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Tech Beat - September 27, 2007

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Editor: Michael Baum
Date created: June 8, 2012
Date Modified: June 8, 2012 
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NIST Announces 56 New Awards For Innovative Technology R&D

The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today announced 56 new awards for innovative industrial research and development projects under the agency’s Advanced Technology Program (ATP).

The new awards represent a broad range of technologies, including medical diagnostic techniques, alternative energy sources, manufacturing, semiconductor electronics, transportation, nanotechnology, energy conservation and automated language translation, among others.

A total of 69 companies and one non-profit organization will participate in the projects, which include nine joint ventures. Forty-eight of the projects are led by small businesses. The new awards potentially represent a total of up to $138.7 million in ATP funding together with an industry cost-share of up to $104 million, if all projects are carried through to completion. ATP awards are made contingent on available funding and on evidence of satisfactory progress throughout the multi-year research schedules.

The 56 projects were chosen in a competition announced last April and represent the last set of R&D projects to be funded under the ATP, which was abolished under the America COMPETES Act (P.L. 110-69). The act allows for continued support for ongoing ATP projects, including those chosen in the FY 2007 competition.

The ATP provided cost-shared support to enable or accelerate high-risk industrial research projects. Projects were selected for funding by a competitive, peer-reviewed process that evaluated the scientific and technical merit of each proposal and the potential for broad-based benefits to the nation if the technology were successfully developed.

NIST promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.

A list of the 56 new projects follows.


NIST Advanced Technology Program
Projects Announced on Sept. 27, 2007

Tumor Profiling System for Use in Assignment of Targeted Therapies by Layered Array Analysis
20/20 Gene Systems Inc. (Rockville, Md.)
 
Develop a technique, known as Layered Expression Scanning-Diagnostic, that can better predict whether cancer patients will respond to "personalized" chemotherapy drugs.
  • Project duration: 2.5 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $1,869 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $332 K
Ubiquitous Thermal Imager
Agiltron, Inc. (Woburn, Mass.)
Joint venture partners:
Advanced Microsensors (Shrewsbury, Mass.)
L-3 Communications Infrared Products (Dallas, Texas)
Develop a MEMS-based thermal imager technology that has the potential to overcome the existing cost barrier to broader use of the technology for the benefit of mass markets such as the automotive, firefighting, security and outdoor recreation industries.
  • Project duration: 4.5 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $7,936 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $8,205 K
Technical Innovations Enabling a New Direct Drive Wind Turbine Generator
American Superconductor Corporation (Westborough, Mass.)
Joint venture partner:
TECO-Westinghouse Motor Company (Round Rock, Texas)
Develop high-temperature superconducting wide-wire, coil, refrigeration and stator technologies for ultra low-speed generators that are light, efficient, and reliable for large offshore wind turbines.
  • Project duration: 2.5 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $3,407 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $3,407 K
Nanoscale Infrared Spectroscopy and Imaging: Breaking the Diffraction Limit by 50 fold
Anasys Instruments Corp. (Santa Barbara, Calif.)
 
Develop a set of technologies combining nanoscale probes and infrared spectroscopy to enable a measurement platform capable of imaging chemical composition at resolutions below 100 nanometers.
  • Project duration: 2 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $2,000 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $732 K
Live Proteomics: Real-Time Measurement of Proteins in Living Cells
Anima Cell Metrology, Inc. (Basking Ridge, N.J.)
 
Develop a technology for identifying proteins from live cells in real-time, to be used in basic science research, drug development, and the search for novel medical treatments.
  • Project duration: 3 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $1,941 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $200 K
Ultrafine Grained Titanium for Near-net Shape Forging - A Pathway to Titanium Market Expansion
ATI Allvac (Monroe, N.C.)
Joint venture partner:
GE Global Research (Niskayuna, N.Y.)
Develop a novel, ultrafine-grained titanium billet fabrication process that will advance U.S. leadership in titanium metals by enabling bulk, near-net-shape forging of titanium alloys into complex components.
  • Project duration: 4 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $3,268 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $3,300 K
Exoskeleton Orthotic Systems for Individuals with Mobility Disorder
Berkeley Bionics (Berkeley, Calif.)
 
Develop a set of technologies that will enable smart, powered, exoskeleton orthotic systems for individuals with limited mobility due to neurological or muscular disorders.
  • Project duration: 3 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $2,000 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $600 K
High-Throughput Platform for Targeted Nanoparticle Engineering
BIND Biosciences, Inc. (Cambridge, Mass.)
 
