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Blog Category: Technology

Energy House in Delaware Is Retraining and Giving Former Auto Workers a Leg Up in the Job Market

Energy House at Delaware Technical and Community College’s Georgetown campus was built with financial support from the Economic Development Administration.

Guest blog post by Matt Erskine, Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

An impressive new training facility opened this spring at Delaware Technical and Community College’s campus in Georgetown and is expected to retrain former auto workers for new jobs in the emerging green sector. Energy House, designed to resemble an actual residence, serves as an educational lab where these workers can get a new start by learning about innovative energy-efficient technologies and renewable materials. Programs will fill a pressing need to train workers and will help strengthen the economic competitiveness of the Delaware region.

At the green building technology and alternative energy systems training center, students are being trained for the jobs and industries of the future. Participants are being prepared to work as skilled technicians who can install efficient heating and cooling systems and windows; retrofit homes to save electricity; and build and install solar panels, wind turbines, and other clean energy technologies. 

Commerce’s NIST Announces $2 Million for Small Business Innovation Research

A woman operates a prototype of an environmental chamber for humidity control by Measurement Analysis Corp. (Photo © Nicholas McIntosh)

The Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has awarded nearly $2 million in Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awards to 12 U.S. businesses. These awards provide funding to help companies develop technologies that could lead to commercial and public benefit.

"We are delighted by the high quality of SBIR proposals we received, and congratulate all the awardees," said Phillip Singerman, associate director for innovation and industry services at NIST. "Over the past year, NIST updated the solicitation process to focus on critical national priorities and provide maximum opportunities for businesses that are just starting out. With three-fourths of the Phase I recipients in business fewer than 10 years and two-thirds of them with 12 employees or fewer, the results of the solicitation demonstrate the success of that process."

NIST's SBIR program is a competitive funding opportunity that provides contracts to small businesses for federal research and development. In Phase I, small businesses can receive up to $90,000 to establish the scientific or technical merit or feasibility of ideas that support the commercial potential of their research. If after six months the Phase I awardees have accomplished their goals, they can compete for Phase II funding of up to $300,000 to continue their research and development efforts for up to two years.

Read more about the 12 winners and how NIST will provide technical assistance and direct assistance as allowed by the SBIR statute, as well as direct them to additional resources through NIST's Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

BTOP Case Study: Building 21st Century Job Skills in California

In today’s information-age economy, broadband is becoming a necessity for anyone searching for or applying for a job. Many job openings are only posted online. And about 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies only accept applications online. What’s more, in the current job market, digital literacy skills are often a requirement. For example, about 60 percent of working Americans use the Internet as an integral part of their jobs. Yet too many Americans lack the broadband access or skills needed to succeed in the workforce.

To help address this gap, the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, or BTOP, is investing approximately $4 billion in roughly 230 projects to increase broadband access and adoption around the country. The Recovery Act program, which is administered by the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, recognizes that broadband can be a key to economic empowerment.

Commerce Announces Appointment of First-Ever Chief Manufacturing Officer

Portrait of Molnar

The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today announced the appointment of the agency’s first-ever Chief Manufacturing Officer. The manufacturing sector is critical to the U.S. economy, and the Obama administration is committed to building domestic manufacturing capabilities to create the new products, new industries and new jobs of the future. The new position will leverage NIST’s strong relationships with industry to accelerate innovation that will create 21st-century manufacturing jobs and enhance our global competitiveness.

As Chief Manufacturing Officer, manufacturing industry executive Michael F. Molnar will be responsible for planning and coordination of the Institute’s broad array of manufacturing research and services programs and will support the broader Advanced Manufacturing Partnership recently launched by President Obama that brings industry, universities and the federal government together to invest in emerging technologies. NIST is particularly well-positioned to support this goal because of its unique mission to work closely with industry.

Molnar has extensive industrial experience, with past leadership roles in manufacturing technology, advanced manufacturing engineering, metrology and quality systems. He will serve as the central point of contact with the White House, the Department of Commerce and other agencies on technical and policy issues related to manufacturing.

Secretary Locke Speaks with Silicon Valley Leadership Group on Obama Administration's Efforts to Foster Innovation

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke delivered remarks at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG)’s annual luncheon today, emphasizing the steps the Obama administration has taken to turn around the U.S. economy and create jobs. Locke stressed the administration’s efforts to build a stronger foundation for long-term growth and prosperity by investing in research and development, a 21st century infrastructure and manufacturing, and underlined Silicon Valley’s role as the epicenter of technological innovation.

Sec. Locke wanted it to be known that “when it comes to new ideas, our only criterion is efficacy. It doesn’t matter if they come from the left or the right, the boardroom or academia. We simply will not rest until every American who wants a job can find one.”

Locke emphasized that President Obama’s proposed 2011 budget, while freezing domestic discretionary spending overall, actually increases funding for civilian R&D by nearly 6 percent. Also, he noted President Obama’s support a new business tax cut that will allow small businesses to deduct the full amount of new capital investments immediately.

Locke also highlighted President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI), which aims to double U.S. exports over the next five years in support of several million American jobs. The NEI will provide more funding, more focus and more Cabinet-level coordination to increase U.S. exports, and represents the first time the United States will have a government-wide export-promotion strategy with focused attention from the president and his Cabinet.

Remarks

Secretary Locke Announces Initiative to Keep Internet Open for Innovation and Trade at Cybersecurity Forum

Secretary Locke speaking at cybersecurity forum in GeorgetownSpeaking today at the 5th annual Online Trust and Cybersecurity Forum at Georgetown Univeristy, Secretary Locke announced the official launch of an initiative aimed at preserving the global, free flow of information online to ensure that the Internet remains open for commercial opportunity and innovation. This initiative coincides with President Obama's message today in his speech at the U.N. General Assembly in which he reinforced America's commitment to "a free and open Internet."

The Commerce Department is seeking public comment on the extent to which evolving policies from governments around the world may be restricting information on the Internet and inhibiting innovation and economic growth for U.S. companies. The request will seek input from all stakeholders to better understand the types of emerging government policies that restrict online information, how they are adopted, and what impact they have on innovation, job creation, economic development, global trade and investment.


