The Quantum Measurement Division (QMD) provides measurement and data support for a broad range of national needs, conducts metrology research enabling more accurate determination of SI units and fundamental constants, performs basic electrical, mass, force and torque calibrations, distributes its findings widely and effectively, and maintains an active schedule of services, partnerships and collaborations with industry, academe and government.
In addition, the division’s work contributes directly to the development and global dissemination of constantly improved international standards. Through the Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA, an interdisciplinary unit of the Scientific Committee of the International Council for Science) and other avenues, QMD conducts basic research to support CODATA, and to develop measurement science for future technologies in the areas of quantum information science (a working quantum computer is one near-term goal), quantum-based measurements, and quantum materials and post-CMOS technology.
The strategy of the Quantum Measurement Division is to develop and apply quantum physics research methods, including the interaction between atoms and electromagnetic fields, to achieve fundamental advances in measurement science – some at the quantum limit – relevant to industry and the technical community, and to produce and critically compile physical reference data.
Quantum measurements are essential to progress in defining the SI base units. The duration of the second, for example, is defined by emissions from cesium atoms, and the length of the meter derives from the speed of light. Even the kilogram (the only base unit currently defined by an artifact) is the subject of QMD measurement research, part of a worldwide effort to redefine the kilogram using invariants of nature.