, may require hours, days or even weeks.

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NIST to create center for advanced materials research

June 27, 2013 8:17 am | News | Comments

The National Institute of Standards and Technology this week announced that it plans to establish a new Advanced Materials Center of Excellence to facilitate collaborations between NIST and researchers from academia and industry on advanced materials development. Fund at about $25 million over five years, the center will emphasize innovations in measurement technology, modeling, simulation, and data and informatics tools

New photon detector knows when to “not know”

June 26, 2013 12:53 pm | News | Comments

In secure communications, which can rely on quantum information contained in one of four wavelength phase states, wrong is worse than "I don't know." Researchers at NIST and the Joint Quantum Institute have built a single-photon detector that avoids this problem, making highly accurate measurements of incoming photons while knowing when not to give a conclusive answer.

Microscopy technique could help computer industry develop 3-D components

June 26, 2013 8:14 am | News | Comments

Through-focus scanning optical microscopy, a technique developed several years ago at NIST for improving optical microscopes, now has been applied to monitoring the next generation of computer chip circuit components, potentially providing the semiconductor industry with a crucial tool for improving chips for the next decade or more.

New quantum dot technique combines best of optical and electron microscopy

June 12, 2013 6:08 pm | News | Comments

It's not reruns of "The Jetsons", but researchers working at NIST have developed a new microscopy technique that uses a process similar to how an old tube television produces a picture—cathodoluminescence—to image nanoscale features. The fast, versatile, and high-resolution technique allows scientists to view surface and subsurface features potentially as small as 10 nm in size.

Observation of spin Hall effect in quantum gas is step toward "atomtronics"

June 6, 2013 8:20 am | News | Comments

Researchers at NIST have reported the first observation of the spin Hall effect in a Bose-Einstein condensate, a cloud of ultracold atoms acting as a single quantum object. As one consequence, they made the atoms, which spin like a child's top, skew to one side or the other, by an amount dependent on the spin direction. The phenomenon is a step toward applications in "atomtronics".

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Giant planets offer help in faster research on material surfaces

June 5, 2013 12:04 pm | News | Comments

Based on the mathematics used to model the interaction of light with the atmospheres of giant gas planets, a new algorithm from the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw offers a fast and accurate way to better understand physical and chemical properties of materials' surfaces.

NIST, partners offer solution to communications impasse in factories

May 29, 2013 5:15 pm | News | Comments

Once uncommunicative industrial robots and machine tools are now beginning to talk turkey, thanks to a prototype application developed by a team of partner companies led by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM). This application was successfully demonstrated and tested by manufacturing researchers at NIST.

Scientists build record-setting metamaterial flat lens

May 24, 2013 10:20 am | News | Comments

For the first time, scientists working NIST have demonstrated a new type of lens that bends and focuses ultraviolet light in a way that it can create ghostly, 3D images of objects that float in free space. The easy-to-build lens could lead to improved photolithography, nanoscale manipulation and manufacturing, and even high-resolution 3D imaging, as well as a number of as-yet-unimagined applications in a diverse range of fields.

New filtration material could make petroleum refining cheaper, more efficient

May 23, 2013 10:55 pm | News | Comments

A newly synthesized material might provide a dramatically improved method for separating the highest-octane components of gasoline. These components are expensive to isolate. Created in the laboratory of Jeffrey Long, professor of chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, the material is a metal-organic framework, or MOF, which can be imagined as a sponge with microscopic holes.

Performance improvement in solar-powered hydrogen generation

May 15, 2013 9:43 am | News | Comments

Using a powerful combination of microanalytic techniques that simultaneously image photoelectric current and chemical reaction rates across a surface on a micrometer scale, researchers at NIST have shed new light on what may become a cost-effective way to generate hydrogen gas directly from water and sunlight.

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Innovation in spectroscopy could improve greenhouse gas detection

May 15, 2013 8:37 am | News | Comments

Detecting greenhouse gases in the atmosphere could soon become far easier with the help of an innovative technique developed by a team at NIST, where scientists have overcome an issue preventing the effective use of lasers to rapidly scan samples. The team says the technique also could work for other jobs that require gas detection, including the search for hidden explosives and monitoring chemical processes in industry and the environment.