Secretary Locke Co-Chairs U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum in Denver

Secretary Locke and Minister Miguel JorgeU.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and White House Deputy National Security Advisor Michael Froman co-chaired the fifth U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum today in Denver. Joining Locke and Froman as co-chairs was Brazilian Minister of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade Miguel Jorge.  This is the first time the U.S. has hosted the meeting outside of Washington, D.C. 

The U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum discussed critical business issues, including the negotiation of a bilateral tax treaty, customs facilitation and express reform, and energy and infrastructure. The Forum’s recommendations have advanced discussions between the United States and Brazil governments on other important issues such as visas, customs procedures, education and infrastructure reforms. Established in 2007, the U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum is made up of 20 CEOs from the U.S. and Brazil, and meets twice a year to make recommendations to the two governments on ways to strengthen the U.S.-Brazil economic relationship.

CEO Forum meetings were held at the U.S. Department of Energy's Research Support Facility – the nation's largest net-zero energy building designed to showcase energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies – located on the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) campus.  Locke and Froman also toured the Science and Technology Facility on the NREL campus, highlighting the role of public-private partnership in research and development and NREL’s collaboration with Brazilian government and industry.

Following the Forum, the group participated in an event hosted by the 2010 Biennial of the Americas – an international event celebrating the culture, ideas and people of the Western Hemisphere. Throughout the month of July, Denver is welcoming national and international visitors for a cross-cultural experience bridging and unifying the artistic, intellectual and political progress of the hemisphere's 35 nations.  

Remarks

EDA Announces Competition to Bring Innovative Ideas to Market

The i6 Challenge Logo

The i6 Challenge is a new $12 million innovation competition administered by the Economic Development Administration (EDA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce, in partnership with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Science Foundation (NSF). EDA will award up to $1 million to each of six winning teams with the most innovative ideas to drive technology commercialization and entrepreneurship in their regions. NIH and NSF will award a total of up to $6 million in supplemental funding to their SBIR grantees that are associated or partnered with the winning teams. (More) (Press release—PDF)

Secretary Locke Announces NIST to Lead National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education

Locke at podium.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced today at the Business Software Alliance Cybersecurity Forum that the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will coordinate and facilitate the implementation of the Obama administration’s National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE). This initiative expands the government’s cyber security education efforts into a national focus that will establish an operational, sustainable and continually-improving cyber security education program for the public and private sectors focused on sound cyber practices. (More) (Remarks)

Commerce's NIST Issues Landmark Fire Study on Saving Lives and Property

Photo of NIST researchers outside of burning building.

A landmark study issued today by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) shows that the size of firefighting crews has a substantial effect on the fire service's ability to protect lives and property in residential fires. Performed by a broad coalition in the scientific, firefighting and public-safety communities, the study found that four-person firefighting crews were able to complete 22 essential firefighting and rescue tasks in a typical residential structure 30 percent faster than two-person crews and 25 percent faster than three-person crews. (Release) (Report)

NIST Develops Instrument to Detect Poultry Spoilage

NIST logo

Researchers at Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) designed an instrument that quickly and precisely sniffs trace amounts of chemical compounds that indicate poultry spoilage without damaging the product itself. The process can detect minute amounts of spoilage compounds and can be used by suppliers during all stages of processing, transport and storage. Several proactive measures are used in the United States to keep poultry from going bad between the time it leaves the farm to when it reaches the grocery cart. (More)

Deputy Secretary Hightower to Promote U.S. Innovation Agenda During Visit to Brussels

Portrait of Hightower

U.S. Commerce Deputy Secretary Dennis Hightower is in Brussels to promote the president’s National Innovation Strategy as a key driver for sustainable growth and quality jobs. Hightower’s visit will focus on three key building blocks to encourage innovation: investment in research, development and technology capital; promotion of competitive markets, and support for national priorities in the clean energy, advanced vehicle technology and health care sectors. Today, he delivered remarks at a luncheon hosted by the American Chambers of Commerce. (Remarks)

USPTO Seeks Nominees for National Medal of Technology and Innovation Award

National Medal of Technology and Innovation

Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is seeking nominations for the highest honor for technological achievement, the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. The USPTO administers the NMTI program on behalf of the Secretary of Commerce. Honorees are chosen for their outstanding contributions to the nation’s economic, environmental and social well-being through the development and commercialization of technological products, processes and concepts; technological innovation; and development of the country’s technological manpower. The award was created by Congress in 1980. The deadline is March 31. (Nomination form)

NIST, Partners Develop Testing Infrastructure for Health IT Systems

NIST logo.

Fully incorporating modern information technology into the healthcare system promises many benefits, including better quality care, less paperwork and fewer medical errors while reducing unnecessary costs. In any such critical application, however, it’s important to ensure that the new technology behaves as expected. To meet this need in health information technology, a broad array of public and private stakeholders have been working with Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). NIST has released the first of four installments of a new health IT test method and related software. (More)

NIST, NASA Launch Joint Effort to Develop New Climate Satellites

One of the three CLARREO satellites, which will make observations of the energy the Earth absorbs from the sun and radiates back into space. Click for larger imae.

Image: NASA

Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have launched a joint effort to gather enhanced climate data from spaceborne climate observation instruments planned for a group of satellites now under development. The Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) Mission includes a fleet of satellites tentatively scheduled for launch later this decade that will gather data for long-term climate projections. (More)

Secretary Locke Urges Formation of Regional Innovation Clusters to Create Jobs, Encourage Growth

Secretary Locke gesturing from podium.

File photo

U. S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke delivered the keynote address at the “Clustering for 21st Century Prosperity” forum hosted by the National Academy of Sciences. Locke’s remarks focused on the importance of advancing regional innovation clusters to create 21st century jobs. Regional Innovation Clusters (RICs) are a proven way to create jobs and grow the economy. They are geographic concentrations of businesses, government, academic and non-profit institutions that have common needs for talent, technology and infrastructure. (Remarks) (Podcast)

NIST Launches New Competition for Research Facility Construction Grants

NIST logo. Click to go to NIST Web site.

