Provide New View For Tissue Engineering
physical scientist Joy Dunkers positions a polymer scaffold
sample for imaging.
a high resolution version of this image, contact Gail
the November issue of Optics Express*, National Institute
of Standards and Technology (NIST) scientists describe a novel
combination of microscopes that can peer deep into tissue-engineering
scaffolds and monitor the growth and differentiation of cells
ultimately intended to develop into implantable organs or other
The new dual-imaging tool provides a much needed capability for
the emerging tissue engineering field, which aims to regenerate
form and function in damaged or diseased tissues and organs. Until
now, scrutiny of this complicated, three-dimensional process has
been limited to the top-most layers of the scaffolds used to coax
and sustain cell development.
of biodegradable polymers or other building materials, scaffolds
are seeded with cells that grow, multiply, and assemble into three-dimensional
tissues. Whether the cells respond and organize as intended in
this synthetic environment depends greatly on the composition,
properties, and architecture of the scaffolds’ porous interiors.
Tools for simultaneously monitoring microstructure and cellular
activity can help scientists to tease apart the essentials of
this interactive relationship. In turn, such knowledge can speed
development of tissue-engineered products ranging from skin replacements
to substitute livers to inside-the-body treatments of osteoporosis.
scientist Joy Dunkers and her colleagues paired an optical coherence
microscope—a high-resolution probe of the scaffold interior—with
a confocal fluorescence microscope—used to track cells stained
with a fluorescent dye. The instruments provide simultaneous images
that can be merged to create a comprehensive rendering of microstructure
and cellular activity. By stacking the sectional images, they
can create a top-to-bottom movie showing structural and cellular
details throughout the scaffold’s volume.
*J. P. Dunkers, M. T. Cicerone, and N. R. Washburn,
“Collinear optical coherence and confocal fluorescence microscopies
for tissue engineering,” Optics Express, Vol. 11,
No. 23, pp. 3074-3079. [http://www.opticsexpress.org]
Mark Bello, (301)
Baldrige Award Goes to Seven Organizations
companies, two hospital systems, and one school district were
named by President Bush and Commerce Secretary Evans to receive
the 2003 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s
highest honor for quality and performance excellence. This is
the most Baldrige Award recipients since the program started
in 1988 and the first time that recipients were named in all
five Baldrige Award categories.
The 2003 Baldrige Award recipients are: Medrad, Inc., Indianola,
Pa. (manufacturing); Boeing Aerospace Support, St. Louis, Mo.
(service); Caterpillar Financial Services Corp., Nashville,
Tenn. (service); Stoner Inc., Quarryville, Pa. (small business);
Community Consolidated School District 15, Palatine, Ill. (education);
Baptist Hospital, Inc., Pensacola, Fla. (health care); and Saint
Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City, Kansas City, Mo. (health
program is managed by the National Institute of Standards and
Technology (NIST) in conjunction with the private sector.
recipient organizations were selected from among 68 applicants.
All seven were evaluated by an independent board of examiners
in seven areas: leadership, strategic planning, customer and
market focus, information and analysis, human resource focus,
process management, and results. The six-month evaluation process
included about 1,000 hours of review and an on-site visit by
teams of examiners to clarify questions and verify information
in the applications. The seven organizations are expected to
be presented with the Baldrige Award in a ceremony in Washington,
D.C., early next year.
information, see: www.nist.gov/public_affairs/releases/2003baldrigewinners.htm
Jan Kosko, (301)
Measure Compatibility Of DVD Disks and Drives
next time you try to watch a homemade movie, or access your
files from a recordable DVD on your computer’s DVD drive,
you might be in for an unpleasant surprise. It might not work.
Initial tests conducted by researchers at the National Institute
of Standards and Technology in collaboration with the DVD Association
and the Optical Storage Technology Association show that compatibility
between recordable DVDs and DVD drives is only 85 percent. This
means that if a recording is made on 10 different brands of
DVDs, the odds are that at least one will not work. The problematic
results range from DVDs that do not work at all, suddenly freeze,
or have video or audio “drop out.” Currently, no
drive reads all discs, and no discs are compatible with all
drives. However, newer drives perform significantly better than
first phase of testing included 14 models of DVD-ROM drives,
representing about 60 percent of the installed base in America
as of last year. Each drive was tested with more than 50 different
brands and types of recordable DVD discs.
second phase of testing will include new drives and media, including
those drives that allow consumers to record their own DVDs.
Computer scientists at NIST have developed specialized software
and a comprehensive test plan, which was published in October
as NIST Special Publication 500-254, DVD-ROM Drive Compatibility
results of the test will be made available to manufacturers
to help them improve the compatibility of their products.
Help Requested on Rhode Island Nightclub Fire
a press briefing in Providence, R.I. on Nov. 25, National Institute
of Standards and Technology (NIST) researchers reported solid
progress in the agency's ongoing federal technical investigation
of the Feb. 20, 2003, fire at The Station nightclub in W. Warwick,
R.I. The investigation team leaders also asked the people of Rhode
Island to volunteer information to help the effort continue toward
a successful outcome.
"As our investigation moves into its next stages, NIST needs
individuals and groups to share with us any information that they
have about The Station nightclub, its operations and emergency
procedures, and the events in the building on the night of the
fire," said James E. Hill, acting director of NIST's Building
and Fire Research Laboratory.
investigation is being conducted under the authority of the National
Construction Safety Team (NCST) Act. Under the act, NIST is authorized
to investigate building failures. The NIST investigations will
establish the likely technical causes of the building failure
and evaluate the technical aspects of emergency response and evacuation
procedures in the wake of such failures. The goal is to recommend
improvements to the way in which buildings are designed, constructed,
maintained and used in order to increase both occupant safety
and structural integrity.
announced at the press briefing that it has established a toll-free,
anonymous phone line for persons with information to contact the
Rhode Island investigation team at (877) 451-8001. Individuals
also can provide information by fax at (301) 975-6122; by e-mail
at firstname.lastname@example.org; or by regular mail at NCST Rhode Island Investigation,
NIST, 100 Bureau Dr., Stop 8660, Gaithersburg, Md. 20899-8660.
more details see: www.nist.gov/public_affairs/releases/nightclubfire_release.htm.
