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Latest National Institute of Standards and Technology Stories

'Star Comb' Joins Quest For Earth-like Planets
2012-03-08 04:03:29

If there is life on other planets, a laser frequency comb developed at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) may help find it. Such a comb–a tool for precisely measuring frequencies, or colors, of light–has for the first time been used to calibrate measurements of starlight from stars other than the Sun. The good results suggest combs will eventually fulfill their potential to boost the search for Earth-like planets to a new level. As described in Optics...

2012-03-07 21:40:03

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has released a new certified reference material to support the federal government's Natural Resources Damage Assessment (NRDA) in the wake of the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill 40 miles off the Louisiana coast. The new Standard Reference Material, Gulf of Mexico Crude Oil" (SRM 2779), will be used as a quality control material for the ongoing environmental impact analyses for the NRDA effort. The Deepwater Horizon disaster...

2012-03-07 21:39:11

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have done a mash-up of two very different experimental techniques–neutron scattering and electrochemical measurements–to enable them to observe structural changes in nanoparticles as they undergo an important type of chemical reaction. Their recently published technique allows them to directly match up particle size, shape and agglomeration with the "redox" chemical properties of the particles. The...

2012-03-07 21:35:32

In recent years, scientists have begun to harness DNA's powerful molecular machinery to build artificial structures at the nanoscale using the natural ability of pairs of DNA molecules to assemble into complex structures. Such "DNA origami," first developed at the California Institute of Technology, could provide a means of assembling complex nanostructures such as semiconductor devices, sensors and drug delivery systems, from the bottom up. While most researchers in the field are working...

2012-03-07 20:34:44

Organic solar cells may be a step closer to market because of measurements taken at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), where a team of scientists has developed a better fundamental understanding of how to optimize the cells' performance. Prototype solar cells made of organic materials currently lag far behind conventional silicon-based photovoltaic cells in terms of electricity output. But if even reasonably efficient...

2012-02-09 00:05:03

Individual cells modified to act as sensors using fluorescence are already useful tools in biochemistry, but now they can add good timing to their resumé, thanks in part to expertise from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). With the added capability to track the timing of dynamic biochemical reactions, cell sensors become more useful for many studies, such as measurements of protein folding or neural activity. As described in the Journal of the...

2012-02-08 23:54:52

The great artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci once said that "simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) research engineer Javier Atencia certainly believes in the wisdom of what da Vinci preached; he has a reputation for creating novel microfluidic devices out of ordinary, inexpensive components. This time, he has combined a glass slide, plastic sheets and double-sided tape into a "diffusion-based gradient generator"–a tool to...

2012-02-08 23:53:48

You often hear about the Framers of the Constitution, but not so much the framers of the Magna Carta. They work for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Not the authors, of course; they've been dead 700 years. But a NIST engineering team, at the behest of the National Archives, designed and built a state-of-the-art encasement and transport cart to protect the Archive's prized copy of the 1297 Magna Carta. Their work–and the freshly conserved Magna...

2012-02-08 18:35:49

Filtering carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, from factory smokestacks is a necessary, but expensive part of many manufacturing processes. However, a collaborative research team from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Delaware has gathered new insight into the performance of a material called a zeolite that may stop carbon dioxide in its tracks far more efficiently than current scrubbers do. Zeolites are highly porous rocks–think of a sponge...

2012-02-08 18:34:44

A team from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Maryland has found an iron-based superconductor that operates at the highest known temperature for a material in its class. The discovery inches iron-based superconductors–valued for their ease of manufacturability and other properties–closer to being useful in many practical applications. Iron-based superconductors, which were discovered only about four years ago, are a hot research...


Word of the Day
drawcansir
  • A blustering, bullying fellow; a pot-valiant braggart; a bully.
This word is named for Draw-Can-Sir, a character in George Villiers' 17th century play The Rehearsal.
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