NIST TechBeat Blue/Yellow Banner NIST logo--go to NIST home page Search NIST web space go to NIST home page go to A-Z subject index Contact NIST skip navigation

May 5, 2005

  In This Issue:
bullet 'Metal-Decorated' Nanotubes Hold Promise for Fuel Cells

Study Examines Measurement of Service Sector R&D

bullet DVD Showcases 2004 Baldrige Award Winners
bullet NIST Fire Analysis Tools Featured in Online Training
  Quick Links:
bullet Jin Elected to National Academy of Sciences
bullet NIST Requests Comments on Managing Cryptographic Keys

[NIST Tech Beat Search] [Credits] [NIST Tech Beat Archives] [Media Contacts] [Subscription Information]

blue divider

'Metal-Decorated' Nanotubes Hold Promise for Fuel Cells

computer model

This computer model shows how titanium atoms (dark blue) can attach above the centers of single-walled carbon nanotubes (light blue). Quantum calculations and modeling by a NIST researcher and his colleague reveal that each titanium atom can bond with four hydrogen molecules (red), a finding that could lead to efficient fuel cells for future automobiles.

Image Credit: T. Yildirim/NIST

New quantum calculations and computer models show that carbon nanotubes “decorated” with titanium or other transition metals can latch on to hydrogen molecules in numbers more than adequate for efficient hydrogen storage, a capability key to long-term efforts to develop fuel cells, an affordable non-polluting alternative to gasoline.

National Institute of Standards and Technology theorist Taner Yildirim and physicist Salim Ciraci of Turkey’s Bilkent University report their “unanticipated” findings in the online issue of Physical Review Letters.*

Using established quantum physics theory, they predict that hydrogen can amass in amounts equivalent to 8 percent of the weight of “titanium-decorated” singled walled carbon nanotubes. That’s one-third better than the 6 percent minimum storage-capacity requirement set by the FreedomCar Research Partnership involving the Department of Energy and the nation’s “Big 3” automakers.

As important, the four hydrogen molecules (two atoms each) that link to a titanium atom are readily relinquished when heated. Such reversible desorption is another requirement for practical hydrogen storage.

Resembling exceedingly small cylinders of chicken wire, so-called single-walled carbon nanotubes are among several candidate materials eyed for hydrogen storage. Reaching the 6 percent target, however, has proved difficult—a potential “showstopper,” according to many in the field. Positioning a titanium atom above the center of hexagonally arranged carbon atoms (the repeating geometric pattern characteristic of carbon nanotubes) appears to resolve the impasse according to this new study.

The new results, obtained with a method for calculating the electronic structure of materials, surprised the researchers. Interactions among carbon, titanium and hydrogen seem to give rise to unusual attractive forces. The upshot is that four hydrogen molecules can dock on a titanium atom, apparently by means of a unique chemical bond of modest strength. Several forces at work within the geometric arrangement appear to play a role in the reversible tethering of hydrogen, Yildirim says.

Yildirim and Ciraci report that their findings “suggest a possible method of engineering new nanostructures for high-capacity storage and catalyst materials.” The work was funded, in part, by the Department of Energy and National Science Foundation.

*T. Yildirim and S. Ciraci. Titanium-Decorated Carbon Nanotubes as a Potential High-Capacity Hydrogen Storage Medium. Phys. Rev. Lett. 94, 175501 (2005).

More information, such as animation of the reaction paths and other simulations, can be obtained at

Media Contact:
Mark Bello,, (301) 975-3776



blue divider

Study Examines Measurement of Service Sector R&D

The services sector in the United States—which includes everything from restaurants to telecommunications to banking—is a major driving force of the economy, generating about 80 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product. As a result, tracking innovation in the services sector is an important indicator of future economic health.

But a new joint research project of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) found that it has become progressively more difficult to classify the research and development (R&D) that fuels innovation in the services sector. "The distinction between the manufacturing and service sectors is becoming increasingly blurred," producing important impacts on the reporting of R&D activities, write Michael Gallaher and co-authors from RTI International of Research Triangle Park, N.C.

In some cases, data collected for NSF's annual Survey of Industry Research and Development are classified as services R&D because the parent company is part of the service economy, yet the R&D described is directed at new manufactured products. In other cases, manufacturing companies are increasingly providing services and conducting service-related R&D that ends up being classified as manufacturing R&D. To improve the accuracy of the survey, the study makes a number of recommendations for improved definitions and revised wording of questions.

The study included detailed case studies from telecommunications, financial, system integration, and research, development and testing services. R&D in telecommunications, for example, might include the work required to deliver videos and other multimedia to wireless phones. In emerging areas such as biotechnology, small firms increasingly use contract research organizations (CROs) to provide complementary research services.

NIST plans to use the study results for strategic planning to identify infrastructure improvements that will help foster innovation in the technology services sector.

