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PML at Work

Highlights of Science and Services



BossNIST's Michael Boss to Receive Tech Transfer Award for MRI Calibration Standard

The device developed by Boss for calibrating MRI scanners is designed to standardize imaging of the diffusion of water molecules, a technique that can be useful in diagnosing traumatic brain injury (TBI), neurodegenerative diseases, and cancer.




Accelerator calibration serviceNew Accelerometer Calibration Service to Start Soon Video

This state-of-the-art calibration service for will be sensitive enough to detect motion over distances as small as a few nanometers (the size scale of a single molecule) and frequencies up to 50,000 cycles per second (50 kHz). 




A new map for solid-state lightingFollowing a New MAP for Solid-State Lighting

NIST has now begun offering customers the second generation of its highly successful SSL Measurement Assurance Program (MAP-2), including a new set of lamp artifacts, new detailed measurement protocols, and revised operations.




Laser tracker testingPML to Help Automated Precision Incorporated Improve Laser Tracker Measurement Testing

In response to industrial needs, API and NIST will jointly research and develop new performance tests to help the automotive and aerospace industries understand and improve their industrial measurements.




Electronic brachytherapyComputing for Better Radiation Therapy

Doctors devising a plan of attack on a tumor may one day gain another tactical advantage thanks to a series of sophisticated calculations proposed by PML’s Dosimetry group.




New plug and pay standardsNIST Group Drafts Plug-and-Pay Standards

Plug-in electric vehicles are prompting increased demand for the electrical equivalent of the corner gas station. Now a standard produced by NIST’s U.S. National Work Group on Electric Vehicle Refueling and Submetering appears to be on its way to adoption.




Radioactive DatingHidden Uncertainties Uncovered in Nuclear Forensic Measurement

A little detective work by nuclear physicists has uncovered hidden uncertainties in a popular method for precisely measuring radioactive nuclides, often used to make reference materials for forensic analyses such as radioactive dating.




Unit pricingNew Best Practices Guide Shows Unit Pricing Is a Great Deal

In an effort to help shoppers everywhere get the best value for their money, researchers at NIST have produced a best practices guide for the layout and design of unit price labels.




Portable Vacuum StandardNew Portable Vacuum Standard

A novel Portable Vacuum Standard (PVS) has been added to the roster of NIST’s Standard Reference Instruments (SRI). It is now available for purchase as part of NIST’s ongoing commitment to disseminate measurement standards.




Million-pound weightMillion-Pound Makeover: Restoration Begins on NIST's 50-year-old Deadweight Machine Video

For the first time in half a century, NIST’s 4.45-million newton (equivalent to one million pounds-force) deadweight machine – the largest in the world – is being disassembled for cleaning, restoration, and recalibration. The first stage of the process, dismantling the top half of the three-story stack of weights, is now complete.



Hybrid spin valveHybrid Memory Device for Superconducting Computing Video

A team of NIST scientists has devised and demonstrated a novel nanoscale memory technology for superconducting computing that could hasten the advent of an urgently awaited, low-energy alternative to power-hungry conventional data centers and supercomputers.



2D contactBuilding a Better 2D Material with Silver 

Two-dimensional (2D) materials such as molybdenum-disulfide (MoS2) are attracting much attention for future electronic and photonic applications ranging from high-performance computing to flexible and pervasive sensors and optoelectronics. Now PML scientists have discovered a better metal contact that improves two-dimensional transistor performance.



Weighing GasWeighing Gas with Sound and Microwaves

NIST scientists have developed a novel method to rapidly and accurately calibrate gas flow meters, such as those used to measure natural gas flowing in pipelines, by applying a fundamental physical principle.




PET-MR phantomPrototype for First Traceable PET-MR Phantom

As cancer diagnostic tools, the new PET-MR imagers have shown promise, but thoroughly assessing their clinical performance requires calibrating the machines in a way that is traceable to a national standard.




Open SourceOpen-Source Software for Quantum Information

NIST has partnered with the private sector to develop the next-generation open-source control software for quantum information systems.




AFM probeNIST Sensor Could Improve One of Nano Research’s Most Useful Microscopes

Spotting molecule-sized features—common in computer circuits and nanoscale devices—may become both easier and more accurate with a new sensor developed at NIST.




Photonic thermometersLighting the Path to Smaller, Tougher Thermometers

Two prototypes for tiny chip-based thermometers are illuminating light’s potential to revolutionize the way temperature is gauged.




Time standard for NASDAQNIST-based Time Standard For NASDAQ

NASDAQ has announced the launch of a precision time-stamping service for tens of billions of dollars of electronic financial transactions each day based on remote provision of NIST official U.S. time.




Neutron CT scanNeutron Scan Helps Solve 787 Battery Fire Puzzle

NIST imaging with a neutron CT scan was used in a recent investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.





Ultrasonic thermometersUltrasonic Thermometers for Medical Dosimetry

PML researchers are exploring whether ultrasound can be used to improve quality assurance tests for radiotherapy beams. 





SEM for STEMPML Outreach Promotes STEM Excitement

PML is helping to bring teachers, students, and manufacturers together to give students access to tabletop scanning electron microscopes.




iNEMI board of directors visit NISTiNEMI Board of Directors Visits NIST

NIST hosted the Board of Directors of the International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative (iNEMI) this week for an overview of NIST's support of the electronics industry.  




neutron image of rotor gaugeProtecting Vacuum Gauges: Patent Pending

PML researchers have applied for a provisional patent on a device to protect expensive “spinning-rotor” high-vacuum gauges – used as transfer standards and reference standards by calibration labs – that are vulnerable to damage during transport.  




