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Feature Stories and Photo Essays

As the nation’s laboratory for measurement science, standards and technology, NIST has stimulated U.S. innovation and economic competitiveness through its world-class work in many areas of national importance. The following features provide big-picture views of the many research fields that NIST has helped to advance.

Why You Need Standards

Technical standards keep us safe, enable technology to advance, and help businesses succeed. They quietly make the modern world tick and prevent technological problems that you might not realize could even happen.

Masks Under the Microscope

To understand how something works, it helps to see it up close. A team of researchers took this approach when studying the fabric masks that people wear to slow the spread of COVID-19. Check out the photos here.

Piecing Together the Timeline of California’s Deadliest Wildfire

A monstrous wildfire known as the Camp Fire nearly razed the town of Paradise, California, in 2018 and remains the state’s deadliest and costliest wildfire to date. Within the turmoil left in the wake of the inferno, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Materials by Design

A dash of artificial intelligence, a pinch of human ingenuity and a huge helping of collaboration... read about NIST's role in the recipes of Materials Genome Initiative.

To Each Mammal, Its Milk

Milk — it’s what distinguishes mammals from the rest of the animal kingdom. It’s also an incredibly complex substance, and scientists, including some at NIST, are working to identify the many chemical components of milk and the roles they play in nutrition, immunity, and other areas.

Staying Chill, Even When Disaster Strikes

When most people prepare for a hurricane, they buy food and water. But when scientist Amanda Moors sees one of those big, red, pinwheel-shaped storms appear on the weather map, she buys liquid nitrogen.

Behind the Scenes: The Making of a NIST Holiday Special

Every holiday season, hundreds of residential fires start with a Christmas tree. You may have seen NIST’s video that illustrates the dramatic difference between a fire started in a well-watered tree versus in a dry tree. Get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the video shoot.

Measurements Matter

The government has acronyms for seemingly everything. At NIST, one even has a registered trademark: SRM® is the “brand name” of our certified reference materials, the generic term for these vital tools.

Built to House an Inferno

The new National Fire Research Laboratory aims to make buildings better and safer. The expanded facility can hold structures up to two stories tall and contain fires up to 20 megawatts of peak energy—that’s equivalent to a small home engulfed by fire!

Who Was Detective X?

In the gangster era of Prohibition and the Great Depression, a physicist at the National Bureau of Standards, now NIST, brought modern ideas to the then-emerging field of forensic science.