Temporal filtering technique improves solid-state single photon sources

May 9, 2013 3:21 pm | News | Comments

An international collaboration led by researchers at NIST has demonstrated a novel temporal filtering approach that improves the performance of triggered single photon sources based on solid-state quantum emitters. The technique is compatible with a broad class of photon sources, and is expected to provide significant improvements in areas important for applications in photonic quantum information science.

New NIST measurement tool is on target for MEMS industry

May 3, 2013 9:19 am | News | Comments

As markets for miniature, hybrid machines known as MEMS grow and diversify, NIST has introduced a long-awaited measurement tool that will help growing numbers of device designers, manufacturers and customers to see eye to eye on eight dimensional and material property measurements that are key to device performance.

Transfer of ultraprecise time signals over a wireless optical channel

May 2, 2013 8:18 am | News | Comments

By bouncing eye-safe laser pulses off a mirror on a hillside, researchers at NIST have transferred ultraprecise time signals through open air with unprecedented precision equivalent to the "ticking" of the world's best next-generation atomic clocks. The demonstration shows how next-generation atomic clocks at different locations could be linked wirelessly to improve distribution of time and frequency information.

Researchers propose new old way to purify carbon nanotubes

May 1, 2013 11:46 am | News | Comments

An old, somewhat passé, trick used to purify protein samples based on their affinity for water has found new fans at NIST, where materials scientists are using it to divvy up solutions of carbon nanotubes, separating the metallic nanotubes from semiconductors. They say it's a fast, easy, and cheap way to produce high-purity samples of carbon nanotubes for use in nanoscale electronics and many other applications.

Spray-on coating combines carbon nanotubes with ceramic

April 17, 2013 2:55 pm | News | Comments

Researchers from NIST and Kansas State University have demonstrated a spray-on mixture of carbon nanotubes and ceramic that has unprecedented ability to resist damage while absorbing laser light. The new material improves on NIST's earlier version of a spray-on nanotube coating for optical power detectors and has already attracted industry interest.

Experts propose research priorities for making concrete “greener”

April 8, 2013 4:20 am | News | Comments

The challenge of making concrete greener—reducing its sizable carbon footprint without compromising performance—is just like the world's most ubiquitous manufactured material—hard! But, according to a new report from NIST, the potential engineering performance, energy-efficiency, and environmental benefits make it a challenge worth tackling.

Scientists use cloud of atoms as optical memory device

April 4, 2013 9:11 am | News | Comments

Talk about storing data in the cloud. Scientists at the Joint Quantum Institute of NIST and the University of Maryland have taken this to a whole new level by demonstrating that they can store visual images within quite an ethereal memory device—a thin vapor of rubidium atoms. The effort may prove helpful in creating memory for quantum computers.

Quantum dot commands light

April 2, 2013 10:06 am | by E. Edwards, JQI | News | Comments

All computers, even the future quantum versions, use logic operations or “gates,” which are the fundamental building blocks of computational processes. Joint Quantum Institute scientists, led by Professor Edo Waks, have performed an ultrafast logic gate on a photon, using a semiconductor quantum dot. The logic is a Controlled-NOT gate, which is significant because it can serve as the basis for any quantum information protocol.

Nanoscale edge variations observed with record-breaking resolution

March 28, 2013 9:35 am | News | Comments

A team of researchers from the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, the University of Maryland, and NIST have measured large variations in the magnetic properties along the edge of a thin-film 500-nm-diameter disk. This work represents a significant development in the measurement of magnetic thin-film edge properties, which are especially important for nanodevices, such as magnetic memory cells, where the edge to area ratio is large.

NIST tests underscore potential hazards of green laser pointers

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

Using a low-cost apparatus designed to quickly and accurately measure the properties of handheld laser devices, NIST researchers tested 122 laser pointers and found that nearly 90% of green pointers and about 44% of red pointers tested were out of compliance with federal safety regulations. The NIST test apparatus was designed so that it can be replicated easily by other institutions.

NIST tests underscore hazards of green laser pointers

March 20, 2013 3:08 pm | News | Comments

Using a low-cost apparatus designed to quickly and accurately measure the properties of handheld laser devices, NIST researchers tested 122 laser pointers and found that nearly 90% of green pointers and about 44% of red pointers tested were out of compliance with federal safety regulations. Often, these pointers emitted more visible power than allowed by law

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