Develop a high-throughput combinatorial platform for nanoparticle engineering that enables the fabrication, screening and optimization of targeted polymeric nanoparticles for drug delivery.
  • Project duration: 3 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $2,000 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $1,852 K
$100 Genome by Linear Imaging Sequence Analysis
BioNanomatrix, LLC (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Joint venture partner:
Complete Genomics, Inc. (Sunnyvale, Calif.)
Combine a novel gene sequencing chemistry with an advanced nanofluidic device suitable for mass production to develop a platform technology that can sequence an entire human genome in under eight hours at a cost of less than $100.
  • Project duration: 5 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $8,789 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $8,967 K
Platforms for Producing Biocontained High-Value Products in Hybrid Seed Crops
Caisson Laboratories, Inc. (North Logan, Utah)
 
Develop a suite of biotechnology tools to redirect the biosynthetic processes in seeds to enable large-scale production of seed-based biofuel feedstocks and other biomaterials for the industrial and pharmaceutical sectors while preventing the genetically modified traits from being transferred to other plants.
  • Project duration: 3 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $2,000 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $495 K
Integrated Surface Technologies for 21st Century Drivetrain
Caterpillar Inc. (Mossville, Ill.)
Joint venture partner:
The Lubrizol Corporation (Wickliffe, Ohio)
Develop technologies for a new generation of drivetrain systems in order to help off-highway machines to comply with stricter emissions standards.
  • Project duration: 4 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $4,951 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $4,951 K
Synthesis of Difficult Genes: Automation with Microfluidics
Codon Devices, Inc. (Cambridge, Mass.)
 
Develop an integrated microfluidics platform to significantly reduce the cost and complexity of building long, complex DNA fragments using ligation assembly.
  • Project duration: 3 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $1,581 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $470 K
Pultrusion Technology Development for Chemically Bonded Ceramic Materials
Composite Support & Solutions, Inc. (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.)
 
Develop technology for a new class of inorganic materials, an innovative manufacturing technology that could produce high-performance, fire-resistant construction components at affordable cost.
  • Project duration: 3 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $1,994 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $519 K
Efficient Deep Ultra Violet Light Emitting Diodes
Crystal IS, Inc. (Green Island, N.Y.)
 
Develop novel materials, processing techniques and designs to produce high-efficiency LEDs that operate in the deep ultraviolet.
  • Project duration: 3 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $2,000 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $2,400 K
Terapics (Terabit Photonic Integrated Circuits)
Cyoptics, Inc. (Breinigsville, Pa.)
Joint venture partner:
Kotura, Inc. (Monterey Park, Calif.)
Develop technology for optical components that can transmit and receive up to one terabit of data per second over one single-mode fiber, greatly reducing complexity and cost in high-capacity fiber-optic networks.
  • Project duration: 3 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $5,987 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $6,686 K
Semiconductor Nano-Scale Cleaning Using Electrohydrodynamics (EHD)
EHD Technology Group, Inc. (Duarte, Calif.)
 
Develop an electrostatic nanodroplet generation and control process that optimizes cleaning efficiencies on advanced semiconductor wafers, where manufacturing process debris is too small to be removed by conventional means.
  • Project duration: 2.5 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $1,956 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $581 K
Printable Electronic Nanotube Inks and Concentrates (PENTIAC)
Eikos Inc. (Franklin, Mass.)
 
Develop a new class of electrically conducting materials based on carbon nanotubes, for printing electric circuits, inks, and other products.
  • Project duration: 2 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $1,359 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $548 K
High Definition Metrology and Process-2 Micron Manufacturing
Engineering and Manufacturing Alliance (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
Joint venture partners:
Ford Motor Company (Dearborn, Mich.)
General Motors Corporation (Detroit, Mich.)
Chrysler Corporation (Auburn Hills, Mich.)
Roush Enterprises, Inc. (Livonia, Mich.)
Coherix, Inc. (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
Develop High Definition Metrology (HDM) technology that will enable factory floor machining tolerances within one micron.
  • Project duration: 3 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $4,956 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $7,051 K
Forward Looking 3D Sonar System for Navigation and Collision Avoidance for Long Range and High Speed Applications
FarSounder, Inc. (Warwick, R.I.)
 
Develop a new generation of navigation and collision-avoidance sonar to improve the efficiency and safety of marine cargo transport.
  • Project duration: 2.75 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $2,000 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $400 K
Wireless Power Transfer
Ferro Solutions, Inc. (Cambridge, Mass.)
 
Develop an efficient, wireless power transfer system with new thin-film deposition techniques and millimeter- and micron-scale designs for tiny, implantable power receivers to be used in a range of new and improved therapeutic electrostimulation devices.
  • Project duration: 3 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $1,989 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $1,029 K
Nanoengineered, Superhydrophobic Surfaces for Steam Turbines and Condensers
General Electric Company (Niskayuna, N.Y.)
 
Develop a robust nanotech manufacturing infrastructure for the design and processing of nanomaterials to produce extremely water-repellent surfaces for use in harsh industrial environments.
  • Project duration: 3 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $1,905 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $2,857 K
Developing STT-RAM as a Scalable High Density Universal Memory with High Speed and Low Power
Grandis, Inc. (Milpitas, Calif.)
 
Develop spin-transfer torque-based random access memory (STT-RAM) with enhanced performance and lower cost for use as a scalable, non-volatile universal memory solution with low power consumption for both the embedded and stand-alone memory markets.
  • Project duration: 3 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $2,000 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $1,808 K
High-Efficiency, Deep-UV Light-Emitting Diodes
HexaTech, Inc. (Morrisville, N.C.)
 
Develop a deep ultraviolet light emitting diode (LED) as a UV light source for treating drinking and waste water.
  • Project duration: 3 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $1,994 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $1,196 K
Novel Hollow Metal Alloy Proppants for Improved Oil Extraction
Deep Springs Technology, Inc. (Toledo, Ohio)
 
Develop novel materials for use as reservoir rock proppants in the oil and gas industry, with improved properties that will allow increased oil and gas recoveries from wells.
  • Project duration: 3 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $1,983 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $556 K
Automated Pathogen Tracking System
ISCA Technologies, Inc. (Riverside, Calif.)
 
Develop a nano-electronic sensor to provide autonomous, rapid, sensitive, selective and reliable detection of multiple viruses simultaneously for environmental monitoring, homeland security, health care, and food safety applications.
  • Project duration: 3 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $2,000 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $683 K
Transparent, Flexible Solar Modules Based on Bulk-Heterojunction Photovoltaic Technology
Konarka Technologies, Inc. (Lowell, Mass.)
Joint venture partner:
Air Products and Chemicals (Allentown, Pa.)
Develop high-performance, transparent photovoltaic cells and modules that will help establish solar technology as a vital part of the renewable energy industry.
  • Project duration: 5 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $4,730 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $4,923 K
High Efficiency Thin Film Photovoltaics Through Precision Nanopatterning
Liquidia Technologies, Inc. (Morrisville, N.C.)
 
Exploit recent breakthroughs in nano-molding techniques to develop a high-volume manufacturing process for fabricating high-efficiency, cost-effective thin film solar cells.
  • Project duration: 3 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $1,934 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $773 K
Context-Based Machine Translation: A Disruptive Technology for Very High Quality Automated Translation
Meaningful Machines (New York, N.Y.)
 
Develop an efficient and practical technology, using novel algorithms, for high-quality, context-based machine translation between languages.
  • Project duration: 2 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $2,000 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $927 K
Development of Robust Fuel Flexible Desulfurization Systems for Clean Power Solutions
MesoFuel, Inc. (Albuquerque, N.M.)
 
Develop a suite of technologies for compact, efficient and scalable desulfurization of a wide range of petroleum-based fuels at the point of use.
  • Project duration: 3 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $2,000 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $3,803 K
Integrated Bio-Engineered Chemicals
Metabolix, Inc (Cambridge, Mass.)
 
Develop a commercially viable process for producing widely used organic chemical feedstocks from renewable agricultural products rather than from traditional fossil-based hydrocarbons.
  • Project duration: 2 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $1,996 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $2,758 K
Michelin Energy Efficient Non-Pneumatic Tire and Wheel (Tweel™ Assembly)
Michelin Americas Research & Development Corp. (Greenville, S.C.)
 
Accelerate the development of Tweel™ assemblies, a tire and wheel replacement technology, with a goal of improving fuel economy, reducing carbon dioxide emissions, and improving vehicle performance and passenger safety in passenger and heavy truck tire applications.
  • Project duration: 3 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $2,000 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $4,804 K
High Yield Manufacture of Fullerenes and Carbon Nanotubes
Nano-C, Inc. (Westwood, Mass.)
 
Develop a novel manufacturing process for nanostructured carbon materials such as fullerenes and single-walled carbon nanotubes to dramatically increase yields and reduce costs, enabling wider application of these unique materials.
  • Project duration: 3 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $1,986 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $897 K
Direct Imprinting of Nanostructures in Solids to Revolutionize Micro/Nano Manufacturing
Nanonex Corporation (Monmouth Junction, N.J.)
 
Develop a laser-based, melt-and-stamp manufacturing technology that can directly imprint nanoscale patterns on a hard surface, replacing complex and costly lithographic and chemical polishing processes for a wide range of semiconductor manufacturing tasks.
  • Project duration: 3 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $2,000 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $864 K
NanoCable Project
NanoRidge Materials Inc. (Houston, Texas)
Joint venture partner:
The Boeing Company (Huntington Beach, Calif.)
Develop a lightweight, electrical wire-and-cable system that can reduce fuel costs and improve energy efficiency in numerous applications including aerospace.
  • Project duration: 3 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $2,850 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $2,924 K
Advanced Neuromodulation Technology for Neurological Disorders
NeuroPace, Inc. (Mountain View, Calif.)
 
Develop a closed-loop, implantable neurostimulation system that responds to neurophysiological signals, for the treatment of serious neurological and psychiatric disorders, including Parkinson's disease and major depressive disorders.
  • Project duration: 3 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $2,000 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $247 K
Integrated Shielding for Radiation Therapy
Orbital Therapy Inc. (Framingham, Mass.)
 
Develop a radical new design for radiation therapy machines used to treat breast cancer allowing for better control of patient doses, less unwanted dose to healthy organs and lower-cost, more portable installations.
  • Project duration: 2 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $1,981 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $396 K
Diversified Repertoire of Human Antibodies from Transgenic Chickens
Origen Therapeutics, Inc. (Burlingame, Calif.)
 
Create a new method for making antibodies to treat human disease by inserting complex genetic modifications into the chicken genome.
  • Project duration: 3 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $2,000 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $1,136 K
High-Efficiency Industrial Mixing Through Biomimetic Design
PAX Scientific, Inc. (San Rafael, Calif.)
 
Develop significantly improved designs for industrial mixing equipment through an energy-minimizing design approach based on biomimetics, the emulation of energy-efficient forms found in nature.
  • Project duration: 3 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $1,900 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $792 K
Semiconductor Nanocrystal Based R-CEL
Pixelligent Technologies LLC (College Park, Md.)
 
Develop a unique, reversible, photo-bleachable material for double patterning of wafers that could enable a new generation of photolithography for the semiconductor industry.
  • Project duration: 2 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $2,000 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $400 K
Ultra-Low Methanol Crossover Membranes for Higher Energy Density Direct Methanol Fuel Cells
PolyFuel Inc. (Mountain View, Calif.)
 
Develop an ultra-low methanol crossover membrane leading to a 30-40 percent improvement in system-level energy density in direct methanol fuel cells (DMFCs).
  • Project duration: 2 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $1,998 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $1,600 K
Low Cost High Performance Technology for Point-of-Care Diagnostics
Precision Photonics Corporation (Boulder, Colo.)
 
Develop low-cost technology to enable a new generation of point-of-care diagnostic systems to help manage HIV-infected patients in the developing world.
  • Project duration: 2 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $2,000 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $406 K
Efficient, Environmentally Friendly, Nanocrystal-Based LED Technology for Solid-State Lighting
QD Vision, Inc. (Watertown, Mass.)
 
Demonstrate an environmentally friendly nanocrystal LED technology for white-light-emitting devices with high power efficiency and tunable color using solution processing on flexible substrates.
  • Project duration: 2 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $1,973 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $1,463 K
Development of a Super-Stiff, Vibration-Free Machine Tool
Rockford Engineering Associates, LLC (Rockford, Ill.)
 
Develop a super-stiff, vibration-free milling machine to cut high-temperature alloys such as titanium and advanced technical ceramics such as aluminum oxide.
  • Project duration: 3 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $2,000 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $333 K
Novel RGB Phosphors for Solid State Lighting
Sarnoff Corporation (Princeton, N.J.)
 
Develop a novel set of red, green and blue phosphors specifically designed to work with near-ultraviolet light-emitting diodes to enable high-efficiency LED lamps that rival incandescent bulbs for color quality and light intensity while using about a tenth the power.
  • Project duration: 2 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $1,642 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $2,991 K
Open Computational Infrastructure for Surgical Skill Development and Assessment
SimQuest LLC (Silver Spring, Md.)
 
Develop a novel combination of physics-based solutions, cost-effective hardware interfaces, open data standards, and teaching scenarios created by surgeon educators to create a prototype simulation-based training system for open surgery.
  • Project duration: 3 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $2,000 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $761 K
Novel Digital Planarization Process for 300/450 mm Wafer Semiconductor Manufacturing
Sinmat Inc. (Gainesville, Fla.)
 
Develop a novel chemical mechanical planarization (CMP) process for the semiconductor industry that offers better control in the processing of new copper/ultra-low-k dielectric interconnects in integrated circuit chips.
  • Project duration: 3 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $1,973 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $598 K
Biopetroleum: A Renewable, Fully-Equivalent Replacement for Light Sweet Crude Oil
Solazyme, Inc. (South San Francisco, Calif.)
 
Develop a biopetroleum, derived from marine microorganisms, that matches the composition of "light sweet" crude oil, and so is fully compatible with the existing petroleum industry infrastructure.
  • Project duration: 2 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $1,999 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $705 K
Flat Panel X-Ray Sources
Stellar Micro Device, Inc. (Austin, Texas)
 
Develop a flat panel X-ray source (FXPS) of up to a square meter in size, allowing continuous X-ray emission for sterilization of medical products, mail and food; and the digital addressing of X-ray pixels to enable improved and new medical imaging modalities.
  • Project duration: 2 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $1,989 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $432 K
Continuous Hexane-free Biodiesel Production
Thar Technologies, Inc. (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
 
Develop and demonstrate continuous processing technology for environmentally friendly and cost-effective production of diesel-grade biofuel from plants.
  • Project duration: 3 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $1,944 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $464 K
Nanoscale Subsurface Metrology (NSM)
Veeco Instruments Inc. (Woodbury, N.Y.)
 
Develop a platform based on atomic force microscopy and ultrasonic microscopy to enable high-speed, non-destructive subsurface measurements of three-dimensional nanostructures in electronic device structures and nanomaterials with nanometer scale resolution.
  • Project duration: 3 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $1,999 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $3,532 K
Dual-Action Therapies for Bone Disease
Velcura Therapeutics, Inc. (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
 
Create a new therapeutic molecule for osteoporosis and other bone diseases that both inhibits loss of bone and stimulates regrowth of bone tissue.
  • Project duration: 3 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $2,000 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $1,300 K
Development of 1200 Volt, 100 Amp GaN on Silicon Transistors for Automotive Applications
Velox Semiconductor Corporation, Inc. (Somerset, N.J.)
 
Develop high-voltage, high-current electronic components for further increasing the fuel efficiency of hybrid vehicles.
  • Project duration: 2 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $1,964 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $1,316 K
Catalytic Biomass Depolymerization - A Novel Approach to Platform Intermediates for Biorefineries
Virent Energy Systems Inc. (Madison, Wis.)
 
Develop a novel catalytic depolymerization process that can continuously and cost-effectively convert biomass into intermediate materials for use in refining biofuels and chemicals.
  • Project duration: 2 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $1,998 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $715 K
Integrated Biosensors for Diagnostic Development
Virogenomics, Inc. (Tigard, Ore.)
 
Develop a Sensor System on Panel (SSOP) that tests for many different biological markers in a single assay, to enable revolutionary research on and the diagnosis of multifactorial conditions such as autoimmune diseases and allergies.
  • Project duration: 3 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $1,997 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $236 K
X-Ray Scatterometer for Critical Dimensional Metrology
Xradia, Inc. (Concord, Calif.)
 
Develop an innovative x-ray scattering tool to enable high throughput metrology for semiconductor manufacturing at 32 nanometers and below.
  • Project duration: 2 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $2,000 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $750 K
Ultrahigh Rate Fabrication of Thin Film Silicon Solar Cells Using Roll-to-Roll Hybrid CVD Technologies with RTSE Monitoring and Control
Xunlight Corporation (Toledo, Ohio)
 
Develop a novel hybrid chemical vapor deposition (H-CVD) process for the roll-to-roll fabrication of high-efficiency thin film silicon solar cells at ultrahigh rates up to 100 angstroms per second.
  • Project duration: 3 years
  • Projected ATP funding: $1,991 K
  • Projected industry cost-share: $956 K

 

Media Contact: Michael Baum, michael.baum@nist.gov, (301) 975-2763

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NIST Debuts Superconducting Quantum Computing Cable

Artist's rendition of the NIST superconducting quantum computing cable

Artist's rendition of the NIST superconducting quantum computing cable.

Illustration by:Michael Kemper

View hi-resolution version

Physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have transferred information between two “artificial atoms” by way of electronic vibrations on a microfabricated aluminum cable, demonstrating a new component for potential ultra-powerful quantum computers of the future. The setup resembles a miniature version of a cable-television transmission line, but with some powerful added features, including superconducting circuits with zero electrical resistance, and multi-tasking data bits that obey the unusual rules of quantum physics.

