New NIST Boulder Laboratory to Offer World-Class Performance
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is building a new advanced research and measurement laboratory on its campus in Boulder, Colo. The Precision Measurement Laboratory (PML) will help NIST better meet the needs of U.S. industry and science in key national priority areas such as nanotechnology, new energy sources, enhanced telecommunications, and radically new information technology such as quantum computers. Designed as an extension to the existing Building 1 on the Boulder campus, the laboratory will be one of the most advanced in the world.
NIST scientists need the new facilities for precision research such as measuring properties of individual atoms, building new atomic clocks that would have to run for billions of years before they would gain or lose even one second, and exquisitely controlling individual particles of light (photons). NIST is the nation’s source for the most demanding measurements, standards, data, and tools, which enable U.S. companies and universities to lead the world in innovation and promote economic growth.
Technological advances depend on increasingly complex and difficult measurements. NIST Boulder researchers routinely measure dimensions on the nanoscale (the size of a few atoms). At these levels, even tiny fluctuations in temperature, humidity, air quality, and vibration can distort results. The existing lab facilities—more than 50 years old—cannot provide the required environmental controls. NIST Boulder research and measurement activities lose at least 20 percent in productivity because of inadequate laboratory conditions. The measurements and research needed to support future innovations will not be possible at all in the older labs.
The PML will enable NIST Boulder to fulfill its mission to address the nation’s measurement and research needs for the 21st century. The new laboratory will meet exacting requirements in vibration isolation, temperature and humidity control, air cleanliness, and electrical power quality. It will be on par with the top research facilities in the world and will add a unique new resource to the already rich scientific environment of the Boulder area.
Construction was started in late 2008 and is expected to be completed in early 2012.
When NIST Boulder was dedicated in 1954, the transistor had just been invented, and lasers did not yet exist. Most of the NIST Boulder laboratory buildings date from that era and are inadequate for today’s demanding research and measurement needs. The new PML facilities will offer much tighter control of environmental conditions and increase the total amount of NIST Boulder laboratory space by about one-third. A few examples of the benefits of the advanced lab space:
NIST is committed to working with the local Boulder community to minimize disruptions during construction and to ensure the new laboratory fits well into the community and surroundings. NIST will use green building techniques whenever possible in the construction and operation of the new laboratory.
For further information, visit: www.nist.gov.
Contact: Kent Rochford, Technical Leader, NIST Boulder Laboratories firstname.lastname@example.org (303) 497-5285