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physicist David Wineland adjusts an ultraviolet laser beam
used to manipulate ions in a high-vacuum "ion trap" used
to 'teleport' the quantum state of one atom to another.
Quantum States From One Atom to Another
at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
have demonstrated “teleportation” by transferring
key properties of one atom to another atom without using any
physical link, according to results reported in the June 17
issue of the journal Nature.
the “beaming” of actual physical objects and people
between distant locations popularized in the Star Trek
science fiction series, the term teleportation is how physicists
describe a transfer of “quantum states” between
separate atoms. The quantum state of an atom is a description
of such things as its energy, motion, magnetic field and other
experiments used laser beam manipulations to transfer quantum
states of one beryllium atom to another atom within a set of
microscale traps, with a 78 percent success rate. The technique
may prove useful for transporting information in quantum computers
of the future, which could use central processing elements smaller
than a cube of sugar to carry out massively complex computations
that are currently impossible.
takes place inside an ion trap made of gold electrodes
deposited onto alumina. The trap area is the horizontal
opening near the center of the image.
can be built, quantum computers—harnessing the strange
behavior of particles at the atomic scale—someday might
be used for applications such as code breaking of unprecedented
power, optimizing complex systems such as airline schedules,
much faster database searching and solving of complex mathematical
problems, and even the development of novel products such as
fraud-proof digital signatures.
The NIST work and other research by the University of Innsbruck
reported in the same issue of Nature mark the first
demonstrations of teleportation using atoms. Systems using atoms
are arguably the leading candidate for storing and processing
data in quantum computers. Teleportation could increase computing
speed and efficiency by linking distant zones within a computer.
information see: www.nist.gov/public_affairs/releases/teleportation.htm.
Ost, (301) 975-4034
Drugs Stable Without Refrigeration
spoonful of sugar may help the
medicine go down, but it may take
only a thin coating of freeze-dried sugar to
keep insulin, vaccines and other heat-sensitive, protein-based
drugs working reliably even when stored at room temperature
and above. Widespread availability of stable, room-temperature
therapeutic proteins and vaccines would lower the cost and increase
the convenience of these drugs, and could dramatically improve
distribution in areas of developing nations where refrigeration
may be limited.
New measurements taken by National Institute of Standards and
Technology (NIST) scientists and published in the June edition
of Biophysical Journal show that rapidly solidified
sugars preserve such proteins best when they suppress tiny,
molecular motions lasting a nanosecond or less. NIST scientists
Christopher Soles and Marcus Cicerone used instruments at the
NIST Center for Neutron Research to help them view nanoscale
molecular motions of sugar mixtures that were designed to encase
proteins. They found a striking correlation between sugar mixtures
that provide unusually good protein stabilization and a suppression
of very fast motions in the sugars.
have known for more than a decade that “glassy”
sugars can preserve medicines by encasing the proteins in a
protective coating. The NIST measurements show that tiny molecular
“wiggling” that facilitates protein degradation
occurs at time and length scales smaller than once thought to
matter. They found that diluting sugars that become “glassy”
at a relatively high temperature with the right amount of glycerol
formed a stiffer material, further restricting the protein’s
movement. It's as though the sugar glove is now made of cement
instead of cloth, says Cicerone.
Mechanical 'Tune Up' for Better Measurement
exploiting the weird quantum behavior of atoms, physicists
at the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards
and Technology (NIST) have demonstrated a new technique that
someday could be used to save weeks of measurements needed
to operate ultraprecise atomic clocks. The technique also
could be used to improve the precision of other measurement
processes such as spectroscopy.
described in the June 4 issue of Science, effectively
turns atoms into better frequency sensors. Eventually, the
technique could help scientists measure the ticks of an atomic
clock faster and more accurately. Just as a grandfather clock
uses the regular swings of a pendulum to count off each second
of time, an atomic clock produces billions of ticks per second
by detecting the regular oscillations of atoms. The trick
to producing extremely accurate atomic clocks is to measure
this frequency very precisely for a specific atom.
latest experiment, the scientists used very brief pulses of
ultraviolet light in a NIST-developed technique to put three
beryllium ions (charged atoms) into a special quantum state
called entanglement. In simple terms, entanglement involves
correlating the fates of two or more atoms such that their
behavior—in concert—is very different from the
independent actions of unentangled atoms. One effect is that,
once a measurement is made on one atom, it becomes possible
to predict the result of a measurement on another. When applied
to atoms in an atomic clock, the effect is that n entangled
atoms will tick n times faster than the unentangled atoms.
scientists at NIST and other laboratories make many thousands
of measurements of the ticks of unentangled atoms and average
these results to get highly accurate atomic clocks (currently
keeping time to better than one second in 40 million years).
Ost, (301) 975-4034
Firefighters from Roof Collapses
graphic generated by NIST's Fire Dynamic Simulator software
simulates the penetration of flames into the restaurant's
attic area. The green beams represent wood trusses and the
attic roof has been removed to show a view into the space.
collapses can be especially dangerous to firefighters during building
fires. A new CD-ROM and a DVD, both available free from the National
Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), should help fire
departments improve training to better deal with such hazards.
