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A low-cost route to ultrathin platinum films

December 13, 2012 8:14 am | News | Comments

A research group at NIST has developed a relatively simple, fast, and effective method of depositing uniform, ultrathin layers of platinum atoms on a surface. The new process exploits an unexpected feature of electrodeposition of platinum—if you drive the reaction much more strongly than usual, a new reaction steps in to shuts down the metal deposition process, allowing an unprecedented level of control of the film thickness.

"Magic zero" technique reduces atomic clock uncertainty

December 6, 2012 9:29 am | News | Comments

Scientists at NIST have devised and demonstrated a novel method for making the most precise measurements to date of the properties of two atomic transitions in rubidium, and element whose transitions are used as frequency standards for many atomic clocks. The technique is accurate to about 0.3%, which is 10 times more accurate than the best theoretical values.

Scientists image molecular structure of polymer blends

November 29, 2012 9:31 am | News | Comments

Using an enhanced form of "chemical microscopy" developed at NIST, researchers there have shown that they can peer into the structure of blended polymers, resolving details of the molecular arrangement at sub-micrometer levels. The capability has important implications for the design of industrially important polymers like the polyethylene blends used to repair aging waterlines.

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NIST releases annual report on federal technology transfer

November 28, 2012 4:31 pm | News | Comments

Each year NIST releases a report on technology transfer from federal laboratories, detailing efforts to transfer the results of public investment in research to meet marketplace and other needs. The newest technology transfer report tallies the thousands of patents, cooperative agreements, licenses, and other pathways by which these transfers happened in 2010.

Scientists image the molecular structure of polymer blends

November 28, 2012 11:34 am | News | Comments

Using an enhanced form of "chemical microscopy" developed at NIST, researchers there have shown that they can peer into the structure of blended polymers, resolving details of the molecular arrangement at sub-micrometer levels. The capability has important implications for the design of industrially important polymers like the polyethylene blends used to repair aging waterlines.

Key property of graphene sustained over wide ranges of density, energy

November 15, 2012 7:33 am | News | Comments

A collaboration led by researchers from the NIST Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology has shown, for the first time, that charge carriers in graphene continue to behave as massless particles, like photons, over wider ranges of both density and energy than previously measured or modeled.

Carbon nanotubes may protect DNA from oxidation

November 14, 2012 4:07 pm | News | Comments

Researchers at NIST have provided evidence in the laboratory that single-wall carbon nanotubes may help protect DNA molecules from damage by oxidation. In nature, oxidation is a common chemical process in which a reactive chemical removes electrons from DNA and may increase the chance for mutations in cells. More studies are needed to see if the in vitro protective effect of nanotubes reported in the laboratory also occurs in vivo, that is, within a living organism.

Coming soon: Tabletop molecular movies

November 7, 2012 2:07 pm | News | Comments

One of the most urgently sought-after goals in modern science is the ability to observe the detailed dynamics of chemical reactions as they happen—that is, on the spatial scale of molecules, atoms, and electrons, and on the time scale of picoseconds or even shorter. A team of scientists at NIST has devised and demonstrated a highly unusual, compact, and relatively inexpensive x-ray source for an imaging system that may soon be employed to produce the kind of “molecular movies” that scientists and engineers need.

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The first controllable atom SQUID

November 7, 2012 9:43 am | News | Comments

Scientists at NIST have created the first controllable atomic circuit that functions analogously to a superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID) and allows operators to select a particular quantum state of the system at will. By manipulating atoms in a superfluid ring thinner than a human hair the investigators were able for the first time to measure rotation-induced discrete quantized changes in the atoms’ state, thereby providing a proof-of-principle design for an “atomtronic” inertial sensor.

Versatile optomechanical sensors aid atomic force microscopy

October 25, 2012 2:25 pm | News | Comments

Researchers from NIST have developed on-chip optomechanical sensors for atomic force microscopy (AFM) that extend the range of mechanical properties found in commercial AFM cantilevers, potentially enabling the use of this technology to study a wide variety of physical systems.

NRI to lead five-year effort to develop post-CMOS electronics

October 19, 2012 8:17 am | News | Comments

NIST announced the selection of the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative (NRI), a collaboration of several key firms in the semiconductor industry, to support university-centered research for the development of after-the-next-generation "nanoelectronics" technology. NRI consists of participants from the semiconductor industry, including GLOBALFOUNDRIES, IBM, Intel, Micron Technology, and Texas Instruments.

At the nanoscale, graphite can turn friction upside down

October 17, 2012 12:21 pm | News | Comments

If you ease up on a pencil, does it slide more easily? Sure. But maybe not if the tip is sharpened down to nanoscale dimensions. A team of researchers at NIST has found that if graphite is sticky enough, as measured by a nanoscale probe, it actually becomes harder to slide a tip across the material's surface as you decrease pressure—the exact opposite of our everyday experience.  

