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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Efforts to eliminate contamination has allowed users of scanning electron microscopes (SEMs) to measure the exact features of a sample, not the sample features plus a layer of contamination. But contamination persists, which is why researchers at NIST are working to elevate microscope accuracy by eliminating the gradual buildup of carbonaceous material on a sample, introduced by the action of the charged particle beam.
Researchers at NIST have developed a new microscope able to view and measure an important but elusive property of the nanoscale magnets used in an advanced, experimental form of digital memory. The new instrument already has demonstrated its utility with initial results that suggest how to limit power consumption in future computer memories.
One of the oldest forms of computer memory is back again—but in a 21st century microscopic device designed by physicists at NIST for possible use in a quantum computer. The NIST team has demonstrated that information encoded as a specific point in a traveling microwave signal—the vertical and horizontal positions of a wave pattern at a certain time—can be transferred to the mechanical beat of a microdrum and later retrieved with 65% efficiency, a good figure for experimental systems like this.
Scientists in Maryland have built a new practical, high-efficiency nanostructured electron source. Unlike thermionic electron sources, which use an electric current to boil electrons off the surface of a wire, the new emitter uses highly porous silicon carbide to avoid the energy efficiency problems of traditional emitters. This type of field emitter has a fast response and could lead to improved X-ray imaging systems.