CD* recreates a one-story Houston, Texas, restaurant fire in 2000,
which cost the lives of two firefighters when a roof collapsed
on them. Two NIST software programs—the
Fire Dynamic Simulation (FDS) and Smokeview programs—were
used to answer questions posed by the National Institute for Occupational
Safety and Health (NIOSH) during its investigation of the incident.
NIST’s FDS physics-based program analyzed the fire’s
temperatures and spread. Smokeview translated the data into
images. The CD simulation portrays the fire’s inception
in an office, its early entry into the attic, its attack
of hidden roof trusses and the roof’s collapse.
The narrated simulation, which includes cutaways of walls,
ceilings and other partitions, shows that the attic was already
aflame when the firefighters arrived on the scene, that the
use of the positive pressure fan had no effect on the intensity
of the fire and that it might have been possible to see the
fire if a ceiling panel had been removed. The possibility that
the attic space could have been obscured by smoke also was noted.
DVD** contains video clips of NIST roof collapse field experiments
with the Phoenix (Ariz.) Fire Department. The DVD features burning
warehouses and single-story wood frame structures, each with human-weight
mannequins on the roofs. The research, funded by the Federal Emergency
Management Agency’s U.S. Fire Administration, is part of
an ongoing effort to develop a system to predict roof collapse.
CD titled “NISTIR 6923: Simulation of the Dynamics of
a Fire in a One-story Restaurant-Texas, February 14,
2000," also contains the NIST report to NIOSH and the
final NIOSH report on the tragedy. It is available from Daniel
Madrzykowski at email@example.com.
titled “Structural Collapse” also contains
a statistical report on “Trends in Firefighter Fatalities
Due to Structural Collapse 1979-2002.” The DVD is available
from David W. Stroup at firstname.lastname@example.org.
on Computer Forensics
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is
sponsoring a conference on digital forensics with a focus
on the latest developments in hash sets, which are software
tools that aid in determining if a computer program or file
has been altered. Experts from the Federal Bureau of Investigation,
the U.S. Air Force and NIST, among others, will make presentations
at the June 29 workshop. More information is available at:
NIST Employees Win Flemming Awards
employees of the National Institute of Standards and Technology
(NIST)—Georgia Lee Harris, Charles S. Tarrio, and
Deborah Shiu-Lan Jin—were honored with the 2003 Arthur
S. Flemming Award on June 7. This year 12 individuals received
the 55th annual Flemming Awards, which honors the best and
the brightest in federal service. NIST had a winner in each
of the award's three categories—Administrative, Applied
Science, and Scientific. Recognized by the President of
the United States, agency executives and the private sector,
the Flemming Awards honor individuals with three to 15 years
of public service experience for their extraordinary contributions
to the federal government. For further
information go to www.gwu.edu/%7Emedia/press.cfm
and click on "Best and Brightest in Federal Government
Service Named Winners of Arthur S. Flemming Awards."
Aims to Help Small Manufacturers
Secretary of Commerce for Technology Phillip J. Bond and
Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Advanced Systems and
Concepts Sue Payton have signed a five-year Memorandum of
Understanding to stimulate job growth and technology transfer
in the manufacturing sector. The agreement will help small
manufacturers tap into the Department of Defense technologies
and expertise through the Manufacturing Extension Partnership
(MEP), a program of the Commerce Department’s Technology
Administration (TA). MEP is a nationwide network of resources—managed
by TA’s National Institute of Standards and Technology
(NIST)—helping small manufacturers become more competitive.
For more information see: www.nist.gov/public_affairs/releases/mou_june9.htm.
Apply For Nation's Top Honor for Excellence
organizations have sent the National Institute of Standards
and Technology (NIST) their applications for the 2004 Malcolm
Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s Presidential
award for excellence. The 60 applicants include eight large
manufacturers, five service companies, eight small businesses,
17 education organizations, and 22 health care organizations.
Over the next six months, teams of specially-trained examiners
will evaluate these 60 organizations to determine which
will receive the 2004 Baldrige Award. For Baldrige Award
application data from 1988 to the present, see www.nist.gov/public_affairs/factsheet/nqa_appdata.htm.
Number Appointed as 2004 Baldrige Award Examiners
G. Semerjian, acting director of the National Institute
of Standards and Technology (NIST), has appointed 531 people
to the 2004 Board of Examiners for the Malcolm Baldrige
National Quality Award. Examiners, who volunteer their
time and expertise, spend the equivalent of 10 or more
days reviewing applications for the Baldrige Award, writing
feedback reports to applicants and participating in site
visits. The review process starts in June and ends in mid-November.
The number of people serving on the board has increased
over the past several years to accommodate an increased
number of applications. Created by public law in 1987,
the Baldrige Award is the highest level of national recognition
for performance excellence that a U.S. organization can
receive. For more information on the Baldrige board of
examiners, including a list of those on the 2004 board,
to NIST News Page)
Date updated: 06/15/04