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Materials

Plastics, carbon nanotubes, high-strength alloys, artificial bone and joint replacements are just some of the emerging materials for which NIST develops testbeds, defines benchmarks, and develops formability measurements and models.

SOCIAL SPOTLIGHT: BOTTOMS-UP METAL-FILLING

Micrograph shows several connected trenches of metal on dark background.
Credit: D. Josell/NIST

A method worth its metal — filling microscopic holes with gold can be tricky, but NIST scientist Daniel Josell is up for the challenge. A type of medical imaging (called phase contrast X-ray imaging) pushes X-rays through the gold that fills tiny trenches in silicon gratings. The better the fill, the better the imaging results. Daniel’s new metal-filling method deposits the gold far more rapidly at the bottom of the trenches, preventing a buildup of atoms on the sides that can prevent complete filling. That way, there won’t be any gaps or pockets to reduce the equipment’s performance.

Daniel presented his work to a group of venture capitalists as part of NIST’s Technology Maturation Accelerator Program, who selected it as a likely candidate for success in the marketplace. The funding from the program puts Daniel on the path toward success, and we can’t wait to see where it leads!

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SOCIAL SPOTLIGHT: JUNE LAU

woman in a blue dress and white sweater stands next to an electron microscope
Credit: R. Wilson/NIST

Closing in on a clear picture: NIST's June Lau, in collaboration with Brookhaven National Lab and Euclid Techlabs, is giving us a freeze-frame look at the smallest parts of our world.

Standard microscopes — like you might find in a high school chemistry class or forensic science lab — focus light through glass to see tiny things. But sometimes scientists need to get a look at things even smaller than the wavelength of light.

That’s where electron microscopes come in, using electrons to interact with the object you are trying to see. But what about super-small objects that are also moving super-fast? These objects show up under the electron microscope with a motion blur, like what our eyes perceive when we put some speed behind a fidget spinner.

The motion blur creates the perception of a shape that, up until now, we assumed was the shape of the object. That’s because most electron microscopes could only see atoms in space, not in time.

Now, June’s team and our collaborators at Brookhaven and Euclid Techlabs have invented a new type of electron microscope that brings time into the equation. They shoot microwaves at an arbitrary frequency through a waveguide, so that only electrons catching onto their desired wave can get through the microscope.

Bottom line — if you control the waves, you control the time frame. It’s a whole new level of photography, capturing atomic-scale still images midmotion.

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Materials by Design

Many different rectangular pieces of webby material are all wrapped up in a big ball. The pieces are each colored differently so that you can tell them apart in the bunch. These are meant to represent a graphene melt.
Credit: Xia-Wenjie, Ridvan Kahraman/North Dakota State University

Every “thing” is made of materials — roads, engines and medical devices, to name just a few examples. For centuries, inventing and developing new materials for industrial applications took long amounts of time and tremendous amounts of trial and error. Speeding up that process could save time and money and spur a great deal of innovation across many sectors of the economy. Read about how NIST's Materials Genome Initiative plans to do just that.

News and Updates

NIST AI System Discovers New Material

When the words “artificial intelligence” (AI) come to mind, your first thoughts may be of super-smart computers, or robots that perform tasks without needing

Events

Industry Impacts

Cement

Cement is the core ingredient in concrete, the most widely used building material in the world. It plays an integral role in infrastructure such as buildings

Lightweight Materials for Automobiles

Automotive companies are increasingly using lightweight materials to improve vehicle fuel economy. However, incorporating those materials into new vehicles is

Helmet Materials for 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

Projects and Programs

JARVIS-ML

JARVIS-ML is a repository of machine learning (ML) model parameters, descriptors, and ML related input and target data. JARVIS-ML is a part of the NIST-JARVIS

Publications

Software

MicroChar

(Return to Cement Hydration and Degradation Modeling Software) Accurate quantitative data on cement and clinker microstructure images can prove valuable for

gppois

gppois is a Bayesian tool for learning about a smooth function based on noisy measurements of its values. Users train a model of the true function on the noisy

HolograFREE

An electron hologram is a fringe modulated image containing the amplitude and phase information of an electron transparent object. The HolograFREE routines

Tools and Instruments

Thermogravimetric Analyzer

Thermogravimetric Analysis, or TGA, is a classic thermoanalytical measurement performed on many different types of materials. In our laboratory, it is used for

Awards