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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Physics Laboratory: Fiscal Year 2008
there is a concern if funding for these outside employees decreases.
Most of the major equipment used by the group is old and in need of replacement. A serious problem arises from the fact that newer equipment would have to be housed in heavily radiation shielded bunkers, whereas the group is housed in an older building whose shielded facilities do not meet current needs. This is a major issue which may require that a new building be constructed.
The mission of the Radioactivity Group is to develop new technologies for the accurate measurement of radioactivity for various applications. This mission includes the development of standards for research, for the determination of very low levels of radioactivity, and for biological medical applications. The group develops methodology for all the applications given in the mission statement and the application of these techniques to service projects in which the NIST staff coordinate with the scientific community.
The range of projects is very broad and includes the development of accurate counting techniques (an automated ion chamber, an anti-coincident system, a gamma spectroscopy system, and various low-level counting techniques). Cutting-edge techniques for radionuclide metrology are being developed and applied to the quantification of standard reference materials. A final area is in the field of nuclear medicine. In this rapidly expanding field, various applications particularly applied to positron emission tomography (PET) and positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) are being developed.
A significant fraction of the effort of this group is working with outside users in a service mode.
In several areas, extra staffing is required because several key scientists are approaching retirement age. Extra staffing is needed particularly in the nuclear medicine area.
In order for the Radioactivity Group to work at the forefront of the various areas, leading-edge equipment, including a PET/CT facility, should be available. Future research might be done using an animal scanner, although justifications and protocols should be reviewed and approved by the appropriate committees before the acquisition of such a system is initiated.
Neutron Interactions and Dosimetry Group
The mission of the Neutron Interactions and Dosimetry Group includes both fundamental research and service activities. The research is anchored in precision measurements with neutrons of fundamental physical constants and data that address issues such as the neutron lifetime, the strength of underlying weak couplings, and tests of symmetry violation such as parity and time reversal. The applications range from neutron tomography and imaging to neutron calibrations. The balance between fundamental research and service activities is approximately equal. While the research makes use of a variety of NIST instruments, the key facility used is the seven neutron beam lines that the group operates at the NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR)