In This Issue...
NSTC Releases Planned Design for Manufacturing Innovation Network
The Administration's National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) has released a report based on the input of nearly 900 stakeholders that describes an approach to implementing and managing a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI)—a proposed national network of up to 15 manufacturing institutes around the country that would serve as regional hubs of innovation to boost U.S. competitiveness and strengthen state and local economies. The NNMI was announced by President Obama last March and is designed to accelerate the development and adoption of cutting-edge manufacturing technologies.
This new report, National Network for Manufacturing Innovation: A Preliminary Design, was developed by the NSTC's Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office (AMNPO), which comprises representatives from federal agencies working to strengthen the U.S. manufacturing sector. It was previewed at a workshop in Huntsville, Ala., where industry, academic, government and other participants had the opportunity to discuss key components, including the framework for the competitive process and the criteria for selecting the Institutes of Manufacturing Innovation (IMI).
The report recommends that each of the IMIs be led by U.S. nonprofit organizations and have diverse funding sources and an independent Board of Directors composed predominantly of industry representatives. IMI partners would include private industry, academic and technical training organizations, government agencies and unions, among others. Federal matching funds for IMIs would be disbursed over a five-to-seven-year period, after which the institutes would be self-sustaining.
The report proposes that the preliminary activities of the IMIs include:
In addition to public input, the report builds on best practices from the August 2012 launch of the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute in Youngstown, Ohio—a pilot institute that has brought together 80 private companies, nine research universities, six community colleges and 18 not-for-profit institutions.
The AMNPO is run by the Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and includes an interagency team that works with the National Science and Technology Council. The AMNPO has participation from federal agencies involved in U.S. manufacturing, including the Departments of Defense, Education and Energy; the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Science Foundation.
For more details, see the Jan. 16, 2013, announcement, "Administration Unveils Initial Design Plans for National Network for Manufacturing Innovation" at www.nist.gov/public_affairs/releases/nnmi-011613.cfm. To read the full NNMI report, please visit: http://manufacturing.gov/docs/NNMI_prelim_design.pdf.
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NIST's 'Nanotubes on a Chip' May Simplify Optical Power Measurements
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has demonstrated a novel chip-scale instrument made of carbon nanotubes that may simplify absolute measurements of laser power, especially the light signals transmitted by optical fibers in telecommunications networks.
The prototype device, a miniature version of an instrument called a cryogenic radiometer, is a silicon chip topped with circular mats of carbon nanotubes standing on end.* The mini-radiometer builds on NIST's previous work using nanotubes, the world's darkest known substance, to make an ultraefficient, highly accurate optical power detector,** and advances NIST's ability to measure laser power delivered through fiber for calibration customers.***
"This is our play for leadership in laser power measurements," project leader John Lehman says. "This is arguably the coolest thing we've done with carbon nanotubes. They're not just black, but they also have the temperature properties needed to make components like electrical heaters truly multifunctional."
NIST and other national metrology institutes around the world measure laser power by tracing it to fundamental electrical units. Radiometers absorb energy from light and convert it to heat. Then the electrical power needed to cause the same temperature increase is measured. NIST researchers found that the mini-radiometer accurately measures both laser power (brought to it by an optical fiber) and the equivalent electrical power within the limitations of the imperfect experimental setup. The tests were performed at a temperature of 3.9 K, using light at the telecom wavelength of 1550 nanometers.
The tiny circular forests of tall, thin nanotubes called VANTAs ("vertically aligned nanotube arrays") have several desirable properties. Most importantly, they uniformly absorb light over a broad range of wavelengths and their electrical resistance depends on temperature. The versatile nanotubes perform three different functions in the radiometer. One VANTA mat serves as both a light absorber and an electrical heater, and a second VANTA mat serves as a thermistor (a component whose electrical resistance varies with temperature). The VANTA mats are grown on the micro-machined silicon chip, an instrument design that is easy to modify and duplicate. In this application, the individual nanotubes are about 10 nanometers in diameter and 150 micrometers long.
By contrast, ordinary cryogenic radiometers use more types of materials and are more difficult to make. They are typically hand assembled using a cavity painted with carbon as the light absorber, an electrical wire as the heater, and a semiconductor as the thermistor. Furthermore, these instruments need to be modeled and characterized extensively to adjust their sensitivity, whereas the equivalent capability in NIST's mini-radiometer is easily patterned in the silicon.
NIST plans to apply for a patent on the chip-scale radiometer. Simple changes such as improved temperature stability are expected to greatly improve device performance. Future research may also address extending the laser power range into the far infrared, and integration of the radiometer into a potential multipurpose "NIST on a chip" device.
* N.A. Tomlin, J.H. Lehman. Carbon nanotube electrical-substitution cryogenic radiometer: initial results. Optics Letters. Vol. 38, No. 2. Jan. 15, 2013.
** See 2010 NIST Tech Beat article, "Extreme Darkness: Carbon Nanotube Forest Covers NIST's Ultra-dark Detector," at www.nist.gov/pml/div686/dark_081710.cfm.
***See 2011 NIST Tech Beat article, "Prototype NIST Device Measures Absolute Optical Power in Fiber at Nanowatt Levels," at www.nist.gov/pml/div686/radiometer-122011.cfm.
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DNA and Quantum Dots: All That Glitters is Not Gold
A team of researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has shown that by bringing gold nanoparticles close to the dots and using a DNA template to control the distances, the intensity of a quantum dot's fluorescence can be predictably increased or decreased.* This breakthrough opens a potential path to using quantum dots as a component in better photodetectors, chemical sensors and nanoscale lasers.
Anyone who has tried to tune a radio knows that moving their hands toward or away from the antenna can improve or ruin the reception. Although the reasons are well understood, controlling this strange effect is difficult, even with hundred-year-old radio technology. Similarly, nanotechnology researchers have been frustrated trying to control the light emitted from quantum dots, which brighten or dim with the proximity of other particles.
The NIST team developed ways to accurately and precisely place different kinds of nanoparticles near each other and to measure the behavior of the resulting nanoscale constructs. Because nanoparticle-based inventions may require multiple types of particles to work together, it is crucial to have reliable methods to assemble them and to understand how they interact.
The researchers looked at two types of nanoparticles, quantum dots, which glow with fluorescent light when illuminated, and gold nanoparticles, which have long been known to enhance the intensity of light around them. The two could work together to make nanoscale sensors built using rectangles of woven DNA strands, formed using a technique called "DNA origami."
These DNA rectangles can be engineered to capture different types of nanoparticles at specific locations with a precision of about one nanometer. Tiny changes in the distance between a quantum dot and a gold nanoparticle near one another on the rectangle cause the quantum dot to glow more or less brightly as it moves away from or toward the gold. Because these small movements can be easily detected by tracking the changes in the quantum dot's brightness, they can be used to reveal, for example, the presence of a particular chemical that is selectively attached to the DNA rectangle. However, getting it to work properly is complicated, says NIST's Alex Liddle.
"A quantum dot is highly sensitive to the distance between it and the gold, as well as the size, number and arrangement of the gold particles," says Liddle, a scientist with the NIST Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology. "These factors can boost its fluorescence, mask it or change how long its glow lasts. We wanted a way to measure these effects, which had never been done before."
Liddle and his colleagues made several groups of DNA rectangles, each with a different configuration of quantum dots and gold particles in a solution. Using a laser as a spotlight, the team was able to follow the movement of individual DNA rectangles in the liquid, and also could detect changes in the fluorescent lifetime of the quantum dots when they were close to gold particles of different sizes. They also showed that they could exactly predict the lifetime of the fluorescence of the quantum dot depending on the size of the nearby gold nanoparticles.
While their tracking technique was time consuming, Liddle says that the strength of their results will enable them to engineer the dots to have a specific desired lifetime. Moreover, the success of their tracking method could lead to better measurement methods.
"Our main goals for the future," he concludes, "are to build better nanoscale sensors using this approach and to develop the metrology necessary to measure their performance."
*S.H. Ko, K. Du and J.A. Liddle.Quantum-dot fluorescence lifetime engineering with DNA origami constructs. Angewandte Chemie (Int. Ed.), 52: 1193–1197. doi: 10.1002/anie.201206253.
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'Live Burns' in Spartanburg, S.C., Will Benefit Research and Firefighter Training
Fire researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and colleagues from fire service organizations will turn abandoned wood-frame, single-family houses near the site of an old Spartanburg, S.C., textile mill into proving and training grounds for new science-driven fire-fighting techniques this week. The objective of the study is to improve firefighter safety and effectiveness.
Experiments conducted in eight different houses will demonstrate fire-fighting methods—individually and in combinations—for strategically ventilating and isolating fires to prevent—or at least delay—flashover, the extremely perilous phenomenon that occurs when heat builds up in a burning structure’s contents and components to the point that they burst into flames simultaneously.
In conjunction with the experiments, the International Society of Fire Service Instructors (IFSI) will videotape how firefighters implement size-up, flowpath control, and exterior fire attack, also known as transitional attack. The IFSI will then develop training modules that will be available to firefighters across the country.
Other collaborators in the field experiments include the International Society of Fire Service Instructors, the South Carolina Fire Academy, the Spartanburg Fire Department, the South Carolina State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Spartanburg Public Safety Office. The project is funded with a DHS/FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant.
In July 2012, in another team effort, NIST fire researchers gathered data in experimental burns in 20 abandoned townhouses on New York’s Governors Island, about a kilometer from the southern tip of Manhattan.
The Spartanburg fire tests are being conducted in an area slated for a major redevelopment initiative.
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Two New MEP Centers Will Serve Kentucky and South Dakota Manufacturers
Small and mid-size manufacturers in Kentucky and South Dakota have new resources to help them create and retain jobs, increase profits, and save time and money, thanks to funding from the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program.
Following a competitive process, NIST MEP has awarded cooperative agreements to support two MEP centers that will join a nationwide network that provides a variety of services, from innovation strategies to process improvements to advice on green manufacturing. The MEP includes more than 400 centers and field offices nationwide.
South Dakota will host its first MEP center in 10 years, with an award of $400,000 to South Dakota Manufacturing and Technology Solutions (manufacturers there previously were served by the North Dakota center). The center will be based at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, and be part of its Small Business Development Center network. South Dakota is home to nearly 1,100 manufacturers, 92 percent of which have fewer than 100 employees, and only eight employ more than 500.
Advantage Kentucky Alliance, Bowling Green, Ky., will receive $488,456 from NIST MEP to operate an MEP center housed at Western Kentucky University Center for Research and Development. The center partners include several Kentucky colleges and universities, along with Kentucky Innovation Network, Kentucky Association of Manufacturers, Kentucky Association for Economic Development, Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. and the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce. More than 1,800 of the state’s manufacturers have fewer than 500 employees.
MEP centers are public-private partnerships that receive a portion of their annual budgets from NIST MEP, and the rest from other nonfederal agencies or organizations. The agreements are for one year, but can be renewed based on performance, priority of the need for the service, legislative authority and availability of funds. NIST will provide 50 percent of the centers’ total funding for the first year, and subsequent renewals will require increasingly larger cost-shares from other sources. Centers that operate for five or more years receive one-third of their annual funding from NIST.
As a public-private partnership, MEP delivers a high return on investment to taxpayers. For every one dollar of federal investment, the MEP generates nearly $20 in new sales growth and $20 in new client investment. This translates into $2.5 billion in new sales annually. For every $2,100 of federal investment, MEP creates or retains one manufacturing job.
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NIST Accepting Proposals for Fundamental Measurement Grants
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is soliciting proposals to support significant research in the field of fundamental measurement or the determination of fundamental constants.
While the fundamental constants such as the speed of light or electron mass are just that—constant—our definitions of them are refined with improvements in measurement science, which is one of the reasons NIST's Precision Measurement Grant Program (PMGP) has provided funding in this area since 1970. The program is designed to encourage basic, measurement-related research in universities, colleges and other research laboratories and to foster contacts between NIST scientists and other researchers and institutions actively engaged in such work. The program counts four Nobel Laureates among its former grantees: Steven Chu, Theodor Hänsch, Daniel Tsui and Carl Wieman.
The PMGP also is intended to allow researchers to pursue new ideas for which other sources of support may be difficult to find. Proposed projects must be consistent with NIST's ongoing work in the field of basic measurement science, but there is some latitude in research topics that will be considered. Visit the Physical Measurement Laboratory Web pages to learn more about NIST's research: http://www.nist.gov/pml/.
NIST anticipates supporting at most two projects, depending on the availability of funding, for up to three years at $50,000 per year.
Proposers must first submit abbreviated proposals, from which NIST will select "finalists" who will be requested to submit a full proposal. Abbreviated proposals must be received by NIST no later than 5 p.m. Eastern Time, on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013. The full proposals must be received by NIST by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday, May 7, 2013.
Both the abbreviated and full proposals will be evaluated on the importance of the proposed research, the relationship of the proposed research to NIST's ongoing work, the feasibility of the research and the potential impact of the project/award, and the qualifications of the proposer. Each of these factors will be given equal weight in the evaluation process.
