Industry Impacts

As industry’s national laboratory, NIST is dedicated to supporting U.S. competitiveness in areas of national importance from communications technology and cybersecurity to advanced manufacturing and disaster resilience. Below is a sampling of ways NIST's work in the areas of measurement science, standards and technology is helping to enhance economic security and improve quality of life.

Rendering of a new Honeywell plant

NIST Impacts: Automotive Refrigerants

Traditional auto air conditioning refrigerants have high global warming potentials, but finding better refrigerants with the right properties has been a major challenge for industry. Researchers at NIST provided measurements of refrigerant fluid properties that enabled the production and adoption of a next-generation auto refrigerant.
illustration of an oncolytic virus particle

NIST Impacts: Cancer Therapy Formulations

New cancer therapies that use active viruses cannot always be studied using standard drug development practices. The NIST Center for Neutron Research user facility provides the biopharmaceutical industry with neutron scattering methods and modeling techniques to help them understand the properties of their viral drug formulations.

NIST Impacts: Low GHG Refrigerants

Hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants are potent greenhouse gases (GHG) that are being phased down by the U.S. and 196 other countries under the Montreal Protocol of 2016. NIST helps the air conditioning industry find new refrigerants to replace HFCs that will have a much lesser impact on the climate.
Propagation-Channel Measurements and Hardware Verification

NIST Impacts: 5G Wireless Communications

The next generation of wireless communications technology will allow many more devices to send information much faster, making possible everything from virtual reality to driverless cars. NIST works with industry and academia to understand how those technologies behave, so next generation wireless networks can be deployed sooner and with a better user experience.
Researchers at the NIST Center Lightweighting Lab

NIST Impacts: Automotive Lightweighting

Automotive companies are increasingly using lightweight materials to improve vehicle fuel economy. However, incorporating those materials into new vehicles is time-consuming and costly. NIST data and models are helping automakers understand and predict how materials behave in the harsh conditions inherent to manufacturing.

NIST Impacts: Biopharmaceuticals

Protein-based biologic drugs, which are increasingly used to treat cancers, autoimmune disorders and infectious diseases, are hard to produce, store and deliver reliably. Better measurement tools developed by NIST drive innovation and lower costs associated with these drugs.
atom-based magnetic sensor

NIST Impacts: Brain Mapping

Magnetic signals produced by electrical currents in the brain can be used to map brain processes and help in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. Traditionally, medical researchers have been limited to large and costly instrumentation to measure these signals. NIST’s miniature sensor technology now provides companies with the opportunity to build smaller, inexpensive sensors to accelerate our understanding of the human brain.
Image of the Virtual Cybernetic Building Test Bed

NIST Impacts: Building Automation and Control

Central control of systems such as heating and cooling, lighting and fire detection in large commercial buildings can improve energy efficiency and occupant safety and comfort, but only if those systems can communicate with one another. NIST led the development of a data communication protocol that makes it possible to integrate multiple building control products made by different manufacturers in different industries.
Tim Quinn with pacemaker

NIST Impacts: Cardiac Devices

In the past decade, hundreds of thousands of patients were affected by two major recalls of electrical leads used in cardiac pacemakers and implanted defibrillators due to early failures. Today, NIST’s reliability tests are helping manufacturers ensure their cardiac devices last for the length of time promised to patients.
Chemical Manufacturing Plant

NIST Impacts: Chemical Manufacturing

Chemical plants need access to consistent, reliable data to design their products and assess the safety, quality and efficiency of their manufacturing processes. NIST’s ThermoData Engine Standard Reference Database provides the data that enables chemical companies to save valuable time and expense by using simulations rather than running full-scale experiments.

NIST Impacts: Commercial Building Fire Protection

Commercial buildings are over-engineered for fire protection, leading to billions of dollars in waste with little benefit to occupant safety. NIST leads research about how fires burn in buildings and develops tools so architects can confidently identify ways to cut costs without undermining safety.
forest fire

NIST Impacts: Community Resilience

Hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires can’t be prevented, but informed community planning could reduce the impact of these hazards. NIST brought together state and local governments, first responders and businesses across the country to develop tools that will improve planning and help communities recover more quickly from disasters.
Computer scientist Murugiah Souppaya investigates security techniques for protecting virtuallized computing environments and cloud computing systems.

