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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.

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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.

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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.

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".

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.

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.

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