Method Identifies, Counts Toxic Molecules
technique that offers advances in detection of toxic chemicals
and counting of molecules has been demonstrated by a National
Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) scientist and
collaborators. Described in the Feb. 8 issue of the Journal
of Chemical Physics, the NIST-patented technique may be useful
for development of miniaturized chemical sensors, as well
as for fundamental surface science studies.
(a variation on cavity ring-down spectroscopy) relies on
laser light reflecting and circulating inside a prism-like
optical resonator. The time it takes the light to diminish
(or ring down) changes depending on whether specific chemicals
are present near the resonator and on how much light they
absorb. This information can be used to identify and quantify
can detect small amounts (100 parts per million) of trichloroethylene,
a toxic commercial solvent
prevalent but difficult to locate in the environment. The
is equivalent to the best of other published optical methods
that could be used outside a laboratory. A highly selective
coating is expected to enhance performance further.
technique also was used to determine the number of molecules
per unit area on a surface (“absolute coverage”)
without the need for ultrahigh vacuum experimental conditions,
which are typically required for such measurements. Hence,
the new approach enables quantitative studies of real-world
surface processes, such as catalytic reactions. Absolute
coverage measurements are useful in surface science, providing
about surface reactions or structures
for many applications, such as improving solar cell efficiency.
research was performed with collaborators from Eindhoven
University of Technology in the Netherlands and the University
of Maryland; partial funding was provided by the U.S. Department
of Energy, Environmental Management Science Program.
Ost, (301) 975-4034
Sticky Stuff With a ‘Fly’s Eye’
collaboration at the National Institute of Standards and
Technology (NIST) will contend with lots of sticking points—by
design. NIST and industry researchers intend to devise
rapid screening and measurement methods that speed discovery
of new epoxies, pressure-sensitive adhesives and other
products manufactured for the $30 billion global adhesives
a project just getting under way, the partners will refine
and extend miniaturized technologies for simultaneous
of hundreds of systematically varying adhesive formulations.
One test platform is designed for screening new combinations
of components used to make labels, skin patches and other
pressure-sensitive adhesives, a fast-growing segment of
the market. It includes
an array of up to 1,600 “micro lenses,” an arrangement
resembling a fly’s compound eye. In an automated process,
each lens is coated with an incrementally different formulation.
The array is lowered until each lens contacts a wafer-like
substrate coated with a thin film that also can vary in chemical
composition and thickness. The array then is raised until
each lens detaches from the substrate.
of multi-colored dots indicate the strength of
different adhesives measured with the NIST multi-lens
Red areas indicate the stronger bonds, blue areas
measurements of changes in the position of lenses and
other preselected variables, researchers can deduce the
adhesive strength of different formulations under deliberately
conditions. A microscope mounted below the testing platform
monitors the entire process. The resulting color-coded
maps show changes in adhesion energy (an indicator of an
strength) as lens and substrate bond and, then, separate.
system for high-throughput testing of prospective epoxies
and other adhesives for the microelectronics and
also is under development as part of this new collaborative
in the project include Intel and National Starch and Chemical,
an ICI company. Both Intel and ICI
the NIST Combinatorial Methods Center (NCMC) consortium.
For more information, go to http://polymers.msel.nist.gov/combi/index.html
Mark Bello, (301) 975-3776
Offer Tips For Longer Lived CD, DVDs
should never use a pen, pencil or hard-tip marker to write
on your CDs.
is among several recommendations made by computer scientists
at the National Institute of Standards
and Technology (NIST),
who sliced, diced and baked CDs and DVDs to see how long the
digital information would survive.
CDs and DVDs will last 30 years or more if handled with care,
but many factors can
slash their longevity. Direct exposure
to sunlight can do a great deal of damage both from the sun’s
ultraviolet rays and the heat. Indeed, any rapid significant
change in temperature or humidity can stress the materials.
The study also found that fingerprints and smudges frequently
more harm than scratches, and recommends handling discs by
the outer edge or the center hole.
may be cleaned with a cotton cloth by wiping in a straight
line from the center
of the disc toward the outer edge. Isopropyl
alcohol may be used for extra cleaning power.
last longest when stored in plastic cases in a cool, dark,
environment. Because gravity can gradually bend
storing it upright like a book is best for long-term
libraries, archives and government agencies store information
on optical media, and NIST collaborated
on Library and Information Resources to issue the research
quick reference guide to the research group’s findings
is available at
Philip Bulman, (301) 975-5661
Tests Aim to Improve Emergency Communications
of National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
scientists have begun conducting experiments in “laboratories” that
are here one day and gone the next. They are using buildings
set for demolition to measure radio signals with the hope
their work will some day lead to new tools that help emergency
personnel save more people trapped in collapsed buildings.