X-ray image of forkliftBetter Cargo Inspection Standards at Border Crossings

A joint NIST-DHS project recently completed a series of image quality measurements of a high-energy x-ray vehicle-screening system at a new port-of-entry near El Paso, TX.




silicate bondingThin, Strong Bond for Vacuum Seal

An ultra-stable, ultra-thin bonding technology has been adapted by PML researchers for use as a super-strong vacuum seal that is less than 100 nanometers thick.




binary digitsLow Error-Rate Detector System for Telecommunications

NIST scientists have devised an experimental photon-detection system for communications with error rates far below even the most ideal conventional designs.




laser cutting metalNIST Fires Up Extended Calibration Service for Laser Welding and More

PML has launched a new multi-kilowatt laser power measurement service capability for high-power lasers of the sort used in cutting and welding metals, or defusing unexploded land mines.




nanowire arrayUniform Nanowire Arrays for Science and Manufacturing

Researchers reach a new milestone in the quest to make defect-free nanowires with diameters in the range of 100 nm -- at controlled size and location -- for applications including printable transistors for flexible electronics and high-efficiency light-emitting diodes. 




nanoscale junctionComputing with Single Atoms

The final frontier of microchip miniaturization is a transistor on the scale of a single atom. PML has iniitated a new research program to create just such a device in manufacturable, solid-state form by harnessing two capabilities unique to NIST.




Earth seen from spaceEarth Science: Seeing the Surface Clearly

NASA is funding NIST to use its Traveling SIRCUS laser-based sensor calibration facility to calibrate and characterize the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) sensor on the first satellite in the Joint Polar Satellite System. JPSS will constitute the next generation of polar-orbiting weather satellites, to be developed by NASA and operated by NOAA. The first is expected to launch in early 2017. 



chip-scale magnetometerTiny Magnetic Sensor Attracts Interest

Ultra-sensitive magnetic sensor technology pioneered at PML may soon be commercialized for a host of applications from detection of unexploded bombs and underground pipes to geophysical surveying and perhaps even imaging of the brain and heart.




ocean waveGauging the Hue of the Sea

The color of scattered light from sunlit seawater contains important information about ocean health and concentration of substances such as chlorophyll. But taking color measurements from ships has been difficult because of interference from other sources of light -- for example, skylight reflected off the ocean's surface.

Now PML scientists have designed and produced a sand-blasted blue tile to serve as an ocean-like reflectance sample.  



NISTAR instrumentTaking the Wraps off NISTAR

The NIST Advanced Radiometer (NISTAR), mothballed for more than a decade, is slated to make its space debut as part of the Deep Space Climate Observatory mission.




nanoscale structuresNIST-Intel Partnership Workshop

At the seventh in a series of workshops, researchers shared state-of-the-art samples for evaluation by about 20 NIST characterization techniques that do not exist anywhere else in the world.




QuICSUMD and NIST Announce the Creation of the Joint Center for Quantum Information and Computer Science (QuICS)

Scientists at the new center will conduct basic research to understand how quantum systems can be effectively used to store, transport, and process information.




body armorBetter Body Armor Standards for US Army

PML scientists are improving the standardization of the bullet-stopping chest and back plates worn by US soldiers in battle.




Pressure sensorWorld’s First Photonic Pressure Sensor Outshines Traditional Mercury Standard

Within weeks of seeing “first light,” a novel pressure-sensing device has surpassed the performance of the best mercury-based techniques in resolution, speed, and range at a fraction of the size. The new instrument, called a fixed-length optical cavity (FLOC), works by detecting subtle changes in the wavelength of light passing through a cavity filled with nitrogen gas.



CombsNIST 'Combs' the Atmosphere to Measure Greenhouse Gases

In a recent demonstration, a pair of laser frequency combs was used to measure the simultaneous signatures of several greenhouse gases along a 2-kilometer path.




Laser calibration serviceNIST Launches New Calibration Service for High-Power Lasers

The new service is offered for power levels up to 10 kilowatts(kW). These high-power lasers are used by manufacturers for applications such as cutting and welding metals, as well as by the military for more specialized applications like defusing unexploded land mines.



Big GTrouble with a Capital 'G'

NIST has taken part in a new push to address a persistent and growing problem in physics: the value of G, the Newtonian constant of gravitation. The more experiments researchers conduct to pin G down, the more their results diverge.




close-up of transition edge sensorImproving on X-ray Vision

Advanced spectrometers pioneered at NIST may speed the arrival of long-awaited materials and devices including advanced high-temperature superconductors and high-efficiency photovoltaic cells.




design for diffusion phantomNew Phantoms for Better Brain Imaging

Image-calibration technology designed and developed by NIST scientists has been adopted for use in multi-site clinical trials in the United States and Europe to study the effects of traumatic brain injury.






James Olthoff Named Director of NIST’s Physical Measurement Laboratory

James Olthoff, a 27-year veteran of NIST, has been named director of PML.





LadarNIST Laser Comb System Maps 3D Surfaces Remotely for Manufacturing, Forensics

Researchers at NIST have demonstrated a laser-based imaging system that creates high-definition 3D maps of surfaces from as far away as 10.5 meters. The method may be useful in diverse fields, including precision machining and assembly, as well as in forensics.



Metric superherosIntroducing the League of SI Superheroes: The New Champions of Metric 

To celebrate Metric Week (Oct. 5-11), NIST would like to introduce you to the League of SI Superheroes. The League of SI Superheroes use their incredible powers of measurement to perform amazing feats of science and engineering.