The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced a new competition for grants for the construction of new or expanded scientific research buildings at institutions of higher education and nonprofit organizations. NIST has $50 million available for the cost-sharing grants and anticipates funding three to five projects with grants of $10 to $15 million each. The NIST grants will fund new or expanded facilities for scientific research in fields related to measurement science, oceanography, atmospheric research or telecommunications, the research fields of the Commerce Department’s three science agencies. (More)

Secretary Locke Hosts Forum on Speeding University Research from Lab to Marketplace

Secretary Locke at podium.

File photo

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke hosted a forum today with university leaders, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists on “Catalyzing University Research for a Stronger Economy” to address the critical importance of technology commercialization for America’s economic competitiveness and job creation. Joining Locke at the event were the presidents of several premiere universities, including Stanford, Nebraska, Akron and Kentucky. Locke and participating White House officials listened for suggestions that can improve and accelerate commercialization of federal R&D in university labs. (Remarks)

NIST Issues Expanded Draft of Smart Grid Cyber Security Strategy

NIST logo.

The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has issued the second draft of its Smart Grid Cyber Security Strategy and Requirements, which now identifies more than 120 interfaces that will link diverse devices, systems and organizations engaged in two-way flows of electricity and information and classifies these connections according to the level of damage that could result from a security breach. (More)

Commerce Awards Recovery Act Broadband Expansion Grants Totaling More than $20 Million for Virginia

Recovery Acy logo.

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced two grants totaling more than $21.5 million to expand broadband Internet infrastructure in Virginia. Funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) provides grants to support the deployment of broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas, enhance and expand public computer centers, and encourage sustainable adoption of broadband service. These investments will help bridge the technological divide, boost economic growth and create jobs. (More)

Secretary Locke Promotes Renewable Energy Export Opportunities at RETECH 2010

Secretary Locke.

File photo

A day after unveiling the details of the president’s National Export Initiative, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke urged attendees at the Renewable Energy Technology (RETECH) 2010 Conference to explore the export opportunities available for renewable energy technology that can support good paying jobs in a growing sector. (More) (Remarks)

NIST's Second 'Quantum Logic Clock' is Now World's Most Precise Clock

Image of clock compared to the size of a quarter. Click for larger image.

Physicists at Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have built an enhanced version of an experimental atomic clock based on a single aluminum atom that is now the world’s most precise clock, more than twice as precise as the previous pacesetter based on a mercury atom. The new clock is the second version of NIST’s “quantum logic clock,” so called because it borrows the logical processing used for atoms storing data in experimental quantum computing, another major focus of the same NIST research group. (More)

Secretary Locke Meets with Russia's Economic Minister, Takes Part in MIT Technology Program

Elvira Nabiullina, Russian Minister of Economic Development, and Commerce Sevretary Locke shake hands at July 2009 meeting in Moscow. File photo.

Nabiullina, Locke, July 2009 file photo

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke met with Russia’s Minister of Economic Development Ms. Elvira Nabiullina at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Mass. The two officials, who previously met at the July 2009 Moscow Summit, held their first meeting in their capacities as co-chairs of the Business Development and Economic Relations Working Group under the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission. (More)

NIST Issues First Release of Framework for Smart Grid Interoperability

Satellite image of North America at night showing electrical illumniation and outline of grid. Click for larger image.

Photo: NASA

Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has issued an initial list of standards, a preliminary cyber security strategy, and other elements of a framework to support transforming the nation’s aging electric power system into an interoperable “Smart Grid,” a key component of the Obama administration’s energy plan and its strategy for American innovation. By integrating digital computing and communication technologies and services with the power-delivery infrastructure, the Smart Grid will enable bidirectional flows of energy and two-way communication and control capabilities. (More) (Release)

NIST Awards $27 Million in Recovery Act Grants to Construct New Research Facilities

Artist's drawing of proposed facility at Nova Southeastern Niversity. Click for larger image.

The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has awarded more than $123 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grants to support the construction of new scientific research facilities at 11 universities and one non-profit research organization. With ultimate research targets ranging from off-shore wind power and coral reef ecology to quantum physics and nanotechnology, the 12 projects will launch more than $250 million in new laboratory construction projects beginning early this year. (More)

Secretary Locke Urges New Emphasis on Innovation, R&D, to Increase Competitiveness and Create Jobs

Secretary Locke at podium. Click for larger image.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke met with the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) to discuss approaches to fixing an "innovation deficit" hindering America's ability to develop new businesses and create new jobs. PCAST is an advisory group of the nation’s leading scientists and engineers who provide advice to President Obama, offering insights and policy recommendations concerning a full range of issues in science, technology, and innovation. PCAST is administered by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). (Remarks)

Deputy Secretary Hightower Announces $39.7 Million Investment to Increase Broadband Access in New York

Hightower, Arcuri and SUNY Cortland president Dr. Erik J. Bitterbaum. Click for larger image.

U.S. Commerce Deputy Secretary Dennis F. Hightower and New York Congressman Michael Arcuri traveled to The State University of New York (SUNY) at Cortland to spotlight a $39.7 million Recovery Act grant that will bring broadband Internet service to communities across the state that lack the technology. The investment will help bridge the technological divide, boost economic development, create jobs and improve education and health care. (More) (Remarks)

Demonstration Network Planned for Public Safety 700 MHz Broadband

NIST logo. Click to go to NIST Web site.

Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) have announced plans to create a demonstration broadband communications network for the nation’s emergency services agencies using a portion of the radiofrequency spectrum freed up by the recent transition of U.S. broadcast television from analog to digital technologies. This demonstration network is currently in the preliminary planning stages and is expected to go live in mid-2010. (More)

Secretary Locke to Travel to Copenhagen to Discuss Administration's Commitment to Spur Clean Energy Technology, Reinvigorate the Economy

U.S. COP-15 logo. Click to go to State Department Web site.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke will travel to Copenhagen on Friday to discuss the Obama administration’s commitment to meet clean energy and climate change challenges and the promise clean energy development holds for spurring innovation, reinvigorating the economy and creating jobs. Secretary Locke has been a leading voice in the administration promoting innovation and investment in the clean energy economy. (More) (Commerce COP-15 Web site) (U.S. Center Web site)

Commerce's USPTO to Accelerate Review of Green Technology Patents

Kappos, Locke, Chu and Arun Majumdar anwer questions from the press.

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will pilot a program to accelerate the examination of certain “green” technology patent applications, Secretary Gary Locke announced today. The new initiative, coming days before the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, will accelerate the development and deployment of green technology, create green jobs, and promote U.S. competitiveness in this vital sector. (More) (Remarks) (Energy Announcement)

Glider Completes Historic Crossing: New Technology Advances Climate Understanding

Photo of the Scarlet Knight. Click for larger image.

The first-ever 7,300-mile Atlantic Ocean crossing by an unmanned underwater glider is opening up a new world of ocean technology. A ceremony on Dec. 9 in Baiona, Spain, will celebrate the partnership effort among the U.S. interagency Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) through Rutgers University, NOAA, Puertos Del Estado (Spanish Port Authority), the National Oceanographic Partnership Program, and other European partners. “It is through efforts like this that we will continue to learn more about the wonders of the ocean at a critical time for our planet,” said Richard Spinrad, NOAA assistant administrator for oceanic and atmospheric research. (More)

Secretaries Locke and Chu to Announce Initiatives to Accelerate Green Technology Innovation

Secretaries Locke and Chu at press conference.

File photo

In advance of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, next week, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Energy Secretary Steven Chu will announce new initiatives by their respective agencies to accelerate innovation in green technology, increase America’s competitiveness in this sector, and create jobs. At the Dec. 7 news conference, they will be joined by Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office David Kappos.

NIST Develops Experimental Validation Tool for Cell Phone Forensics

SIM chip image. © kenny1/Shuttercock. Click for larger image.

Image: kenny1/Shutterstock

Viewers of TV dramas don’t focus on the technology behind how a forensics crime team tracks a terrorist or drug ring using cell phone data, but scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) do. NIST researchers have developed a new technique aimed at improving the validation of a crime lab’s cell phone forensics tools. Early experiments show promise for easier, faster and more rigorous assessments than with existing methods. (More) (Report-PDF)

Dr. Patrick Gallagher Sworn In as 14th Director of NIST

Portrait of Director Gallagher

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke swore in Patrick D. Gallagher, Ph.D., as the 14th Director of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). In remarks before hundreds of staff on the NIST campus, Locke said, “We are fortunate to have someone of Pat’s experience and expertise taking the helm at NIST, especially as this administration is working to accelerate the development of new technologies in areas like clean energy and efficiency.” (Remarks) (Director’s bio)

NIST: Small Nanoparticles Bring Big Improvement to Medical Imaging

Human red blood cells, in which membrane proteins are targeted and labeled with quantum dots, reveal the clustering behavior of the proteins. The number of purple features, which indicate the nuclei of malaria parasites, increases as malaria development progresses. The NIST logo at bottom was made by a photo lithography technique on a thin film of quantum dots, taking advantage of the property that clustered dots exhibit increased photoluminescence. (White bars: 1 μm; red: 10 μm.)

Credit: H. Kang / NIST and F. Tokumasu / NIAID

Click for larger image.

A joint research team, working at Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), has discovered a method of using nanoparticles to illuminate the cellular interior to reveal these slow processes. Nanoparticles, thousands of times smaller than a cell, have a variety of applications. One type of nanoparticle called a quantum dot glows when exposed to light. These semiconductor particles can be coated with organic materials, which are tailored to be attracted to specific proteins within the part of a cell a scientist wishes to examine. (More)

Senate Confirms Dr. Patrick Gallagher as 14th NIST Director

Portrait of Gallagher

The U.S. Senate confirmed Dr. Patrick D. Gallagher by unanimous consent last evening as the 14th director of the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Gallagher has worked at NIST since 1993 as a scientist and as a laboratory director. He has carried out the functions of the director in his current position as deputy director since September 2008. President Obama nominated Gallagher, 46, to his new post on September 10, 2009. (More) (Bio)

NIST Test Proves 'The Eyes Have It' for ID Verification

Image of human eye.

The eyes may be the mirror to the soul, but the iris reveals a person’s true identity—its intricate structure constitutes a powerful biometric. A new report by computer scientists at Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) demonstrates that iris recognition algorithms can maintain their accuracy and interoperability with compact images, affirming their potential for large-scale identity management applications such as the federal Personal Identity Verification program, cyber security and counterterrorism. (More)

NIST Signs U.S.-China Cooperative Agreement on Earthquake and Volcano Sciences

NIST Deputy Director Patrick Gallagher and Yin Chaomin, the vice administrator of the Chinese Earthquake Administration, shaking hands while seated at signing table.

In the aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake that occurred in China this past year and its high number of casualties, the U.S. and China have signed a protocol for cooperation on earthquake and volcano sciences. The protocol was signed by the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Science Foundation and Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the U.S., and the Chinese Earthquake Administration and the National Natural Science Foundation of the People’s Republic of China. Shown are NIST Deputy Director Patrick Gallagher and Yin Chaomin, vice administrator of the Chinese Earthquake Administration. (More) (Protocol)

Under Secretary Kappos Awards 600,000th Design Patent

Kappos, Robert Workman CEO of Goal Zero holding plaque, and Hatch. Click for larger image.

Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) David Kappos was joined by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to award design patent number 600,000 to Goal Zero, a subsidiary of Provo Craft and Novelty, and a small business located in Spanish Fork, Utah. The patent was granted for the design of a battery system which works in conjunction with a solar briefcase that recharges the system using sunlight. This patent exemplifies the blending of green technology and appealing design. Shown here between Kappos and Hatch is Robert Walkman, President and CEO of Goal Zero. (More)

New Computer Security Guide Can Help Safeguard Small Businesses

Image of video player. Click to watch a new NIST video explaining the reasons why small businesses should be concerned about safeguarding the information on their computers.

Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has published a guide to help small businesses and organizations understand how to provide basic security for their information, systems and networks. Small Business Information Security: The Fundamentals,by Richard Kissel, teaches computer security to groups of small business owners ranging from tow truck operators to managers of hospitals, small manufacturers and nonprofit organizations. The 20-page guide uses simple, clear language to walk small business owners through the steps necessary to secure their computer systems and data. (More) (Video page) (Guide)

President Obama, Secretary Locke Honor 2008 National Medal of Technology and Innovation Laureates at the White House

Obama applauds recipients. White House photo by Chuck Kennedy. Click for larger image.

White House photo

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke joined President Barack Obama in honoring the 2008 National Medal of Technology and Innovation recipients in a ceremony at the White House. Announcing the recipients Sept. 17, Secretary Locke said, “Innovation is the key to our economic recovery, and the medical and telecommunication advances of the 2008 medalists are truly awe-inspiring.” The award recognizes individuals or companies for their outstanding contributions to the promotion of technology for the improvement of the economic, environmental, or social well-being of the United States. The award was created by Congress in 1980 and has been presented by the President of the United States since 1985. (More) (President’s remarks)

Commerce Department Invests $6 Million in Recovery Act Funding to Spur Innovation, Create Jobs in Bethlehem, Pa.

Secretary responds to questions from the media. Click for larger image.

Photo © Kenny Ek

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and White House Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra will visit Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania at Lehigh University today to discuss job creation, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and the administration’s strategy to spur American innovation. Locke and Chopra also announced a significant new Recovery Act grant for Ben Franklin Technology Partners to expand Ben Franklin TechVentures, its incubator/post-incubator facility. (More) (Remarks)

Secretary Locke Unveils Plan for "Smart Grid" Interoperability

NASA Satellite Photo

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke unveiled an accelerated plan for developing standards to transform the U.S. power distribution system into a secure, more efficient and environmentally-friendly “Smart Grid” and create clean-energy jobs. Produced by Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the document identifies approximately 80 initial standards that will enable the vast number of interconnected devices and systems that will make up the nationwide “Smart Grid” to communicate and work with each other. The draft report, the first phase of NIST’s three-phase approach to develop Smart Grid standards, will be available for public comment and review for 30 days. (More) (Report) (Remarks)

Therapeutic Nanoparticles Offer Potential as Cancer-Killers

NIST logo. Click for image: An iron-centered nanoparticle (left) has a coating of the sugar dextran, whose tendrils prevent groups of the particles from clumping. When tumor cells ingest them (right), the particles still congregate closely enough to share heat when stimulated by a magnetic field, killing the cells. White arrow indicates a red blood cell.

A research team at Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) studying sugar-coated nanoparticles for use as a possible cancer therapy, has uncovered a delicate balancing act that makes the particles more effective than conventional thinking says they should be. In cooperation with The Johns Hopkins University, Dartmouth College, the University of Manitoba and two biopharmaceutical companies, the NIST team has demonstrated that the particles are potent cancer-killers because they interact with one another in ways that smaller nanoparticles do not. Click on NIST logo above for image and description or here. (More)

Secretary Locke Joins President Obama in Announcing National Medal of Technology and Innovation Laureates

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke today joined President Barack Obama in announcing and congratulating the 2008 winners of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. The medal is the nation’s highest honor for technological and scientific achievement. The National Medal of Technology and Innovation was created by Congress in 1980 and has been presented by the President of the United States since 1985. President Obama will present the medals at a White House ceremony on October 7. (More) (White House Press Release)

Secretary Locke Breaks Ground on Major San Diego-Area Recovery Act Project

Shown with shovels in their hands: NIST Deputy Director Patrick Gallagher, Scripps Institution of Oceanography Directo Director Tony Haymet, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, NOAA Chief of Staff Margaret Spring. Click for larger image.

Photo: Robert Monroe/Scripps

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and Mayor Jerry Sanders led a groundbreaking ceremony in La Jolla, Calif., for two new buildings dedicated to ocean science on the campus of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. The project is a major groundbreaking in California under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The buildings are supported by two federal agencies—the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)—and will feature state-of-the-art marine life tanks and cutting-edge science labs. (More) (Remarks)

NIST Submits Master Plan for Gaithersburg Campus

View of Gaithersburg campus. Click for larger image.

Courtesy HDR Architecture, Inc./Steve Hall
© Hedrich Blessing

Planned and potential expansions and new facilities across campus, the addition of 400-500 kilowatts in power from solar panels, and increasing already-heavy employee use of alternative transportation to a daily rate of 40 percent are among the highlights of an updated Master Plan for the Gaithersburg, Md., campus of the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). NIST has delivered its plan to the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), the central planning agency for federal land and buildings in the National Capital Region. (More)

Secretary Locke Statement on President Obama's Intent to Nominate Gallagher as Director of NIST

Portrait of Patrick Gallagher.

President Barack Obama today announced his intent to nominate physicist Patrick Gallagher to be the 14th director of the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Gallagher, 46, is currently the NIST deputy director. “NIST is a unique agency with a strong culture of world-class scientific achievement,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. “Pat Gallagher has come up through the ranks and his continued leadership will be critical to an agency that is central to the nation’s ability to innovate and compete in global markets.” (More) (White House Press Release) (Bio)

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New NIST Trace Explosives Standard Slated for Homeland Security Duty

Bottle of SRM 2905 seen under blue crime scene light and spot of tagged SRM on test paper. Click for larger image.

To aid in searches for explosive materials and persons who have been in contact with them, Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), with support from the Department of Homeland Security, has developed a new certified reference material, Standard Reference Material (SRM) 2905, Trace Particulate Explosives. Compatible with field and laboratory assay methods, the SRM will be helpful in calibrating, testing and developing standard best operating procedures for trace-explosives detectors. (More)

NIST Deploys Experts to Assist In California Fires

Image of tree and house afire. Click for larger image.