The resonant cable might someday be used in quantum computers, which would rely on quantum behavior to carry out certain functions, such as code-breaking and database searches, exponentially faster than today’s most powerful computers. Moreover, the superconducting components in the NIST demonstration offer the possibility of being easier to manufacture and scale up to a practical size than many competing candidates, such as individual atoms, for storing and transporting data in quantum computers.

Unlike traditional electronic devices, which store information in the form of digital bits that each possess a value of either 0 or 1, each superconducting circuit acts as a quantum bit, or qubit, which can hold values of 0 and 1 at the same time. Qubits in this “superposition” of both values may allow many more calculations to be performed simultaneously than is possible with traditional digital bits, offering the possibility of faster and more powerful computing devices. The resonant section of cable shuttling the information between the two superconducting circuits is known to engineers as a “quantum bus,” and it could transport data between two or more qubits.

The NIST work is featured on the cover of the Sept. 27 issue of Nature*. The scientists encoded information in one qubit, transferred this information as microwave energy to the resonant section of cable for a short storage time of 10 nanoseconds, and then successfully shuttled the information to a second qubit. For more details, see Digital Cable Goes Quantum: NIST Debuts Superconducting Quantum Computing Cable.

* M.A. Sillanpää, J.I. Park and R.W. Simmonds. Coherent quantum state storage and transfer between two phase qubits via a resonant cavity. Nature, Sept. 27, 2007.

Media Contact: Laura Ost, laura.ost@nist.gov, (303) 497-4880

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Measurements from the Edge: Magnetic Properties of Thin Films

spectroscopic image
Spectroscopic image showing the microwave-frequency magnetic resonances of an array of parallel, metallic thin film nanowires ("stripes"). The peak in the center is due to resonances occurring at the stripe edges while the strong horizontal bar is due to resonances in the body of the stripes.
Credit: Brian Maranville, NIST
View hi-resolution image

Materials researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), together with colleagues from IBM and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have pushed the measurement of thin films to the edge—literally—to produce the first data on how the edges of metallic thin films contribute to their magnetic properties. Their results may impact the design of future nanoscale electronics.

Ferromagnetic thin films of metallic materials—ranging in thickness from fractions of a nanometer to several micrometers—are layered in patterns on a substrate (such as silicon) during the manufacture of many microelectronic devices that use magnetic properties, such as computer hard drives.

While methods for measuring the magnetic properties of ferromagnetic thin films have existed for some time, there currently is no way to define those properties for the edges of the film. On a relatively large-scale device, this doesn’t matter much. However, as microelectronic components get smaller and smaller, the edge becomes a bigger and bigger fraction of the surface, eventually becoming the thin film’s dominant surface and the driver of its magnetic character. (Shrink a disk by half and the top surface area is reduced by a factor of four while the length of the edge is only halved.)

A research team from NIST, IBM and MIT recently demonstrated a spectroscopic technique for measuring the magnetic properties of the edges of nickel-iron alloy thin films patterned in an array of parallel nanowires (called “stripes”) atop a silicon disk. The researchers beamed microwaves of different frequencies over the stripes and measured the magnetic resonances that resulted. Because a thin film’s edge resonates differently from its center, the researchers were able to determine which data—and subsequently, which magnetic behaviors—were attributable to the edge.

In its first trials, the new technique has been used to measure how the magnetic properties of the thin film edge are affected by the thickness of the film and the processing conditions during the stripe patterning. Data gained from the study of stripes with widths of 250 to 1,000 nanometers will be used to predict the behavior of similar structures at the nanoscale level (100 nanometers or less).

Media Contact: Michael E. Newman, michael.newman@nist.gov, 301-975-3025

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‘Dead Time’ Limits Quantum Cryptography Speeds

Quantum cryptography is potentially the most secure method of sending encrypted information, but does it have a speed limit? According to a new paper* by researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI), technological and security issues will stall maximum transmission rates at levels comparable to that of a single broadband connection, such as a cable modem, unless researchers reduce “dead times” in the detectors that receive quantum-encrypted messages. The JQI is a research partnership that includes NIST and the University of Maryland.

In quantum cryptography, a sender, usually designated Alice, transmits single photons, or particles of light, encoding 0s and 1s to a recipient, “Bob.” The photons Bob receives and correctly measures make up the secret “key” that is used to decode a subsequent message. Because of the quantum rules, an eavesdropper, “Eve,” cannot listen in on the key transmission without being detected, but she could monitor a more traditional communication (such as a phone call) that must take place between Alice and Bob to complete their communication.

