The institute’s official mission is to:
- Promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.
NIST had an operating budget for fiscal year 2007 (October 1, 2006-September 30, 2007) of about $843.3 million. NIST’s 2009 budget was $992 million, and it also received $610 million as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. NIST employs about 2,900 scientists, engineers, technicians, and support and administrative personnel. About 1,800 NIST associates (guest researchers and engineers from American companies and foreign countries) complement the staff.
In addition, NIST partners with 1,400 manufacturing specialists and staff at nearly 350 affiliated centers around the country. NIST publishes the Handbook 44 that provides the “Specifications, tolerances, and other technical requirements for weighing and measuring devices”.
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) research articles from Innovation Toronto
- New Experimental Test Detects Signs of Lyme Disease Near Time of Infection – February 17, 2016
- Nanoworld Snow Blowers: a New Method for Self-Assembly – January 2, 2016
- NIST Team Proves Spooky Action at a Distance is Really Real – November 13, 2015
- NIST Team Breaks Distance Record for Quantum Teleportation – September 30, 2015
- NIST Physicists Show ‘Molecules’ Made of Light May Be Possible – September 14, 2015
- Ultra-stable Microscopy Technique Tracks Tiny Objects for Hours – July 6, 2015
- Shape-Shifting Sensor Can Report Conditions from Deep in the Body – April 7, 2015
- Hybrid Memory Device for Superconducting Computing – February 1, 2015
- Ultrasonically propelled nanorods spin at 150,000 rpm! – July 28, 2014
- New NIST Metamaterial Gives Light a One-Way Ticket – July 5, 2014
- Net-zero energy test house exceeds goal and ends year with energy to spare – July 4, 2014
- A development that could have profound implications for the future of electronics, sensors, energy conversion and energy storage. | metal-organic framework
- Getting 3-D Printing and Next-Generation Manufacturing to the Factory Floor
- Quantum Refrigerator Offers Extreme Cooling and Convenience
- KAIST develops wireless power transfer technology for high capacity transit
- Internet security: Besieged
- These new materials work well up to 100 GHz, opening the door for the next generation of devices for advanced communications.
- NIST Study Advances Use of Iris Images as a Long-Term Form of Identification
- New Filtration Material Could Make Petroleum Refining Cheaper, More Efficient
- Scientists Build Record-Setting Metamaterial Flat Lens
- UBC engineer helps pioneer flat spray-on optical lens
- NIST Demonstrates Significant Improvement in the Performance of Solar-Powered Hydrogen Generation
- A New Delivery for Cancer Drugs
- Prototype Generators Emit Much Less Carbon Monoxide, NIST Finds
- Quantum Teleportation in Space Explored as Message Encryption Solution
- Breakthrough offers new route to large-scale quantum computing
- Tiny new sensor could simplify brain wave research
- Ultrasound Idea
- Chemical-etching technique could lead to diamond micro-machines
- Iron ‘Veins’ Are Secret of Promising New Hydrogen Storage Material
- Reliability Issues for Carbon Nanotubes in Future Electronics Uncovered
- Perception Challenge has next-generation robots in its sights
- ‘Breathalyzers’ May Be Useful for Medical Diagnostics
- Language Translation Devices for US Troops Tested
- Electrical potential
- Home Energy Savings Are Made In The Shade
- Sympathy for the Luddites
- The Patent Wars Begin Over Graphene, A Material That’s About To Change Our Lives
- Net-Zero Energy Buildings Take Hold in U.S.
- Toga, toga, toga
- Energy-efficiency measures could save consumers $41 billion
Converting a single photon from one color, or frequency, to another is an essential tool in quantum communication, which harnesses the subtle correlations between the subatomic properties of photons (particles of light) to securely store and transmit information. Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have now developed a miniaturized version of a frequency converter, using technology similar to that used to make computer chips.
The tiny device, which promises to help improve the security and increase the distance over which next-generation quantum communication systems operate, can be tailored for a wide variety of uses, enables easy integration with other information-processing elements and can be mass produced.
The new nanoscale optical frequency converter efficiently converts photons from one frequency to the other while consuming only a small amount of power and adding a very low level of noise, namely background light not associated with the incoming signal.
Frequency converters are essential for addressing two problems. The frequencies at which quantum systems optimally generate and store information are typically much higher than the frequencies required to transmit that information over kilometer-scale distances in optical fibers. Converting the photons between these frequencies requires a shift of hundreds of terahertz (one terahertz is a trillion wave cycles per second).
Researchers working at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a “piezo-optomechanical circuit” that converts signals among optical, acoustic and radio waves. A system based on this design could move and store information in next-generation computers.
While Moore’s Law, the idea that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit will double every two years, has proven remarkably resilient, engineers will soon begin to encounter fundamental limits. As transistors shrink, heat and other factors will begin to have magnified effects in circuits. As a result, researchers are increasingly considering designs in which electronic components interface with other physical systems that carry information such as light and sound. Interfacing these different types of physical systems could circumvent some of the problems of components that rely on just one type of information carrier, if researchers can develop efficient ways of converting signals from one type to another (transduction).
For example, light is able to carry a lot of information and typically doesn’t interact with its environment very strongly, so it doesn’t heat up components like electricity does. As useful as light is, however, it isn’t suited to every situation. Light is difficult to store for long periods, and it can’t interact directly with some components of a circuit. On the other hand, acoustic wave devices are already used in wireless communications technology, where sound is easier to store for long periods in compact structures since it moves much more slowly.