File photo

The Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has sent two experts to California to assist in collecting data on structural fire damage in the ongoing Los Angeles Basin fires, also known as the “Station” fire. This fire is a Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) fire, a type that is growing more prevalent as housing developments push into former wilderness areas. Fire researchers are working to understand WUI fire behavior and the effectiveness of current strategies for best reducing risks from such fires. (More)

Who Are You? Mobile ID Devices Find Out Using NIST Guidelines

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A new publication that recommends best practices for the next generation of portable biometric acquisition devices—Mobile ID—has been published by Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Devices that gather, process and transmit an individual’s biometric data—fingerprints, facial and iris images—for identification are proliferating. Previous work on standards for these biometric devices has focused primarily on getting different stationary and desktop systems with hard-wired processing pathways to work together in an interoperable manner. But a new generation of small, portable and versatile biometric devices are raising new issues for interoperability. (More)

Secretary Locke Announces $7.6 Million in Recovery Act Grants to Create Jobs, Boost Development in Four States

Picture of construction site for railway infrastructure improvement. Click for larger image.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced $7.6 million in Economic Development Administration (EDA) American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grants to help four states boost private investment and create new jobs. The grants will: establish a bio-medical manufacturing and business park in Illinois; develop an industrial area in Florida; provide rail service to a technology park in South Carolina and expand an industrial park to accommodate new and existing industry in Michigan.

Novel Temperature Calibration Improves NIST Microhotplate Technology

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Researchers at the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a new calibration technique that will improve the reliability and stability of one of NIST’s most versatile technologies, the microhotplate. The novel NIST device is being developed as the foundation for miniature yet highly accurate gas sensors that can detect chemical and biological agents, industrial leaks and even signs of extraterrestrial life from aboard a planetary probe. (More)

Locke Announces $45 Million in Grants to Accelerate Manufacture and Deployment of Next-Generation Batteries, Vehicles

Photo of Locke and officials at event. Click for larger image.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced three grants to accelerate the manufacturing and deployment of the next generation of U.S. batteries and electric vehicles in America. Ten million dollars will go to Smith Electric; $30 million to Ford Motor Company; and $5 million to Missouri University of Science and Technology. These grants are part of 48 new advanced battery and electric drive projects President Obama announced today that will receive $2.4 billion under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and create tens of thousands of new jobs. (More) (Grants Announcement) (President’s Remarks)

NIST Releases Final Version of New Cybersecurity Recommendations for Government

NIST logo.

The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released its final version of a publication which represents a major step toward building a unified information security framework for the entire federal government. Recommended Security Controls for Federal Information Systems and Organizations was released in draft form for public review in June. “The aim is to provide greater protection for federal information systems against cyber attacks,” said Ron Ross, of NIST’s computer security division. (More)

Secretary Locke Testifies Before Senate Committee to Discuss National Climate Change Policy

Secretary Locke with Director Holdren in background. Click for larger image.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation to discuss the Department’s contributions to national climate policy. Joined by Dr. John Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), Locke testified at a full committee hearing on “Climate Services: Solutions from Commerce to Communities.” The Department of Commerce is a leader in climate change research and monitoring, providing critical data and services to all levels of government and the private sector and helping companies and communities understand and adapt to climate change.

NIST: 'Microfluidic Palette' May Paint Clearer Picture of Biological Processes

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Researchers at Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have created an innovative device called the “microfluidic palette” to produce multiple, steady-state chemical gradients—gradual changes in concentration across an area—in a miniature chamber about the diameter of a pinhead. The tool can be used to study the complex biological mechanisms in cells responsible for cancer metastasis, wound healing, biofilm formation and other fluid-related processes. (More)

NIST Awards $55.5 Million in Grants for New University Research Facilities

NIST logo.

Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced that it was awarding a total of over $55 million in grants to four universities for the construction of new scientific research facilities. The grants, which were funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, are contributing to four major construction projects to build state-of-the-art laboratory facilities devoted to a broad range of research topics, including the study of improved construction techniques to reduce losses from hurricanes, improved technologies for aquaculture, better methods and information to help preserve and maintain marine ecosystems, and advanced physics research in areas such as biophysics and nanoengineering. (More)

NIST's LIDAR May Offer Peerless Precision in Remote Measurements

Image of Earth, Mars, the Moon and  and the sun. Click for video.

By combining the best of two different distance measurement approaches with a super-accurate technology called an optical frequency comb, researchers at Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have built a laser ranging system that can pinpoint multiple objects with nanometer precision over distances up to 100 kilometers. The novel LIDAR (“light detection and ranging”) system could have applications from precision manufacturing lines on Earth to maintaining networks of satellites in perfect formation, creating a giant space-based platform to search for new planets. (More) (Video)

Secretaries Locke and Chu to Travel to China, Focus on Clean Energy Jobs, Business and Technology

Secretaries Locke and Chu at White House press conference.

File Photo

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Energy Secretary Steven Chu will travel to China on Tuesday, July 14. During their four-day visit, the two secretaries will highlight the tremendous potential for mutually beneficial relationships in the clean energy sector. “Today, we are more interdependent with China than at any point in the last 30 years,” Locke said. “The relationship between our two countries is of critical importance, and while great progress has been made in our cooperation on economic, trade and global terrorism fronts, there's much more to do.”

Physicists Find Way to Control Individual Bits in Quantum Computers

Optical lattices use lasers to separate rubidium atoms (red) for use as information “bits” in neutral-atom quantum processors -- prototype devices which designers are trying to develop into full-fledged quantum computers. NIST scientists have managed to isolate and control pairs of the rubidium atoms with polarized light, an advance that may bring quantum computing a step closer to reality. Click for larger image.

Physicists at Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have overcome a hurdle in quantum computer development, having devised a viable way to manipulate a single “bit” in a quantum processor without disturbing the information stored in its neighbors. The approach, which makes novel use of polarized light to create “effective” magnetic fields, could bring the long-sought computers a step closer to reality. A great challenge in creating a working quantum computer is maintaining control over the carriers of information, the “switches” in a quantum processor while isolating them from the environment. (More)

Nanosoccer Robots Ready to Compete in Upcoming RoboCup Games

YouTube video clip of nanosoccer. Click to view 2008 video.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will be serving up “soccer under glass”—the glass of a microscope lens—when nanosoccer makes its second appearance at the RoboCup games at the international competition in Graz, Austria, from June 29 to July 5, 2009. Nanosoccer is a Lilliputian event where computer-driven “nanobots” the size of dust mites challenge one another on fields no bigger than a grain of rice. Viewed under a microscope, the nanobots are operated by remote control and move in response to changing magnetic fields or electrical signals transmitted across the microsized arena. (More)

Vice President Biden, Secretary Locke Announce Expansion of Manufacturing Initiative in Ohio

Ohio Gov. Strickland, Vice President Biden, Secretary Locke seated at table. Click for larger image.

