Commerce.gov is getting a facelift soon. See the new design.
Syndicate content

Blog Category: National Institute of Standards and Technology

Two New Advanced Laboratories Open at NIST Boulder and JILA

Ribbon cutting to dedicate the new JILA X-Wing addition at the University of Colorado Boulder. Left to right: Tom O'Brian, chief of the NIST Quantum Physics Division; Philip DiStefano, Chancellor of the University of Colorado Boulder; NIST Director Patrick Gallagher; and Eric Cornell, JILA Department Chair and Nobel Laureate. ((Photo: Casey A. Cass/University of Colorado))

Two new advanced laboratory buildings for high-precision science and measurements have officially opened in Boulder, Colo., providing upgraded facilities to support technology innovation and economic growth as well as the training of future scientists.

Federal, state and local government officials, university leaders, and Nobel laureates were among those attending the April 13, 2012, dedication ceremonies and tours at the new Precision Measurement Laboratory (PML) on the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) campus in Boulder and at the new X-Wing at JILA, a joint venture of NIST and the University of Colorado (CU) Boulder. JILA is located on the CU-Boulder campus.

Both new laboratories tightly control environmental conditions such as vibration and temperature, as is required for cutting-edge research with lasers, atomic clocks, nanotechnology and other areas of study at NIST and JILA. Both new buildings also have capabilities for micro- and nanofabrication of custom research devices. The original NIST-Boulder and JILA laboratories were built in the 1950s and 1960s.

Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Patrick Gallagher cut the ribbon to officially open the PML, which will house some of NIST's best-known experiments and technologies, including NIST-F1, the U.S. civilian standard atomic clock.

Secretary Bryson Congratulates 2010 and 2011 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Recipients

Secretary Bryson applauds the 2010 and 2011 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recipients

On Sunday, Commerce Secretary John Bryson congratulated the 11 U.S. organizations who were awarded the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s highest Presidential honor for organizational performance excellence and innovation.

Named after Malcolm Baldrige, the 26th Secretary of Commerce, the Baldrige Award was established by Congress in 1987 to enhance the competitiveness and performance of U.S. businesses. Eligibility for the award was expanded in 1998 to include education and health care and in 2007 to include nonprofit organizations. The award promotes excellence in organizational performance, recognizes the achievements and results of U.S. organizations, and publicizes successful performance strategies. Since 1988, 90 organizations have received Baldrige Awards.

2010 Award Recipients

  • MEDRAD (a division of Bayer Healthcare), Warrendale, Pa. (manufacturing)
  • Nestlé Purina PetCare Co., St. Louis, Mo. (manufacturing)
  • Freese and Nichols Inc., Fort Worth, Texas (small business)
  • K&N Management, Austin, Texas (small business)
  • Studer Group, Gulf Breeze, Fla. (small business)
  • Montgomery County Public Schools, Rockville, Md. (education)
  • Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital, Downers Grove, Ill. (health care)

2011 Award Recipients

  • Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, Mo. (nonprofit)
  • Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, Mich. (health care)
  • Schneck Medical Center, Seymour, Ind. (health care)
  • Southcentral Foundation, Anchorage, Alaska (health care)

Get additional information on the Baldrige Award, the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, and profiles of the 2010 and 2011 Award recipients.

NIST in the 1940s

NIST in the 1940s

Ed. Note: This post is part of a series following the release of the 1940 Census highlighting various Commerce agencies and their hard work on behalf of the American people during the 1940s through today.

In 1940, the United States was officially not involved in the burgeoning conflicts in Europe and Asia. Yet secretly the country was hurriedly preparing for war. A decade of drought and economic depression and 20 years of peace had left the military with a fleet of outdated ships, divisions of ancient armored vehicles, scores of rusty rifles, and little in the way of new weapons and other technological development.

Mobilizing for war in the face of these deficits required materials and production on a monumental scale. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (then called the National Bureau of Standards) was enlisted to ensure that those materials and the manufacturing processes used to shape them were of the highest quality and performed as expected.  

NIST/CU 'Star Comb' Joins Quest for Earthlike Planets

Infrared starlight (three solid band) by comparing the missing light to a laser frequency comb reference "ruler" (sets of bright vertical bars indicating precise wavelengths, which increase from left to right).  Credit: CU/NIST/Penn State

If there is life on other planets, a laser frequency comb developed at Commerce's 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.

The comb was transported to the Texas mountains to calibrate a light analyzing instrument called a spectrograph at the Hobby-Eberly telescope. A University of Colorado Boulder (CU) astronomer and Pennsylvania State University students and astronomers collaborated on the project.

“The comb worked great,” says NIST physicist Scott Diddams. “In a few days, it enabled measurement precision comparable to the very best achieved in the same wavelength range with much more established techniques—and we hope the comb will do much better as the new technique is perfected.”

The NIST comb calibrated measurements of infrared starlight. This type of light is predominantly emitted by M dwarf stars, which are plentiful in Earth’s part of the galaxy and might have orbiting planets suitable to life.

Global Biometric Leaders Attend International Biometric Performance Conference at NIST

image of thumb print

Anyone who enjoys police dramas on TV knows that biometrics such as fingerprints and DNA are used to match criminals to crimes. But increasingly, biometrics are being used in public and private arenas to ensure access to computers and buildings, or to authenticate that you are really you when traveling internationally with an e–passport. One day, biometrics may be used to authenticate who you are when banking or buying something on the Internet.

