When President Eisenhower dedicated the NIST facilities in Boulder, Colo., in 1954, no one imagined that half a century later scientists would be manipulating matter atom by atom. Such technological advances require increasingly complex and difficult measurements to be able to observe, characterize, and create structures at ever smaller spatial scales.
As the structures shrink in size, small fluctuations in temperature, humidity, air quality, and vibration begin to distort the results. These conditions are inhibiting further advances in some of the most promising areas of research for the 21st century.
As the nation's premier measurement agency, NIST must be able to produce extremely accurate data for industry and academia to maintain confidence in its results. Improvement in environmental conditions within NIST's Boulder, Colo., research laboratories is required to make further progress in measurements related to high- frequency electronics, advanced materials characterized at the atomic level, subcellular forces, timing accuracy, and other areas.
As the final funding request for a three-year program, the $43.5 million proposed in the FY 2009 budget will complete state-of-the-art laboratory space that will meet the stringent environmental conditions required for 21st-century scientific advances. With a total cost of $77.2 million, the Building 1 Extension is the most cost-effective approach to enabling world-class measurement science in support of some of the country's most important economic sectors.
Construction of the B1E will dramatically enhance NIST's measurement capability and will directly support the needs of industry and academia. Some of the anticipated impacts include the ability to:
make precision frequency measurements above 100 GHz (100 billion cycles per second), which are required for advanced commercial electronics, military systems, and homeland security;
measure and perform research on the properties of materials at the single-atom level needed for the development of quantum and nanotechnologies;
measure forces below 10-12 newtons (one billionth the weight of a feather) to understand the inner workings of cells and to apply this measurement capability to other physical systems; and
make timing measurements with uncertainties reduced to one part in 10-18 (the equivalent of one second in 30 billion years), enabling whole new generations of position, navigation, and guidance systems.