*M. Gallaher, A.Link, J. Petrusa, RTI International. Measuring Service-Sector Research and Development, March 2005. Available at

Media Contact:
Gail Porter,, (301) 975-3392


blue divider


DVD Showcases 2004 Baldrige Award Winners

A new set of videos on DVD and CD can help companies large and small, schools and health care organizations learn about the outstanding management practices and successful strategies of the four recipients of the 2004 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

The DVD/CD set contains an in-depth look at The Bama Companies, Texas Nameplate Company, Inc., Kenneth W. Monfort College of Business, and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton and features extensive interviews with their chief executives. Also included are PowerPoint presentations by the 2004 award recipients at The Quest for Excellence conference held April 10-13, 2005, and summaries of their applications for the Baldrige Award.

The set is available from the American Society for Quality, P.O. Box 3066, Milwaukee, Wis. 53201-3066, (800) 248-1946 for $35.00. Use order number T1504. Other Baldrige National Quality Program materials also are available.

The Baldrige Award recognizes organizations in manufacturing, small business, service, education, and health care for their performance excellence and quality achievements. The award is managed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology in conjunction with the private sector.

For more information, see

Media Contact:
Jan Kosko,, (301) 975-2767



blue divider

Fire whirl

A "fire whirl"—one of the demonstrations in the Fire Dynamics and Fire Modeling web training course— illustrates the dramatic changes that ventilation can have on a fire.

Click here for high resolution version of this photo.

NIST Photo

NIST Fire Analysis Tools Featured in Online Training

A free interactive online training program for fire fighters and arson investigators that features fire research, video footage and expert analysis from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is now available. Launched by the International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI), the program is the first Internet-based course on, a new educational network.

The course, "Fire Dynamics and Fire Modeling," provides a review of tools an investigator can employ to develop a technical analysis of a fire incident. Daniel Madrzykowski, NIST fire protection engineer and lead researcher in many of the experimental fire tests, helped develop the course and narrates many of its segments.

Course participants can observe fire investigation techniques such as physical testing, hand calculations and zone models, as well as “virtual reality” reconstructions of fire incidents with the NIST Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS) and Smokeview software programs. (FDS calculates the movement of the smoke and heat from a fire. Smokeview translates the calculations into moving images on the computer screen.)

Several case studies based on actual fire incidents also are used to demonstrate the capabilities and limitations of fire modeling. The program describes data that must be collected at the fire site to improve computer simulation results, an overview of the uncertainties in the models, and methods for evaluating model results.

A “readings” section, with contributions from leading trade, professional, government and private research organizations, offers additional information. NIST selections, for instance, offer access to FIREDOC, the search engine for the NIST Fire Research Information Services library, research on liquid spill and burn patterns, as well as downloads of the Fire Dynamics Simulator and Smokeview software.

In addition to the IAAI, research partners depicted in the course include the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the National Center for Forensic Sciences (NCFS), and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Healt (NIOSH).

Media Contact:
John Blair,, (301) 975-4261



blue divider

Quick Links

Deborah S. Jin

Deborah S. Jin

© Geoffrey Wheeler

For a high resolution version of this photo, contact Gail Porter.

Jin Elected to National Academy of Sciences

Deborah S. Jin, a fellow of JILA, which is jointly operated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado (CU) Boulder, has been elected as one of 72 new members to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Jin, a NIST fellow, is also an associate adjoint professor at CU-Boulder.

Jin, 36, is the youngest woman, along with Susan Solomon of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to be elected to the academy.

Election to membership in the academy is considered one of the highest honors that can be accorded a U.S. scientist or engineer. Members are elected by current members in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

The NAS election was held May 3, 2005, during the business session of the 142nd annual meeting of the academy. The current total number of active members is 1,976. (For a link to the press release with the full list of new members, see

Jin leads a team of physicists at JILA that reported in January 2004 the first observation of a “fermionic condensate” formed from pairs of atoms in an ultracold gas, a long-sought, novel form of matter. Physicists hope that further research with such condensates eventually will help unlock the mysteries of high-temperature superconductivity, a phenomenon with the potential to improve energy efficiency dramatically across a broad range of applications.

In October 2003, Jin won a $500,000 MacArthur Fellowship, commonly known as a "genius grant."



blue divider

NIST Requests Comments on Managing Cryptographic Keys

The strongest safe cannot protect the contents within if the combination is poorly protected. The same is true of information protected by cryptography—proper management and protection of the keys needed to unlock cryptographic algorithms are essential.

NIST is asking for public comments on a draft publication, Recommendation for Key Management (NIST Special Publication 800-57) that will provide guidance on managing cryptographic keys. The publication is in two parts: Part 1 provides general guidance and best practices for managing cryptographic keying material (comments are due by June 3); Part 2 provides guidance on policy and security planning requirements for U.S. government agencies (comments are due by May 18). The report is available at Comments should be sent to

Media Contact:
Jan Kosko,, (301) 975-2767


blue divider

Return to NIST News Page)

Editor: Gail Porter

Date created:5/5/05
Date updated:5/5/05