Last week, biometric experts from across the globe have been attending the International Biometric Performance Conference at Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Md. This applied research conference was focused on identifying fundamental, relevant, effective and new performance metrics for biometric systems and determining and sharing best practices for performance evaluation and calibration as they relate to design specifications and day-to-day operations. The goal is for people and computer systems to know reliably who is who.

Building America’s Future: Smart Investments in Advanced Manufacturing

From the front row, Secretary Bryson watches President Obama at the Rolls-Royce Crosspointe Manufacturing Plant

Guest blog post by Commerce Secretary John Bryson

I had the opportunity today to join President Obama on a visit to the Rolls-Royce Crosspointe facility in Prince George’s County, Virginia. This facility manufactures components of some of the company’s most advanced airplane engines.  The company announced that it is planning to add 140 new jobs at Crosspointe and more than 100 additional jobs in Indiana manufacturing components for aircraft wings. 

As I have said and as the President said today, we are fully committed to helping U.S. businesses build things here and sell them everywhere.  The Crosspointe facility is an important example of how we are doing just that, and it was remarkable to have the opportunity to see these efforts in action.

Crosspointe received a $4 million investment from the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to help establish the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM).  Later this summer, the CCAM, an applied research center developed by eight companies, the state of Virginia, and three leading state universities, will open its doors.  This will help bridge the gap from research to product development while supporting the skills that workers need to get good jobs in advanced manufacturing.  In addition, CCAM will form linkages to local community colleges to promote workforce training and high-skilled employment.  The project is expected to create 128 jobs, while at the same time strengthening advanced manufacturing in the immediate area, and generating $22 million in private investment.

National Consumer Protection Week: Spotlight on Fighting Botnets

President Obama declared March 4-10, 2012 as National Consumer Protection Week, building on a coordinated effort that encourages consumers nationwide to take full advantage of their consumer rights and make better-informed decisions. The Commerce Department is using this occasion to showcase the efforts of our Internet Policy Task Force, which is leveraging the expertise of several Commerce bureaus that are aimed at ensuring continued innovation in the Internet economy and preserving consumer trust in Internet commerce and online interactions. In particular, the Task Force continues to move forward in our work to promote new efforts that will lead to improved Internet privacy protection and better security for consumers online.

In September, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security, released Request for Information (RFI) to focus on the growing concern around a specific Internet security risk related to "botnets."

While security risks on the Internet continue to exist in many areas, one increasingly exploited threat is the global rise of botnets. A botnet infection can lead to the monitoring of a consumer's personal information and communication, and exploitation of that consumer's computing power and Internet access. Researchers suggest an average of about 4 million new botnet infections occur every month.

Secretary Bryson Meets with Advanced Manufacturing Partnership Steering Committee

Nanofabrication facility at NIST where manufacturers come to study new ways to make advanced computer chips, nanoscale batteries, and other high-tech products.  Photo credit:  Photo by Kristen Dill

Yesterday, U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson delivered remarks at a meeting of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) Steering Committee. At yesterday’s meeting, held at the White House, the Steering Committee discussed recommendations targeting issues in manufacturing, focusing on technology development, policy, education and workforce development, and shared facilities and infrastructure.

AMP is a collaboration between industry, academia and government leaders to accelerate the development of the U.S. advanced manufacturing sector and to shape the administration’s Advanced Manufacturing Strategy. AMP is guided by a Steering Committee, which is co-chaired by Andrew Liveris, President, Chairman and CEO of the Dow Chemical Company, and Susan Hockfield, President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Their final report will be reviewed by PCAST, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, in April. Though AMP is still at work on the recommendations, several were prioritized for early action and implementation by Secretary Bryson.

National Consumer Protection Week: Spotlight on Trusted Identities

National Consumer Protection Week logo

On Monday, President Obama declared March 4-10, 2012 as National Consumer Protection Week, building on a coordinated effort that encourages consumers nationwide to take full advantage of their consumer rights and make better-informed decisions. The Commerce Department is using this occasion to showcase the efforts of our Internet Policy Task Force, which is leveraging the expertise of several Commerce bureaus that are aimed at ensuring continued innovation in the Internet economy and preserving consumer trust in Internet commerce and online interactions. In particular, the Task Force continues to move forward in our work to promote new efforts that will lead to improved Internet privacy protection and better security for consumers online.

One of the biggest problems facing consumers online is the heavy reliance on usernames and passwords.  Most Internet users are asked to create so many logins and passwords that they have to create coping mechanisms to keep track of them all, from using the same one as often as possible to writing them all down, none of which lead to strong security practices.  In fact, exploiting the inherent weaknesses of passwords was the top method attackers used last year, according to the 2012 Data Breach Investigations Report produced by Verizon.  

NIST Establishes National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence

NIST Establishes National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence

According to a recent industry study, cyber crimes cost the global economy $388 billion annually in both direct financial losses and the value of lost time dealing with the effects of cyber crime. The study found that about 431 million adults are victims of cyber crime each year.

Another recent study found that annual cyber crime costs for larger U.S. companies averaged about $5.9 million each with a 44 percent increase in the number of successful cyber attacks compared to the previous year.

To help organizations better protect themselves from such threats, the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today announced a new partnership to establish the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence.  The Center will operate as a public-private collaboration for accelerating the widespread adoption of integrated cybersecurity tools and technologies. The State of Maryland and Montgomery County, Md., are co-sponsoring the Center with NIST, which will work to strengthen U.S. economic growth by supporting automated and trustworthy e-government and e-commerce.

U.S. Senator for Maryland Barbara Mikulski, Maryland Lt. Governor Anthony Brown and Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett were at NIST in Gaithersburg, Md., today to announce the partnership with Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Patrick Gallagher.