Modern telecommunications hardware easily allows Alice to transmit photons at rates much faster than any Internet connection. But at least 90 percent (and more commonly 99.9 percent) of the photons do not make it to Bob’s detectors, so that he receives only a small fraction of the photons sent by Alice. Alice can send more photons to Bob by cranking up the speed of her transmitter, but then, they’ll run into problems with the detector’s “dead time,” the period during which the detector needs to recover after it detects a photon. Commercially available single-photon detectors need about 50-100 nanoseconds to recover before they can detect another photon, much slower than the 1 nanosecond between photons in a 1-Ghz transmission.

Not only does dead time limit the transmission rate of a message, but it also raises security issues for systems that use different detectors for 0s and 1s. In that important “phone call,” Bob must report the time of each detection event. If he reports two detections occurring within the dead time of his detectors, then Eve can deduce that they could not have come from the same detector and correspond to opposite bit values.

Sure, Bob can choose not to report the second, closely spaced photon, but this further decreases the key production rate. And for the most secure type of encryption, known as a one-time pad, the key has to have as many bits of information as the message itself.

The speed limit would go up, says NIST physicist Joshua Bienfang, if researchers reduce the dead time in single-photon detectors, something that several groups are trying to do. According to Bienfang, higher speeds also would be useful for wireless cryptography between a ground station and a satellite in low-Earth orbit. Since the two only would be close enough to communicate for a small part of the day, it would be beneficial to send as much information as possible during a short time window.

* D.J. Rogers, J.C. Bienfang, A. Nakassis, H. Xu and C.W. Clark, Detector dead-time effects and paralyzability in high-speed quantum key distribution, New Journal of Physics (September 2007); available at www.iop.org/EJ/abstract/-kwd=nj-2f2/1367-2630/9/9/319.

Media Contact: Ben Stein, bstein@nist.gov, 301-975-3097

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High-Speed Quantum Key System Wins Research Award

A high-speed quantum cryptography system that allows “Alice” and “Bob” to discuss things in absolute secrecy earned a 2007 R&D 100 Award for a team of researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

high-speed QKD
NIST's high-speed fiber quantum key distribution (QKD) system has been cited as one of the “100 most technologically significant” developments last year.
Credit: NIST
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The R&D 100 Awards* are made annually by the editors of R&D Magazine to recognize “the 100 most technologically significant products” introduced in the past year.

The award-winning “High-Speed Fiber Quantum Key Distribution System” uses lasers to generate individual photons that are transmitted down a fiber-optic communications line. The sender, notionally “Alice,” can send an unbreakable message encryption key to the receiver, “Bob,” encoded in the polarization directions of individual photons. The rules of quantum mechanics say that the polarization of any individual photon cannot be measured or “read” without destroying the photon, so no potential eavesdropper can intercept the transmission from Alice to Bob without being detected.

Of course, it’s harder than that.

Practical high-speed quantum key distribution (QKD) systems have to contend with physical realities. Photons get lost, absorbed or reflected by the transmission system, so a working system has to be able to account for the lost ones and keep Alice and Bob in sync. The installed base of fiber-optic communications equipment does not work at the best frequencies for sensitive photon detectors, but it is the installed base, so a practical system has to work with that as well. And the system should be fast enough to handle modern communications requirements, such as streaming video or lots of high-speed messages.

The NIST system relies on high-efficiency, low noise detectors that use a clever frequency conversion device to get optimum performance from both the photon detectors and the optical fiber in between. The research team has demonstrated their ability to generate and transmit secure keys at a rate of over half a million bits per second over 10 km of optical fiber—fast enough to encrypt streaming digital video using a theoretically unbreakable one-time-pad encryption in real time. The group also has transmitted secure keys at rates near 10 kilobits per second at five times that distance. See New Quantum Key System Combines Speed, Distance.

For more details of NIST’s up-conversion QKD system, see Quantum Information Networks, and to learn more about NIST’s broader work in quantum computing and quantum encryption, see Quantum Information Research at NIST: Goals and Vision.

* See www.rdmag.com/
Item edited September 28, 2007 to update link to Quantum Information Networks.

Media Contact: Michael Baum, michael.baum@nist.gov, 301-975-2763

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NIST Helps Plan Measurement Standards for the Hydrogen Economy

How do you conveniently measure something that not only is 14 times lighter than air but also invisible? That’s just one of the tasks National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Weights and Measures Division staff have taken on to prepare the nation for the hydrogen economy.

