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6 Materials Science and Engineering Laboratory 53
54 AN ASSESSMENT OF THE NIST MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES: FY 2003 PANEL MEMBERS David W. Johnson, Jr., Agere Systems (retired), Chair Katharine G. Frase, IBM Microelectronics Division, Vice Chair Karla Y. Carichner, Conexant Systems, Inc. Edmund W. Chu, Alcoa, Inc. Michael J. Cima, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Kenneth L. Davis, Motorola Laboratories Lisa Dhar, InPhase Technologies F.W. Gordon Fearon, Dow Corning Corporation Elizabeth G. Jacobs, Texas Instruments Sylvia M. Johnson, NASA-Ames Research Center Thomas X. Neenan, GelTex Pharmaceuticals Lloyd Robeson, Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. King-Ning Tu, University of California, Los Angeles Robert L. White, Stanford University Submitted for the panel by its Chair, David W. Johnson, Jr., and its Vice Chair, Katharine G. Frase, this assessment of the fiscal year 2003 activities of the Materials Science and Engineering Laboratory is based on site visits by individual panel members, a formal meeting of the panel on March 13-14, 2003, in Boulder, Colorado, and documents provided by the laboratory. 1 Department of Commerce, Technology Administration, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Ceramics Divi- sion: FY2002 Programs and Accomplishments, NISTIR 6904, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Md., September 2002. Department of Commerce, Technology Administration, National Institute of Standards and Technol- ogy, Materials Reliability Division: FY2002 Programs and Accomplishments, NISTIR 6905, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Md., September 2002. Department of Commerce, Technology Administration, National Insti- tute of Standards and Technology, Polymers Division: FY2002 Programs and Accomplishments, NISTIR 6906, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Md., September 2002. Department of Commerce, Technology Adminis- tration, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Metallurgy Division: FY2002 Programs and Accomplishments, NISTIR 6907, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Md., September 2002.
MATERIALS SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING LABORATORY LABORATORY-LEVEL REVIEW 55 The mission of the Materials Science and Engineering Laboratory (MSEL) is to work with industry, standards bodies, universities, and other government laboratories to improve the nation's measurements and standards infrastructure for materials. MSEL is organized in four divisions: the Ceramics Division, Materials Reliability Division, Polymers Division, and Metallurgy Division. This chapter provides an assessment of the laboratory overall, and division-level reviews are provided in Chapter 13. MSEL also houses the NIST Center for Neutron Research, which is reviewed in a separate panel report at the end of Chapter 13. The MSEL organization is represented in Figure 6.1. Major Observations The panel presents the following major observations from its assessment of the Materials Science and Engineering Laboratory: · The Materials Science and Engineering Laboratory continues in its tradition of undertaking and executing programs of high technical merit and strong relevance and effectiveness. · The MSEL efforts in homeland security have been exemplary, and the laboratory should now consider extending those studies into a predictive mode. · The panel hopes that control of overhead costs will be successful in stopping the erosion of technical staff and allow the laboratory to maintain its core competencies, its breadth of pursuits that attract high-quality scientists, and its ability to undertake new areas of research. · MSEL has been very successful in leveraging its human resources through collaborations. The panel continues to support judicious use of collaborations, recognizing that many members of the ---rr --- a----------- ---- -- - ------ ------- technical staff are at optimum levels of collaborative efforts. Materials Science and Engineering Laboratory Ceramics Division · Electronic and Optoelectronic Materials · Characterization Methods · Nanotribology · Data and Standards Technology · Nanomechanical Properties Materials Reliability Division (Boulder) · Microscale Measurements · Microstructure Sensing · Process Sensing and Modeling Polymers Metallurgy Division Division · Characterization · Electrochemical and Measurement Processing · Electronics · Magnetic Materials Materials · Biomaterials · Materials · Multivariant Performance Measurement · Materials Methods Structure and · Processing Characterization Characterization · Metallurgical · Dental Materials Processing NIST Center for Neutron Research · Neutron Condensed Matter Science · Research Facilities Operations · Reactor Operations and . . . . ~ngmeenng FIGURE 6.1 Organizational structure of the Materials Science and Engineering Laboratory. Groups are listed under each division and under the NIST Center for Neutron Research.