Michael E. Newman,
Helps Control Quality of Joint Replacements
radiation isn’t generally thought of as good for you, but
it’s good for artificial hips. A new reference material
from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
will help researchers determine what methods of irradiating the
plastic parts in joint replacements during manufacturing will
best increase their wear resistance.
Reference Material 8457 is intended to help address concerns about
the long-term durability of orthopedic hip implants amid growing
use of these devices in younger, more active patients. It is well
known that radiation can create new chemical bonds between adjacent
molecular chains in a special form of polyethylene used to make
the socket for the metal ball and shaft in an artificial hip.
This “crosslinking” creates a structure that resists
sliding forces and wear. Manufacturers and researchers need to
control radiation conditions to achieve the intended wear resistance;
too much radiation causes brittleness, and too little can result
in poor wear resistance.
NIST material consists of 10 small, identical cubes of polyethylene.
The cubes are intended for use as control samples in a new ASTM
International standard test method. The method involves immersing
cubes in an organic liquid and measuring how much the material
swells. Samples that expand the most have the least amount of
crosslinking. Each reference material comes with a certificate
that provides precise cube dimensions and information about swelling
from a series of round-robin tests involving six laboratories.
The reference material will help researchers and implant manufacturers
control or optimize a variety of processing parameters, such as
the type (gamma radiation or electron beams), timing, and doses
of radiation used for crosslinking.
Laura Ost, (301) 975-4034
Rescue Robots At Arenas Around the Globe
for major strides in robotic search and rescue technology should
advance in December when Italy opens a year-round, robot-testing
arena in Rome. The arena, patterned after one created by the National
Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), simulates conditions
in collapsed buildings. The Rome facility duplicates arenas already
fabricated in the United States and Japan. Two more robot arenas
based on the NIST design are scheduled to open next year in Germany
arenas host “RoboCupRescue,” an international robotic
search and rescue team competition designed to advance robot rescue
capabilities. Researchers also use the arenas to perform robot
experiments and support collaboration between organizations. Like
real collapsed buildings, all the arenas include sections that
range in difficulty from level, uncluttered surfaces to areas
that require stair climbing and navigation among “pancaked”
floors and rubble.
next RoboCupRescue event is scheduled for Lisbon in June, 2004.
Revised competition rules and improved ways to measure robot performance
should increase the relevance of such events for real emergencies.
For example, new limitations on robot-human radio communications
better reflect real disaster conditions in which frequencies are
usually overloaded with emergency communications and structural
debris often interferes with transmission. Multiple sensor identifications
of simulated “victims” also are now encouraged and
false positive identifications, that in real life would jeopardize
rescuers, are penalized. To comply, teams are adding sensors for
body heat and other signs of life (body movement), sound (moaning,
tapping) and carbon dioxide (breathing). Sensors that can detect
human urine and sweat as well as hazards such as gas leaks are
also under development.
these international competitions, both NIST and National Science
Foundation-funded researchers videotape the robots and operator
interfaces to identify “best in class” algorithms,
sensors, and mechanisms. They also gather information from robot
operators to help in continuing to refine robot performance measures.
John Blair, (301) 975-4261
Details Progress On World Trade Center Investigation
from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
who are studying the Sept. 11 collapse of the World Trade Center
buildings have obtained access to all of the essential information
needed for their two-year federal study of the disaster. NIST’s
success in gaining this information from a variety of organizations
and agencies is included in an update report presented on December
2 at the third meeting of the National Construction Safety Team
(NCST) Advisory Committee. This panel of experts advises the NIST
Director on investigations conducted under the NCST Act.
about NIST’s access to the information needed for the WTC
investigation, as well as the status of the investigation's progress
since an interim technical report was issued in May 2003, may
be found in a 41-page document available at http://wtc.nist.gov.
our interim technical report in May, the WTC investigation has
achieved a number of milestones critical to its successful completion
next fall,” according to NIST Director Arden Bement Jr.
“These accomplishments bring us even closer to achieving
the desired outcome or our overall response to the WTC disaster:
improvements in the way people design, construct, maintain and
use buildings, especially high-rise buildings.”
Michael E. Newman,
Act Calls for Major Role for NIST—The "21st
Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act," signed
into law by President Bush on December 3, specifies a major role
for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
The Act requires the director of NIST to "establish a research
program on the development and manufacture of nanotechnology,
including metrology, reliability and quality assurance, processes
control and manufacturing best practices and to utilize the Manufacturing
Extension Partnership to disseminate the results of the program."
For details see: www.house.gov/science.
Technology Workshop—The National Institute of Standards
and Technology will be holding a workshop examining the technical
means for controlling unwanted e-mail known as spam. The workshop,
to be held Feb. 17, 2004, will cover technical topics such as
ways to detect and reduce spam and the technical possibility of
creating “do not spam” lists. More information is
available at http://csrc.nist.gov/spam.
Welding—The 13th International Conference on Computer
Technology in Welding was held in Orlando, Fla., on June 18, 2003.
The conference was sponsored by National Institute of Standards
and Technology (NIST), the American Welding Society, and the Welding
Institute. Topics included modeling, weld data flow, and computers
and automation. Hard copies or CDs of the proceedings are available