White House Photo

Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced the expansion of the National Innovation Marketplace program, an initiative that will help revitalize supply chains and equip manufacturers to use emerging technology and find new market opportunities. Locke joined Biden, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, and Auto Recovery Director Ed Montgomery at the vice president’s fifth meeting of the White House Task Force on Middle Class Families, reinforcing the administration’s commitment to innovation in American manufacturing. (More) (White House Press Release) (Middle Class Task Force Web Site)

NIST Releases Report on Smart Grid Development

NIST logo.

The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology today released for public review a report* that identifies issues and proposes priorities for developing technical standards and an architecture for a U.S. Smart Grid. The Smart Grid is a planned nationwide network that will use 21st century information technology to deliver electricity efficiently, reliably and securely, while allowing increased use of renewable power sources. The nearly 300-page report, developed and delivered to NIST by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), is available on the NIST Smart Grid Web site. (More)

NIST Seeks Proposals for $20 Million Recovery Act Program

NIST seal. Click to go to NIST home page.

The Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has announced that it is establishing a financial assistance program to help selected institutions develop and implement a NIST measurement science and engineering fellowship program. The new program is funded under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009. "Measurement science and engineering research is critical to fostering innovation," NIST Deputy Director Patrick Gallagher said. "This fellowship program will create jobs and promote long-term investments in the nation's science infrastructure, which is important for future economic prosperity." (More)

One Day Until DTV Transition

On the eve of an historic technological transition to digital television, the focus for the two federal agencies managing the switch is on helping Americans who are at risk of losing their TV signals. The digital TV (DTV) transition began over two decades ago as engineers set an ambitious technological goal: moving broadcast television into the digital age. Efficient digital technology would provide consumers with a better picture and sound and more channels, while at the same time clearing valuable airwaves to meet the explosive demand for advanced wireless services, including first-responder radio. (More) (6-10 C-SPAN White House video and Transcript)

NIST, DOD, Intelligence Agencies Join Forces to Secure U.S. Cyber Infrastructure

Image of computer keyboard keys.

Photo: Shutterstock

Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), in partnership with the Department of Defense (DOD), the Intelligence Community (IC), and the Committee on National Security Systems (CNSS), has released the first installment of a three-year effort to build a unified information security framework for the entire federal government. Historically, information systems at civilian agencies have operated under different security controls than military and intelligence information systems. This ongoing effort is consistent with President Obama’s call for “integrating all cybersecurity policies for the government” in his May 29 speech on securing the U.S. cybersecurity infrastructure. (More)

USPTO: Collegiate Inventors Competition Deadline Nears

Collegiate Inventors Competition logo.

The Commerce Department’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), a presenting sponsor of the annual Collegiate Inventors Competition (CIC) reminds the public of the upcoming entry deadline. The CIC is a national competition designed to encourage college and graduate students to be active in science, engineering, mathematics, technology, and creative invention. This prestigious challenge recognizes and rewards the innovations, discoveries, and research by college and university students and their advisors for projects leading to inventions that may have the potential to receive patent protection. Entries must be submitted on the official application form and be postmarked by June 16, 2009. (More)

NIST Delivers Updated Draft Standards for Electronic Voting Machines

Image of electronic voting machine.

The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) delivered to the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) a draft revision to the 2005 federal Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG) Version 1.0, specifying how electronic voting machines are built and tested. “The guidelines announced today are designed to further improve the quality and efficiency of the testing conducted on voting systems,” said John Wack, NIST voting team manager. “This enables improvements to be made sooner rather than later when the next full set of standards is finalized.” (More)

USPTO: May 29 Last Day for National Medal of Technology and Innovation Nominations

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The Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is seeking nominations for the nation’s highest honor for technological achievement. The USPTO administers the NMTI program on behalf of the Secretary of Commerce. The deadline for nominations is May 29, 2009. Honorees are chosen for outstanding contributions to the nation’s economic, environmental and social well-being through the development and commercialization of technological products, processes and concepts; technological innovation; and development of the country’s technological manpower. (More)

NIST Defining the Expanding World of Cloud Computing

Image of laptop computer.

Photo: Shutterstock

A working definition for cloud computing—a new computer technique with potential for achieving significant cost savings and information technology agility—has been released by a team of computer security experts at Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Since the federal government is considering cloud computing as a component of its new technology infrastructure, it is NIST’s role to evaluate it and then promote its effective and secure use within government and industry by providing technical guidance and developing standards. (More)

New Study: Home Energy Savings Are Made in the Shade

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Trees positioned to shade the west and south sides of a house may decrease summertime electric bills by 5 percent on average, according to a recent study of California homes by researchers from Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The first large-scale study of its kind, the research paper considers the effects of shade on 460 single-family homes in Sacramento during the summer of 2007 and provides hard statistics showing how well-placed shade trees can reduce energy costs and atmospheric carbon as well. (More)

Researchers Give High Marks to New Technology for Fingerprint Identification

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Overworked crime scene investigators can take heart at the results of recent tests at Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) of new technologies that automate the manual portion of latent fingerprint identification. Prototype systems evaluated by NIST performed surprisingly well for a developing technology: half of the prototypes were accurate at least 80 percent of the time and one had a near perfect score. Automating the manual portion of the work frees up time for trained examiners to spend time on very difficult images that the software has little hope of processing. (More)

Vice President Biden and Secretary Locke Outline Funding for Smart Grid Initiatives

Vice President Biden and Commerce Secretary Locke at podium. Click for larger image.