Under an interagency agreement signed last month, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) asked NIST to intensify efforts to develop the standards, test procedures and test methods needed to buy and sell hydrogen in the marketplace as easily as we now deal in gasoline. To plan for the effort, NIST and DOE are sponsoring a U.S. National Work Group for the Development of Hydrogen Measurement Standards meeting, October 3-4 in Gaithersburg, Md. Participants will include regulatory officials, equipment manufacturers and representatives from alternative fuel organizations and laboratories working on hydrogen refueling measurement.

NIST’s work supports President Bush’s Hydrogen Fuel Initiative that aims to reverse the nation’s growing dependence on foreign oil by developing the technology needed for commercially viable, hydrogen-powered fuel cells. Accurate measurements and performance standards are critical to U.S. development and implementation of the new technology. Virtually every stage of hydrogen production, distribution and sales requires new measurement tests and methodologies to establish confidence in the transactions.

The participants in the Gaithersburg meeting will lay a foundation to develop a comprehensive set of commercial hydrogen measurement standards that encompasses: gaseous and liquid measuring devices and related equipment codes; method of sale, marking and labeling requirements, fuel quality standards, sampling procedures, inspection procedures, equipment suitability and safety practices. Participants will work to ensure there is harmonization between related national and international standards. They will also discuss hydrogen measurement training for officials and service companies as well as consumer education of the public on hydrogen measurement.

NIST will issue a report on the meeting in November. NIST’s DOE-sponsored hydrogen standards work complements American Competitiveness Initiative support for NIST’s work on hydrogen standards over the next five years.

Media Contact: John Blair, inquiries@nist.gov, 301-975-4261

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Experts to Review Life-Saving Homeland Security Standards

The terrorist threat to the global transportation system, private-sector implementation of the preparedness provisions of the 9/11 Commission recommendations and a review of standards-based security programs in the United States will be among the topics considered at two upcoming workshops at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The sixth plenary session of the American National Standards Institute Homeland Security Standards Panel (ANSI-HSSP) will be held on October 3-4, and a World Standards Cooperation (WSC) Workshop on Transit Security on October 4-5, both at the NIST facility in Gaithersburg, Md.

The meetings, open to registrants of either assembly, offer attendees the opportunity to examine current issues and challenges, discuss recent successes and forge connections for future connections for future collaborations on matters critical to global and national security.

The first day of the ANSI plenary will feature panel sessions highlighting the development of interoperability standards for homeland security, potential chemical, biological, explosive and communication threats, standards for preparedness, risk, response and recovery, as well as international and national security standard initiatives. The second day will unite plenary participants with WSC workshop attendees to discuss issues related to transit security, such as the strategic role for international standards and conformity assessment programs in the area of urban, suburban and regional commuter transportation by bus, rail and the land side of urban ferry operations.

For further details, contact Matt Deane, Director, Homeland Security Standards, ANSI, (mdeane@ansi.org, 212-642-4992).

For a full listing of speakers and register for the ANSI HSSP, see www.ansi.org/standards_activities/standards_boards_panels/hssp/overview.aspx?menuid=3. For information on the WSC event, see www.ansi.org/meetings_events/events/wsc_07.aspx?menuid=8.

Media Contact: John Blair, inquiries@nist.gov, 301-975-4261

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Fourteen Prepare for Baldrige Site Visits

Starting in mid-October, teams of business, education, health care and nonprofit experts will visit 14 organizations as the final review stage for the 2007 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s highest recognition for excellence. The organizations selected for site visits include two in the small business category, seven in health care, one in education, and four nonprofits. There were no organizations chosen for site visits in two categories, service and manufacturing.

This is the first year that nonprofits are eligible for the Baldrige Award.

The Baldrige program received 84 applications in 2007 (seven small business, four service, two manufacturing, 42 health care, 16 education and 13 nonprofit). The applicants were evaluated rigorously by an independent board of examiners in seven areas: leadership; strategic planning; customer and market focus; measurement, analysis and knowledge management; workforce focus; process management; and results. Each applicant will receive a wealth of feedback detailing their most important strengths and opportunities for improvement.

The 2007 award recipients are expected to be announced in late November.

Named after Malcolm Baldrige, the 26th Secretary of Commerce, the Baldrige Award was established by Congress in 1987. The award promotes excellence in organizational performance, recognizes the achievements and results of U.S. organizations, and publicizes successful performance strategies. The award is not given for specific products or services. Since 1988, 67 organizations have received Baldrige Awards.

For more information on the Baldrige National Quality Program, see http://baldrige.nist.gov.

Media Contact: Michael E. Newman, michael.newman@nist.gov, 301-975-3025

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