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First observation of the Hall effect in a Bose-Einstein condensate

June 19, 2012 10:46 am | News | Comments

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.

JILA frequency comb helps evaluate novel biomedical decontamination method

June 14, 2012 11:28 am | News | Comments

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.

New quantum computing algorithm could stimulate giant particle accelerators

June 14, 2012 4:54 am | News | Comments

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.

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NIST effort could improve high-tech medical scanners

June 13, 2012 4:30 am | News | Comments

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.

Physicists use ultrafast lasers to create tabletop X-ray device

June 8, 2012 5:02 am | News | Comments

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 will simulate particle collisions

May 31, 2012 11:13 am | News | Comments

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 SRM supports the fight against terrorist bombings

May 30, 2012 4:33 am | News | Comments

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).

NIST hydrogen test facility starts delivering data

May 16, 2012 4:03 am | News | Comments

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.

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Spin polarized supercurrents optimized with a simple flip

May 14, 2012 5:52 am | News | Comments

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.

New point for dew point

May 10, 2012 5:54 am | News | Comments

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.

Beaming up on the way to space

May 7, 2012 5:43 am | News | Comments

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?

New protocol enables wireless and secure biometric acquisition with Web services

May 4, 2012 11:06 am | News | Comments

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.

Light touch keeps a grip on delicate nanoparticles

May 3, 2012 9:34 am | News | Comments

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.

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Prototype bioreactor evaluates engineered tissue while creating it

May 3, 2012 4:56 am | News | Comments

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.

Fabrication method can affect the use of block copolymer thin films

May 2, 2012 10:01 am | News | Comments

A new study by a team including scientists from NIST indicates that thin polymer films can have different properties depending on the method by which they are made. The results suggest that deeper work is necessary to explore the best way of creating these films, which are used in applications ranging from high-tech mirrors to computer memory devices.

NIST physicists benchmark quantum simulator with hundreds of qubits

April 25, 2012 9:23 am | News | Comments

Physicists at NIST have built a quantum simulator that can engineer interactions among hundreds of quantum bits (qubits)—10 times more than previous devices. As described in a recent study, the simulator has passed a series of important benchmarking tests and scientists are poised to study problems in material science that are impossible to model on conventional computers.

Miniature sensor measures magnetic activity in human brain

April 19, 2012 12:28 pm | News | Comments

A miniature atom-based magnetic sensor developed by NIST has passed an important research milestone by successfully measuring human brain activity. Experiments reported this week verify the sensor's potential for biomedical applications such as studying mental processes and advancing the understanding of neurological diseases.

Hyperspectral imaging: Shedding new light on wound healing

April 9, 2012 4:27 am | News | Comments

Clinicians who treat severe wounds may soon have powerful new diagnostic tools in the form of hyperspectral imaging devices, calibrated to new NIST standard reference spectra, which will provide unprecedented perspective on the physiology of tissue injury and healing.

Scientists produce first superluminal light pulses using four-wave mixing

April 6, 2012 5:45 am | News | Comments

Scientists in NIST's Physical Measurement Laboratory's Quantum Measurement Division have produced the first superluminal light pulses made by using a technique called four-wave mixing, creating two separate pulses whose peaks propagate faster than the speed of light in a vacuum.

Superradiant laser offers substantial stability improvement

April 4, 2012 3:34 pm | News | Comments

An ordinary laser relies on millions of particles of light (photons) ricocheting back and forth between two mirrors. This doesn’t happen in a new JILA laser that relies on a million rubidium atoms working in synchrony to boost photon emissions rates by a factor of 10,000. With such technology, even a highly stable, low-power laser can be superradiant.

Online tool helps assess intellectual property awareness

April 4, 2012 4:39 am | News | Comments

A new online tool can help small companies and entrepreneurs evaluate their awareness of intellectual property (IP)—trade secrets, company data, and more—and learn how to protect it. The NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office teamed up to create the IP Awareness Assessment, which is available at no cost to users.

Nanoscale magnetic media diagnostics by rippling spin waves

April 3, 2012 12:04 pm | News | Comments

Memory devices based on magnetism are one of the core technologies of the computing industry, and engineers are working to develop new forms of magnetic memory that are faster, smaller, and more energy efficient than today's flash and SDRAM memory. They now have a new tool developed by a team from NIST, the University of Maryland Nanocenter, and the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden.

Novel filter material could cut natural gas refining costs

March 29, 2012 10:35 am | News | Comments

Measurements taken by a team including NIST scientists show that a newly devised material has the ability to separate closely related components of natural gas from one another, a task that currently demands a good deal of energy to accomplish. The results might improve the efficiency of the distillation process.

Findings awaken age-old anesthesia question

March 22, 2012 7:01 am | News | Comments

Why does inhaling anesthetics cause unconsciousness? New insights into this century-and-a-half-old question may spring from research performed at NIST. Scientists from NIST and the National Institutes of Health have found hints that anesthesia may affect the organization of fat molecules, or lipids, in a cell's outer membrane—potentially altering the ability to send signals along nerve cell membranes.

Avoiding electrolyte failure in nanoscale lithium batteries

March 21, 2012 4:54 am | News | Comments

It turns out you can be too thin—especially if you're a nanoscale battery. A team of researchers built a series of nanowire batteries to demonstrate that the thickness of the electrolyte layer can dramatically affect the performance of the battery, effectively setting a lower limit to the size of the tiny power sources.

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