New method measures movements of tiny devices at every step

October 17, 2012 7:35 am | News | Comments

Makers of minuscule moving machines, do you know where your micro- and nanorobots really are? Care to bet? A team of researchers at NIST likely would prevail in such a hypothetical wager. On the basis of its findings in a study of the motions of an experimental microelectromechanical system, the team might even offer better-then-even odds.

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Improving performance of a solar fuel catalyst

October 4, 2012 5:17 am | News | Comments

Hydrogen gas that is created using solar energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen has the potential to be a cost-effective fuel source if the efficiency of the catalysts used in the water-splitting process can be improved. By controlling the placement of key additives in an iron oxide catalyst, researchers from NIST have found that the final location of the dopants and the temperature at which they are incorporated into the catalyst crystal lattice determine overall catalytic performance in splitting water.

Engineers collaborate on inexpensive DNA sequencing method

October 4, 2012 4:33 am | News | Comments

Rapid, accurate genetic sequencing soon may be within reach of every doctor's office if recent research from the NIST and Columbia University can be commercialized effectively. The team has demonstrated a potentially low-cost, reliable way to obtain the complete DNA sequences of any individual using a sort of molecular ticker-tape reader, potentially enabling easy detection of disease markers in a patient's DNA.

Near-field scanning microwave microscope: Big at the nanoscale

October 1, 2012 5:52 am | News | Comments

The ability to determine the composition and physics of nanoscale materials and devices at NIST is about to improve dramatically with the arrival of a new near-field scanning microwave microscope (NSMM) design. Researchers there, using existing commercial and homemade NSMMs, have pioneered many applications, notably including determination of semiconductor dopant distribution in 2D and 3D. Now they hope to look at mechanical and magnetic resonance on the nanoscale.

Fast, sensitive nanophotonic motion sensor developed for silicon microdevices

September 20, 2012 3:58 am | News | Comments

Using a microscopic optical sensor that can be batch-fabricated on a silicon chip at low cost, researchers from NIST have measured the mechanical motion between two nanofabricated structures with a precision close to the fundamental limit imposed by quantum mechanics.

Computer model identifies candidate refrigerants to combat global warming

September 19, 2012 5:26 am | News | Comments

Researchers at NIST have developed a new computational method for identifying candidate refrigerant fluids with low global warming potential—the tendency to trap heat in the atmosphere for many decades—as well as other desirable performance and safety features. The NIST effort is the most extensive systematic search for a new class of refrigerants that meet the latest concerns about climate change.

Researchers introduce method for imaging defects in magnetic nanodevices

September 14, 2012 5:24 am | News | Comments

An international team of researchers have demonstrated a microscopy method to identify magnetic defects in an array of magnetic nanostructures. The method represents an important step towards identifying, measuring, and correcting the magnetic properties of defective devices in future information storage technologies.

Computerized house to generate as much energy as it uses

September 13, 2012 4:11 am | News | Comments

NIST unveiled a new laboratory designed to demonstrate that a typical-looking suburban home for a family of four can generate as much energy as it uses in a year. Following an initial year-long experiment, the facility will be used to improve test methods for energy-efficient technologies and develop cost-effective design standards for energy-efficient homes that could reduce overall energy consumption and harmful pollution, and save families money on their monthly utility bills.

The world's most stable laser

September 11, 2012 4:48 am | News | Comments

The world's most stable laser—with frequency variation of no more than 2 parts in 10,000 trillion—has been developed and tested by an international collaboration of scientists at NIST/JILA in Boulder, Colo., and a group at Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt, the German counterpart of NIST. The work represents a new approach for constructing high-quality cavities that will bring more than an order of magnitude improvement over prior designs.

Low-noise, chip-based optical wavelength converter demonstrated

September 6, 2012 5:52 am | News | Comments

Researchers from the NIST Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology have demonstrated a low-noise device for changing the wavelength of light using nanofabricated waveguides created on a silicon-based platform using standard planar fabrication technology.

'Hybrid metrology' method could improve computer chips

September 5, 2012 12:40 pm | News | Comments

A refined method developed at NIST for measuring nanometer-sized objects may help computer manufacturers more effectively size up the myriad tiny switches packed onto chips' surfaces. The method, which makes use of multiple measuring instruments and statistical techniques, is already drawing attention from industry.

Simulating the sun for photovoltaic research

September 4, 2012 6:10 am | News | Comments

Researchers at NIST's Physical Measurement Laboratory have devised a novel source of portable sunlight that may fill an urgent need in renewable energy research—namely, light sources that generate a near-perfect solar spectrum to be used in testing the performance and efficiency of photovoltaic materials.

Tracking fluorescent nanoparticles using laser

August 30, 2012 8:57 am | News | Comments

NIST Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology researchers have determined the optimum path in which to scan a laser beam in order to track a fluorescing nanoparticle as the particle moves inside a fluid or gas in two or three dimensions.

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