Eligible proposers are accredited institutions of higher education; hospitals; nonprofit organizations; commercial organizations; state, local and Indian tribal governments; foreign governments; organizations under the jurisdiction of foreign governments; international organizations; and federal agencies with appropriate legal authority.
For full details on the PMGP opportunity, see the full grant announcement at http://www07.grants.gov/search/search.do?&mode=VIEW&oppId=215533.
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NIST Seeks Partners to Establish Graduate Fellowship Programs in Science, Engineering, Math
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is seeking one or more qualified institutions or organizations to work with it in developing and implementing a fellowship program to afford doctoral-level graduate students opportunities to work at NIST laboratories on research topics in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
NIST expects to make from one to three awards under the Graduate Student Measurement Science and Engineering (GMSE) Fellowship Program of approximately $100,000 to $300,000 for up to three years, subject to available funds.
NIST is one of the nation's premiere research institutions for the physical and engineering sciences, with research interests spanning a broad range of disciplines, including nanoscale and quantum level phenomena, materials research, chemical analysis, clinical chemistry, biotechnology, electronics and electrical engineering, manufacturing science, building technology, computer security and information technology, among others. See www.nist.gov for more details on the NIST R&D program.
GMSE participating institutions or organizations will work with NIST under a cooperative agreement to establish fellowship programs that will provide financial support to doctoral-level graduate students to work in collaboration with researchers at NIST laboratories in Gaithersburg, Md.; Charleston, S.C.; or Boulder, Colo. The project will include planning and implementing one or more fellowship programs; forging links between NIST researchers in measurement science, engineering and mathematics with faculty and students at academic institutions; conducting outreach to encourage student participation in the GMSE fellowship program and working with NIST to identify candidate graduate students for the program.
Full details of the program, including eligibility requirements, restrictions, the nature of the anticipated awards, the application process and proposal evaluation criteria have been posted on Grants.gov as Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO) 2013-NIST-GMSE-01, at http://www07.grants.gov/search/search.do?&mode=VIEW&oppId=215973.
Electronic applications must be received no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern time, Friday, February 15, 2013. Paper applications must be received by 5 p.m. Eastern time, Friday, February 15, 2013. Review, selection and award processing is expected to be completed in March 2013. The earliest anticipated start date for awards under this FFO is expected to be May 1, 2013.
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NIST Offers Support for Development of Educational Materials, Courses on Standards
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is offering support to qualified institutions interested in developing teaching materials and curricula that instruct students in the nature, role and importance of technical standards in modern society and commerce. The programs, which are expected to be funded in the range from $25,000 to $100,000 per year for up to two years, could develop either undergraduate or graduate level curricula.
So called "documentary standards," generally developed by industry-based committees, significantly influence industry, commerce and even daily life, but their role is often unrecognized save by those people who are immediately concerned. These standards include technical specifications for classes of products; testing criteria to meet those specifications and other rules or guidelines to ensure proper performance; or compatibility with other products and systems; or to protect public health and safety or the environment. In some cases—such as building codes—documentary standards can have the force of law.
The NIST Standards Services Curricula Development Cooperative Agreement Program will support curriculum development to integrate information on standards and the standardization process into seminars, learning resources and courses. Participating organizations and institutions will work with NIST under cooperative agreements and receive financial support from NIST.
Participants will be expected to develop curriculum for the undergraduate and/or graduate level to educate students about the impact and nature of standards and standardization, develop methods to integrate the material into undergraduate or graduate-level curricula, develop communications plans to share project results with educators and others involved in curriculum development, and disseminate project results to the public.
Full details of the program, including eligibility requirements, restrictions, the nature of the anticipated awards, the application process and proposal evaluation criteria have been posted on Grants.gov as Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO) 2013-NIST-SSCD-01, at http://www07.grants.gov/search/search.do?&mode=VIEW&oppId=215894.
Electronic applications must be received no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern time, Friday, March 15, 2013. Paper applications must be received no later than 5 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday, March 15, 2013. Review, selection and award processing is expected to be completed in April 2013. The earliest anticipated start date for awards under this FFO is expected to be July 1, 2013.
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NIST SBIR Program Soliciting Proposals to Solve Cybersecurity and Manufacturing Challenges
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), through its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, invites small businesses to propose solutions to specific challenges in the fields of cybersecurity and manufacturing.
SBIR Phase I awards provide up to $90,000 over a performance period of seven months and are intended to determine if the proposed research is feasible and how well the awardee performs that research. Phase I awardees are eligible to apply for Phase II funding to further develop their technology.