NIST team was in New Orleans, on hand as demolition experts
were getting ready to raze a high-rise.
to demolition, the NIST team placed specially modified
radio transmitter modules operating in the frequency
used by emergency personnel and mobile telephones at various
points within the soon-to-be-destroyed Fischer Public Housing
Project. The researchers collected information on the transmitters’ signal
strength and other data. They also used Global Positioning
System (GPS) devices to determine the locations and distances
of transmissions from within the building.
demolition, the team found that 10 of the 14 transmitters
researchers hope their work eventually leads to the development
of technology that
allows emergency personnel
to lock on
to cell phone or radio signals within collapsed buildings
in locating and perhaps communicating with survivors.
project was funded by the Department of Justice Office
of Justice Programs’ Community Oriented Policing
Services through NIST’s Office of Law Enforcement
NIST team will follow up its work in New Orleans by conducting
similar experiments with other
Scott Nance, (301) 975-5226
Standard Issued For Improving IT Security
security specialists at the National Institute of Standards
and Technology (NIST) have developed a new standard to
help federal agencies better protect their computer networks.
The standard provides a new way to categorize government
information and information systems.
our government networks remains a critical priority for
this administration,” said U.S. Commerce Secretary
Donald L. Evans. “This
new standard will help agencies better handle security
threats by providing better information and guidance
to federal agencies
so they can make sound decisions.”
standard was developed following passage of the Federal
Security Management Act (FISMA) of 2002. Federal
Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 199, Standards
for the Security Categorization of Federal Information
Information Systems, introduces significant changes in
how the federal
government protects information and the computerized
networks that store information by giving detailed guidance
to categorize systems.
standard includes criteria to be used by civilian agencies
in categorizing information
appropriate levels of security according to a range
of impact levels. Under the standard, agencies will assess
impact on their missions that would result from a security
breach due to loss of confidentiality (unauthorized
of information), integrity (unauthorized modification
of information) or availability (denial of service).
mandatory standard will be a critical component of an
agency’s risk management program. As required
by FISMA, NIST is also developing a companion standard
that will specify
minimum security requirements for all federal systems.
A draft of that material was published by NIST in 2003
public comment. Together, these two standards will
help ensure that appropriate, cost-effective security
measures are put
in place for each federal system. NIST also has a
variety of computer security guidelines that may be used
conjunction with the new standard.
copy of the standard is available at http://csrc.nist.gov.
Bulman, (301) 975-5661
Opens New Competition for R&D Projects
NIST Advanced Technology Program (ATP) has announced a new competition
for cost-sharing awards to support high-risk industrial R&D
projects. The ATP offers funding to single companies or to industry-led
joint ventures to accelerate the development of challenging,
high-risk technologies. R&D projects are selected in a competitive,
The ATP intends to hold only this single
competition this fiscal year, which will close on April 14,
2004. Approximately $30 million
is available for new awards in this competition. Details of
the competition and the announcement of federal funding opportunity
are available at www.atp.nist.gov and www.grants.gov.
will hold seven public meetings (Proposers’ Conferences)
around the country to review general information on the 2004
meetings provide general information regarding the ATP, its project
selection criteria, the selection process, eligibility and cost-sharing
requirements, as well as an opportunity for questions and answers.
is no registration fee, and attendance at these Proposers’ Conferences
is not required. The dates and locations are:
March 1-Atlanta Hilton Hotel, Atlanta, Ga.,
(404) 659-2000 and Hilton Dallas Lincoln Centre, Dallas, Texas, (972) 934-8400
March 3-Hyatt Harborside Hotel, Boston, Mass.,
(617) 568-1234 and Seattle Marriott Waterfront, Seattle,
Wash. (206) 443-5000
March 5-Hyatt Rosemont, Rosemont, Ill. (Chicago)
(847) 518-1234 and Hyatt Regency Los Angeles at Macy's Plaza,