56 AN ASSESSMENT OF THE NIST MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES: FY 2003 · Increased staff travel between Boulder and Gaithersburg has paid off in better cooperation be- tween the two sites. Funding for such travel should be continued. · The panel is particularly pleased with the effectiveness of efforts in the past year to enhance laboratory safety. · The panel encourages the development of innovative methods for the maintenance, acquisition, and use of capital equipment. Technical Merit The technical quality of MSEL continues at a very high level, as evidenced by its quality contribu- tions and impact on emerging science and technologies, the significant reliance on and use of its databases, practice guides, and Standard Reference Materials by national and international technical communities, and the recognition of its technical advances through numerous scientific awards and publications. The technical competence of staff members remains very high, and their projects often push the state of the art and its applications. The level of accomplishment in the laboratory is quite high relative to that of similar organizations. The laboratory's output is generally excellent in terms of both quality and quantity. The panel continues to be particularly impressed with the outstanding accomplishments achieved by researchers through their effective use of available laboratory resources. The panel noted in particular that the laboratory is making better use of collaborations both within and outside of NIST. This change has had a positive impact on programs, increasing the depth of expertise brought to technical problems and thus increasing the sophistication of the experiments and theory applied to their solutions. Among the many MSEL programs with high technical merit and/or clear impact on national inter- ests, the panel was struck particularly by the following contributions from each division: · The Ceramics Division has provided leadership in maintaining and upgrading crystal structure databases and associated software tools accepted worldwide as universal standards. · The Materials Reliability Division has made improvements in Charpy impact testing and stan- dards that have wide customer support. Significant progress has been made toward setting an interna- tional standard for Charpy impact testing. · The Metallurgy Division has had an impact through the lead-free solder program. This program addresses a worldwide environmental problem and provides the unique and enabling fundamental data that give the United States a competitive advantage in providing a solution. · The Polymers Division has made significant advances in low-k dielectric thin-film nanoporous material characterization. This work supports the pressing needs for electronic materials and standard measurements. Accomplishments such as these are of increased value to U.S. industry given that the level of materials research in industry has been scaled back in recent years. Program Relevance and Effectiveness In addition to the divisional highlights mentioned above, there are numerous programs in MSEL that support the mission and objectives of the laboratory and NIST. Following are examples of such programs and their relevance:
MATERIALS SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING LABORATORY 57 · World Trade Center Program. This program utilizes core competencies of the laboratory to build an understanding of the failure mechanisms in the World Trade Center' s Twin Towers collapse. This understanding of the reaction of building materials to severe conditions and the development of specifications will be of great value in the domestic and foreign building industry. · Biomaterials. The NIST biomaterials effort has the potential to occupy a unique and critically important niche at the interface between materials science and biology, and to be highly relevant in the development of metrology for both commercial and regulatory practices in biotechnology, pharmaccu- ticals, and medicine. While the effort is still in the early stages, it is well timed for the development of several initiatives, and the group's sensitivity toward maintaining integration with its customers is an important aspect of ensuring success. The panel is particularly impressed with the involvement of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) both as a resource and as an authoritative body in the biological field. The panel applauds the MSEL initiative to bring together the materials and biological sciences. The joint NISTINIH postdoctoral program to be initiated this year will serve to strengthen this associa- tion. · Standard Reference Materials. The laboratory's relevance and effectiveness continue to be dem- onstrated through its strong SRM program and the utility that these products find throughout industry. The panel determined that the laboratory is enhancing its relevance and effectiveness through reliance on its strategic plan for the allocation of limited resources to a growing set of national needs. The laboratory is diligent in pursuing its Strategic Focus Areas (SFAs) Nanotechnology, Health Care, Homeland Security, and Information Management which provide a method of unifying individual projects toward a greater goal and providing avenues for new collaboration and growth. The panel commends the laboratory for maintaining a balance between these new focus areas and continued service to its historical constituency groups. The ongoing evaluation process, to prune programs that have ceased to be innovative while maintaining core competency, is important and must be continued. The management team is also encouraged to impart its enthusiasm for these focus areas to all levels of the organization. There is still some skepticism at the bench level concerning the lasting nature of the SFAs. Laboratory Resources Funding sources for the Materials Science and Engineering Laboratory are shown in Table 6.1. In January 2003, staffing for the laboratory included 169 full-time permanent positions, of which 139 were for technical professionals. There were also 55 nonpermanent or supplemental personnel, such as postdoctoral research associates and temporary or part-time workers. Appropriations for NIST are up about 6 percent this year, but because of required salary increases this gain once again essentially translates into a flat budget, and the panel is concerned that it could cause a possible loss of staff. At this point MSEL has the particular expertise that could contribute to the established NIST SFAs such as Homeland Security (nondestructive evaluation of infrastructure), Health Care (tissue engineering), and Nanotechnology. However, because of the steady decline in the number of MSEL staff the laboratory may be unable to step up to these challenges and opportunities. The panel is encouraged to see that the trend toward loss of technical staff is diminishing as a result of the effective control of overhead costs. The laboratory management must remain particularly vigilant in maintaining the expertise and equipment necessary to respond to important opportunities that can contribute to national goals. The panel strongly encourages a systematic approach to the write-off of obsolete equipment and the devel-