NIST Impacts: Cybersecurity

More than ever, organizations must balance a rapidly evolving cyber threat landscape against the need to fulfill business requirements. To help these organizations manage their cybersecurity risk, NIST convened stakeholders to develop a Cybersecurity Framework that addresses threats and supports business. While the primary stakeholders of the Framework are U.S. private-sector owners and operators of critical infrastructure, its user base has grown to include communities and organizations across the globe.
integrating sphere for light measurements

NIST Impacts: Efficient Lighting

While the advantages of more energy-efficient lighting are clear, early replacements for traditional incandescent lamps didn’t meet customer expectations or manufacturer claims. NIST worked with industry partners to develop new measurement techniques so next-generation lighting could meet customer needs.
Photo of NIST scientists with the PSCR Deployable LTE Cell-on-Wheels

NIST Impacts: First Responder Communications

First responders must be able to communicate during an emergency. Too often in critical situations, communications among public safety agencies are hampered by interoperability problems. NIST’s Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) program is helping technology vendors determine how they can best meet the unique needs of the public safety community.
NIST Materials Scientist Michael Riley prepares a sample of material for a drop test that will reveal its ability to absorb and dissipate energy.

NIST Impacts: Head Health

Athletes, warfighters and even children riding their bikes all can benefit from better protective gear to prevent head injuries. The Head Health Challenge launched by the NFL, Under Armour, GE and NIST is inspiring new advanced materials that could provide solutions to this problem.
Photo of NIST scientist using Particle Image Velocimetry to measure the air flow distribution through a heat pump component.

NIST Impacts: Heat Pumps

High-efficiency heat pumps can save consumers money on heating and cooling homes and businesses—which often account for more than a quarter of their electricity bill. NIST research is helping industry improve the design and installation of heat pumps for increased efficiency and performance.
Image of a radiation pressure power meter

NIST Impacts: High-Power Lasers for Manufacturing 

Measuring the intensity of high-power lasers used by manufacturers for precision cutting and welding can be difficult due to large instrumentation challenges and time-consuming calibrations. To overcome these challenges, NIST scientists invented a radically new method of measuring laser intensity using the force of the laser beam’s photons.
Jeremy Marvel adjusts robotic arm

NIST Impacts: Human-Robot Collaboration

The use of robots in factories is limited by the robots’ ability to safely collaborate with one another and with human workers. NIST’s technical leadership provides industry with the assurance they need to use collaborative robots in manufacturing environments.
new MRI breast phantom

NIST Impacts: Improving Medical Imaging

When a patient goes to a doctor’s office, hospital or clinic to get an MRI scan, he or she trusts that the medical imaging technologies are working properly. NIST and its partners developed tools to benchmark those tests, to support medical decisions and ensure patient trust.
Test Bed

NIST Impacts: Industrial Control Systems Cybersecurity

Despite the threats of cyberattack on computer-controlled industrial systems, utilities and other users of these systems can be hesitant to adopt common security technologies out of concern for their impact on system performance. NIST developed a guide to help industry understand and implement cybersecurity approaches to protect them from these threats.
SEMPA image showing the magnetization of an unpatterned region of Ta/CoFeB.

NIST Impacts: Magnetic Storage

Manufacturers of magnetic data storage are continually developing higher density devices to meet the demand for faster, longer-lasting and lower-energy IT systems. NIST’s nanotechnology user facility provides researchers and manufacturers a unique ability to visualize and understand magnetic devices and materials on ever-shrinking scales.
Two men stand behind a piece of metal on a custom tripod

NIST Impacts: Manufacturing Large Objects

It’s expensive and time-consuming for manufacturers to ensure the large objects they make, such as aircraft wings and earth-moving equipment, are the right size for proper assembly and function. Industry turned to NIST researchers for help in engineering a device that can quickly and accurately test the measuring systems manufacturers use on the factory floor.
A man in a hardhat standing on top of the million-pound weight stack with a person standing at the bottom.