To address such needs, NIST researchers and their collaborators built a piezoelectric optomechanical circuit on a chip. At the heart of this circuit is an optomechanical cavity, which in their case consists of a suspended nanoscale beam. Within the beam are a series of holes that act sort of like a hall of mirrors for light (photons). Photons of a very specific color or frequency bounce back and forth between these mirrors thousands of times before leaking out. At the same time, the nanoscale beam confines phonons, that is, mechanical vibrations, at a frequency of billions of cycles per second (gigahertz or GHz). The photons and phonons exchange energy so that vibrations of the beam influence the buildup of photons inside the cavity, while the buildup of photons inside the cavity influences the size of the mechanical vibrations. The strength of this mutual interaction, or coupling, is one of the largest reported for an optomechanical system.
One of the researchers’ main innovations came from joining these cavities with acoustic waveguides, which are components that route sound waves to specific locations. By channeling phonons into the optomechanical device, the group was able to manipulate the motion of the nanoscale beam directly. Because of the energy exchange, the phonons could change the properties of the light trapped in the device. To generate the sound waves, which were at GHz frequencies (much higher than audible sounds; not even your dog could hear them), they used piezoelectric materials, which deform when an electric field is applied to them and vice versa. By using a structure known as an “interdigitated transducer” (IDT), which enhances this piezoelectric effect, the group was able to establish a link between radio frequency electromagnetic waves and the acoustic waves. The strong optomechanical links enable them to optically detect this confined coherent acoustic energy down to the level of a fraction of a phonon.
They also observed controllable interference effects in sound waves by pitting electrically and optically generated phonons against each other. According to one of the paper’s co-authors, Kartik Srinivasan, the device might allow detailed studies of these interactions and the development of phononic circuitry that can be modified with photons.
“Future information processing systems may need to incorporate other information carriers, such as photons and phonons, in order to carry out different tasks in an optimal way,” says Srinivasan, a physicist at NIST’s Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology. “This work presents one platform for transducing information between such different carriers.”
Manufacturers may soon have a speedy and nondestructive way to test a wide array of materials under real-world conditions, thanks to an advance that researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have made in roll-to-roll measurements.
Roll-to-roll measurements are typically optical measurements for roll-to-roll manufacturing, any method that uses conveyor belts for continuous processing of items, from tires to nanotechnology components.
In order for new materials such as carbon nanotubes and graphene to play an increasingly important role in electronic devices, high-tech composites and other applications, manufacturers will need quality-control tests to ensure that products have desired characteristics, and lack flaws. Current test procedures often require cutting, scratching or otherwise touching a product, which slows the manufacturing process and can damage or even destroy the sample being tested.
To add to existing testing non-contact methods, NIST physicists Nathan Orloff, Christian Long and Jan Obrzut measured properties of films by passing them through a specially designed metal box known as a microwave cavity. Electromagnetic waves build up inside the cavity at a specific “resonance” frequency determined by the box’s size and shape, similar to how a guitar string vibrates at a specific pitch depending on its length and tension. When an object is placed inside the cavity, the resonance frequency changes in a way that depends on the object’s size, electrical resistance and dielectric constant, a measure of an object’s ability to store energy in an electric field. The frequency change is reminiscent of how shortening or tightening a guitar string makes it resonate at a higher pitch, says Orloff.
The researchers also built an electrical circuit to measure these changes. They first tested their device by running a strip of plastic tape known as polyimide through the cavity, using a roll-to-roll setup resembling high-volume roll-to-roll manufacturing devices used to mass-produce nanomaterials. (See video.) As the tape’s thickness increased and decreased—the researchers made the changes in tape thickness spell “NIST” in Morse code—the cavity’s resonant frequency changed in tandem. So did another parameter called the “quality factor,” which is the ratio of the energy stored in the cavity to the energy lost per frequency cycle. Because polyimide’s electrical properties are well known, a manufacturer could use the cavity measurements to monitor whether tape is coming off the production line at a consistent thickness—and even feeding back information from the measurements to control the thickness.
Alternatively, a manufacturer could use the new method to monitor the electrical properties of a less well-characterized material of known dimensions. Orloff and Long demonstrated this by passing 12- and 15-centimeter-long films of carbon nanotubes deposited on sheets of plastic through the cavity and measuring the films’ electrical resistance. The entire process took “less than a second,” says Orloff. He added that with industry-standard equipment, the measurements could be taken at speeds beyond 10 meters per second, more than enough for many present-day manufacturing operations.
The new method has several advantages for a thin-film manufacturer, says Orloff. One, “You can measure the entire thing, not just a small sample,” he said. Such real-time measurements could be used to tune the manufacturing process without shutting it down, or to discard a faulty batch of product before it gets out the factory door. “This method could significantly boost prospects of not making a faulty batch in the first place,” Long noted.
And because the method is nondestructive, Orloff added, “If a batch passes the test, manufacturers can sell it.”
Films of carbon nanotubes and graphene are just starting to be manufactured in bulk for potential applications such as composite airplane materials, smartphone screens and wearable electronic devices.
Orloff, Long and Obrzut submitted a patent application for this technique in December 2015.
A producer of such materials has already expressed interest in the new method, said Orloff. “They’re really excited about it.” He added that the method is not specific to nanomanufacturing, and with a properly designed cavity, could also help with quality control of many other kinds of products, including tires, pharmaceuticals and even beer.