The NIST 2013 SBIR solicitation names 17 specific technologies for development, including four technology transfer subtopics—inventions and technologies started at NIST that have commercial potential but require more work to be finished products/services for the U.S. marketplace.
In the category of Cybersecurity, the technologies are:
In the category of Manufacturing:
The SBIR program identifies and solicits proposals in subtopics that fall within NIST’s mission and allow collaboration between NIST scientists and the SBIR awardees whenever possible. In order to ensure a greater strategic alignment between the SBIR program and NIST’s laboratory research program, the SBIR topics are based on the investment priorities identified in the NIST Programmatic Plan (see www.nist.gov/director/planning/planning.cfm).
In the interest of competitive fairness, communication with NIST concerning a specific technical topic or subtopic during the open solicitation period is not allowed, with the exception of the public discussion group at www.nist.gov/sbir. All questions and responses will be publicly, though anonymously, posted on the discussion group webite.
Read the 2013 SBIR solicitation (http://go.usa.gov/4Wf5) for a full explanation of the SBIR process, rules and the specific challenges the proposals should address. Unsolicited proposals, i.e. proposals that do not address the challenges outlined in the SBIR proposal solicitation, will not be accepted. The solicitation closes February 25, 2013.
For general information about the NIST SBIR program, call (301) 975-4188 or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
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NIST Biometric Workshop Studies Voice, Dental, Oral Standards
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will host a workshop to discuss proposed supplements to the biometric data format standard that support voice recognition, dental and oral data, disaster victim identification and special data needs for mobile ID applications. The ANSI NIST-ITL Standard Workshop 2013 will meet Jan. 28-30, 2013, at the NIST Gaithersburg, Md., campus.
Biometric data standards specify formats and data necessary to accurately exchange biometric identification information between different agencies and systems. In November 2011, NIST published a revised biometric data transfer standard* that greatly expanded the type and amount of information forensic scientists can share across international networks to identify victims and support criminal investigations. A little more than a year after the 2011 revision, two working groups will be presenting proposed additions to the standard.
A proposed data record developed by one working group for recognizing voices could enable law enforcement agencies to identify, for example, a caller of potential interest by matching their voice sample to voice data collected from prior bookings. The standard data record would note the type of recording equipment used and other details useful in the analysis of the voice recording.
A working group of international dental and forensic experts has developed a draft dental and oral biometric data record that would ease identification of bodies in disasters such as an airplane crash. For instance, if bodies are burned beyond recognition, photographs or fingerprints might not offer practical means of identification; in such instances, forensic analysts turn next to dental and oral information. Developing this standard was challenging due to the variety of ways dentists around the keep dental records, but could offer an interoperable mechanism to exchange such information in the future.
“Oral” measurements and images include attributes such as lip prints and soft palate impressions. Lip prints can sometimes be linked to specific persons and may be found on objects at crime scenes.
The proposed Dental and Oral Supplement would enable the exchange of images and descriptions of pattern injuries on persons, some of which may resemble bite marks, and to allow transmission of imagery such as X-rays and sonograms.
The workshop also will collect information to develop recommended best practices for identifying disaster victims. A panel will discuss the use of various biometric data in identifying victims, including DNA, facial characteristics, tattoos, dental records and fingerprints. This project is in conjunction with the international Scientific Working Group for Disaster Victim Identification (www.swgdvi.org/index.html).
An entire day will be spent considering a special “lighter” data format for mobile ID systems—to reduce the amount of information required and speed up data transmission—for agents or warfighters in the field. For instance, this could facilitate use of a handheld device that would keep one arm free at all times for the data-gatherer’s safety—not requiring data entry on a keyboard.
NIST will also be sharing and requesting comments on its idea to develop a database and tools to facilitate development of automated systems that can be used to identify certain unique objects such as bullets, cartridges, tire tracks, shoe prints and inks.
Registration information for the ANSI/NIST-ITL Standard Workshop 2013 may be found at www.nist.gov/itl/iad/ig/ansi_workshop_2013.cfm. The registration deadline is January 22, 2013.
* See the Dec. 6, 2011, story, “New NIST Biometric Data Standard Adds DNA, Footmarks and Enhanced Fingerprint Descriptions” at www.nist.gov/public_affairs/tech-beat/tb20111206.cfm#biometric. The ANSI/NIST-ITL standard, Data Format for the Interchange of Fingerprint, Facial & Other Biometric Information, is available at www.nist.gov/manuscript-publication-search.cfm?pub_id=910136.
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