Vice President Joe Biden, on a visit to Jefferson City, Mo. with U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, detailed plans by the Department of Energy to develop a smart, strong and secure electrical grid, which will create new jobs and help deliver reliable power more effectively with less impact on the environment to customers across the nation. As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Vice President and Secretary outlined plans to distribute more than $3.3 billion in Smart Grid technology development grants and an additional $615 million for Smart Grid storage, monitoring and technology viability. (White House Release) (Secretary’s Remarks)

NIST Announces Three-Phase Plan for Smart Grid Standards, Paving Way for More Efficient, Reliable Electricity

Image of electricity-producing wind farm. Click for larger image.

Photo: Shutterstock

As part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to moving the nation toward energy independence, the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced a three-phase plan to expedite development of key standards for a Smart Grid, a nationwide network that uses information technology to deliver electricity efficiently, reliably and securely. The recently passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) contains investments critical to spurring the Smart Grid development process. The Smart Grid will allow wind farms to send their energy farther from their source. (More) (NIST Recovery Act Information)

USPTO Seeks Nominees to Public Advisory Committees

USPTO seal.

The Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is seeking nominations for the Patent Public Advisory Committee and the Trademark Public Advisory Committee. The committees advise the agency on a wide variety of policy and budgetary issues. Members are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the Secretary of Commerce. Member’s terms run for three years. Those appointed must have “substantial backgrounds and achievement in finance, management, labor relations, science, and technology and office automation.” (More)

NIST Improves Microscope's Stability for Nanomanufacturing Biology

Ian an atomic force microscope (AFM), force is measured by a laser beam, yellow in this artist's rendition. AFM photo.

Photo: G. Kuebler/JILA/CU

A research team from the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado has improved by 100 times the stability of a workhorse tool in nanotechnology, known as the atomic force microscope, potentially improving a wide range of areas from nanomanufacturing to biology, where sensitive, atom-scale measurements must be made at room temperature in liquids. (More)

Safer Net Surfing is Goal of NIST Domain Name Security Experts

Image of user log-on screen.

When you type www.irs.gov—or the Web address of your bank or an e-commerce site—into your web browser, you want to be sure that no one is hijacking your request and sending you to a bogus look-alike page. You’re relying on the integrity of the Internet’s “phone book,” the Domain Name System (DNS). Computer scientists at Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are playing a major role in making sure that what you type is what you get by providing standards, guidance and testing necessary to bolster the trustworthiness of the global DNS. A draft update of NIST’s guidelines for DNS security is now available for public comment. (More)

NIST: Updated Recommendations for Protecting Wireless, Remote Access Data

NIST logo.

Telecommuting has freed many to work far from the confines of the office via laptop, but the price of working while sipping a latte at that sunny café is the danger that a public network will not keep the data that passes through it safe. Now, to combat the risk inherent in remote access, Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has updated its guide on maintaining data security while teleworking. The revised guide offers advice for protecting the wide variety of private and mobile devices from threats that have appeared since the first edition appeared in August 2002. (More)

USPTO Seeks Nominees for National Medal of Technology and Innovation Award

Image of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.

Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is seeking nominations for the highest honor for technological achievement, the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. The USPTO administers the NMTI program on behalf of the Secretary of Commerce. Honorees are chosen for their outstanding contributions to the nation’s economic, environmental and social well-being through the development and commercialization of technological products, processes and concepts; technological innovation; and development of the country’s technological manpower. The National Medal of Technology and Innovation was created by Congress in 1980. (More)

National Inventors Hall of Fame Announces 2009 Inductees

Acting USPTO Director John Doll, back row second from the left with 2009 Inventor Hall of Fame inductees from left to right: John Macdougall (ion implantation),, Larry Hornbeck (digital micromirror device), George Heilmeier (liquid crystal display) Front row, left to right: Dov Frohman-Bentchkowsky (EPROM), Alfred Cho (molecular beam epitaxy), Ken Manchester (ion implantation). Click for larger image.

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the integrated circuit, Commerce’s U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Director John Doll joined members of Congress and officials of the National Inventors Hall of Fame this week to announce the 2009 class of inductees. All those recognized are inventors of advances related to or enabled by integrated circuit technology. Ten living and five deceased innovators will be inducted at a ceremony at the Computer Museum in Mountain View, Calif. on May 2. An exhibit honoring the inductees is currently on display in the atrium of the Madison Building on the USPTO campus in Alexandria, Va. (More)

NIST, Brookhaven Researchers Use Tuberculosis Bacteria to End 25-Year Quest

The bacterium behind one of mankind's deadliest scourges, tuberculosis, is helping researchers at the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) move closer to answering the decades-old question of what controls the switching on and off of genes that carry out all of life's functions. In a Journal of Biological Chemistry paper, the NIST/BNL team reports that it has defined—for the first time—the structure of a "metabolic switch" found inside most types of bacteria. (More)

NIST Participates in National Fire Safety Experiments

Image of a firefighter on ladder with building smoke.

International Association of Fire Fighters

This week, the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is contributing its expertise in measurement science to a series of national fire safety experiments examining the effect of firefighting crew sizes and equipment arrival times on the growth rates of fires and survivability times in structure-related building fires.Data from these experiments will help governments make informed decisions to better match their resources with the risks to the public and firefighters in their communities. (More)

NIST Studies Making Cooling Systems More Efficient and Economical

Graphic depicting conventional and magnetic refrigeration cycles. Click here for larger image.

A refrigerator’s humming, electricity-guzzling cooling system could soon be a lot smaller, quieter and more economical thanks to an exotic metal alloy discovered by an international collaboration working at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)’s Center for Neutron Research (NCNR). The alloy may prove to be a long-sought material that will permit magnetic cooling instead of the gas-compression systems used for home refrigeration and air conditioning. (More)

NIST Issues New Guide to Protecting Personal Information

NIST logo.

Thefts of personally identifiable information (PII), such as social security and credit card account numbers, are increasing dramatically. Adding to the difficulty of fighting this problem, organizations often disagree on what PII is, and how to protect it. Now, in a first-of-its-kind publication, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has issued a draft guide on protecting PII from unauthorized use and disclosure. “You can’t protect PII unless you can identify it,” says NIST’s Erika McCallister, a co-author of the new work. (More)