NIST Impacts: Massive Forces

Measuring large forces, such as the thrust of a rocket engine or the deflection of an aircraft wing, requires well-calibrated force sensors. NIST’s unique Million Pound Deadweight Machine provides these necessary calibrations for aerospace and other industries that need to measure huge forces.
Visual representation of a Hankel function for complex variables

NIST Impacts: Mathematical Modeling

Mathematical modeling provides information that is difficult to obtain from experimentation alone and can, therefore, save scientists and engineers time and money as they create new drugs or design lighter and stronger airplanes. The NIST Digital Library of Mathematical Functions (DLMF) is the backbone of such modeling, giving researchers an authoritative reference with definitions, notations and essential properties of the most commonly used concepts in mathematical modeling.
Photo of NIST scientist with the big blue ball covered in thermal insulation.

NIST Impacts: Natural Gas Delivery

The accuracy of flow meters measuring natural gas has enormous commercial importance. NIST is developing a new technique to calibrate large flows at high pressures, like natural gas flowing inside interstate pipelines, replacing today’s expensive, time-consuming and labor-intensive approach.
Close up of the NIST chip-scale atomic clock

NIST Impacts: Navigation through Timekeeping

Accurate navigation requires precision timing synchronization to about 1 billionth of a second per day. New applications require timing mechanisms that can operate without satellites and in harsh environments. NIST developed a chip-scale atomic clock (CSAC) that is smaller, energy-efficient and more accurate.
encryption illustration

NIST Impacts: Online Security

Mobile computing, e-commerce and the proliferation of connected devices bring unprecedented benefits to our lives. But to protect individuals, businesses and the government from the risks they bring, we need strong encryption. NIST provides trusted tools and guidance to increase the use of encryption.

NIST Impacts: Precision Medicine

To evaluate the accuracy of emerging fast and affordable genetic testing technologies that will enable medical treatments tailored to individual patients, scientists need a known DNA sequence. NIST’s reference materials provide benchmark genomes to ensure the accuracy of new, high-throughput DNA tests.
Homeowner looks at the Remain of His Neighborhood

NIST Impacts: Resilient Infrastructure

The best way to prevent buildings, bridges and other structures from collapsing—whether because of natural forces, human error or malicious attacks—is to learn from the past. NIST studies disasters to help engineers, local governments, first responders and communities understand how to avoid future tragedies.
High-speed amplified probe

NIST Impacts: Semiconductors

Semiconductors are the foundation of information technology, making possible the internet, online businesses and social media. Semiconductors are also one of the U.S.’s top exports, with $42B in exports in 2015. NIST is working with the semiconductor industry to overcome quickly approaching physical limitations to chip improvement.
A graphical representation of traffic to the NIST Internet Time Service that illustrates the census of observed clients on a ‘map’ of the IPv4 Internet.

NIST Impacts: Time and Synchronization

In our increasingly connected modern economy, the IT services we rely on are built on the synchronization of clocks. For many functions, devices must agree on when information was sent and received down to a tenth of a second. NIST’s Internet Time Service makes this possible by giving computers the time of day.
Michal Chojnacky checks vaccine temps

NIST Impacts: Vaccine Storage

As much as 35 percent of vaccines shipped worldwide is wasted because it is transported or stored at temperatures too high or too low. NIST’s research is helping the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend effective ways for vaccine providers to protect their vaccines and reduce waste.

NIST Impacts: Wildland-Urban Interface Fires

Fires within communities surrounded by natural areas are the most dangerous and costliest fires in North America. Growing at a staggering 4,000 acres per day, these Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) communities are rapidly becoming the nation’s single largest fire concern. NIST-led research and post-fire investigations are providing the scientific basis for reducing a WUI community’s fire risk.