58 AN ASSESSMENT OF THE NIST MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES: FY 2003 TABLE 6.1 Sources of Funding for the Materials Science and Engineering Laboratory (in millions of dollars), FY 2000 to FY 2003 Fiscal Year Fiscal Year Fiscal Year Fiscal Year 2000 2001 2002 2003 Source of Funding (actual) (actual) (actual) (July 2003 estimate) NIST-STRS, excluding Competence 30.1 31.3 35.6 38.5 Competence 0.1 0.4 1.3 1.1 ATP 2.7 2.6 2.7 2.4 Measurement Services (SRM production) 0.7 1.0 1.3 1.1 OA/NFG/CRADA 3.9 2.8 3.5 4.5 Other Reimbursable 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.8 Totala 38.1 38.7 45.2 48.4 Full-time permanent staff (total~b'C 178 163 162 169 NOTE: Funding for the NIST Measurement and Standards Laboratories comes from a variety of sources. The laboratories receive appropriations from Congress, known as Scientific and Technical Research and Services (STRS) funding. Compe- tence funding also comes from congressional appropriations but is allocated by the NIST director's office in multiyear grants for projects that advance NIST's capabilities in new and emerging areas of measurement science. Advanced Technology Program (ATP) funding reflects support from NIST's ATP for work done at the NIST laboratories in collaboration with or in support of ATP projects. Funding to support production of Standard Reference Materials (SRMs) is tied to the use of such products and is classified as "Measurement Services." NIST laboratories also receive funding through grants or contracts from other [government] agencies (OA), from nonfederal government (NFG) agencies, and from industry in the form of cooperative research and development agreements (CRADAs). All other laboratory funding, including that for Calibration Services, is grouped under "Other Reimbursable." aThe funding for the NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR) is excluded from these totals. Information about the center's funding is available in the section of this chapter titled "Review of the NIST Center for Neutron Research," which contains the panel review of that facility. bNCNR personnel are excluded from these totals. Information about the center's personnel is available in the section titled "Review of the NIST Center for Neutron Research" in Chapter 13. CThe number of full-time permanent staff is as of January of that fiscal year. Opment of innovative methods for the maintenance, acquisition, and use of capital equipment. An example may be that of soliciting and accepting state-of-the-art characterization tools from the manufac- turers of such equipment. While NIST cannot endorse such equipment, the presence in NIST publica- tions of footnotes describing the equipment used for experimentation may be an incentive for companies to donate or significantly reduce the cost of equipment. Many important MSEL staff members are approaching retirement eligibility; before these individu- als leave, it is crucial to have mentoring and training of new staff in the skills of retiring staff. Junior staff at the laboratory report that the presence of a strong cohort of colleagues is a major reason that they have chosen to work at NIST. If the number of senior personnel continues to decrease, this sense of being surrounded by the best colleagues will diminish, and the laboratory may find it difficult to attract and retain researchers with the skills needed to address important emerging areas of science relevant to NIST's overall priorities. As in last year's report, the panel strongly recommends that management strategy set a priority on ensuring a viable transfer of expertise in its key areas. MSEL has some very good examples of leveraging its human resources through collaborations. Its programs in biomaterials, health care, and homeland security are particularly good examples. These
MATERIALS SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING LABORATORY 59 programs involve collaborations with other laboratories at NIST and with external researchers at other government agencies and in industry. The programs consequently have the potential for far greater accomplishment and impact than if MSEL had attempted to enter the areas on its own. The panel encourages MSEL to continue to use collaborations judiciously to extend the impact of its programs, and it urges MSEL to look for additional areas in which its resources might be so leveraged. MSEL has a unique management challenge because a portion of its staff resides in Boulder, Colo- rado. The laboratory has improved coordination between these sites by imposing few budgetary barriers to team-building travel between the two sites. Not only has this approach improved collaboration between the Boulder and Gaithersburg staff, but it also allows the laboratory to make much better use of the skills resident in Boulder. Some concerns remain within the Boulder community about visibility and recognition by the Gaithersburg management team, and these concerns warrant attention, although the recent visit by the NIST laboratory director was very well received. The management team is also encouraged to find ways to increase the bench scientists' sense of personal responsibility and ownership of the laboratory activities and to encourage them to suggest solutions to organizational as well as technical problems. The panel applauds the decision to hold the 2003 MSEL review meeting in Boulder. This gave the full panel an opportunity to see the researchers and facilities in the Materials Reliability Division. The staff of this division is anxious about the future, with the announced pending retirement of the division chief. The panel noted that the apparent NIST policy or tradition that prevents naming a successor before a position is vacant prevents real succession planning and leads to lapses of management conti- nuity and excessive anxiety in the technical staff. This year has seen efforts to establish closer collaborations between MSEL and KEEL at Boulder. The Materials Reliability Division has established linkages to the Optoelectronics, Radio-Frequency Technology, and Magnetic Technology Divisions of KEEL, which in turn is establishing coordinated efforts with the Ceramics and the Metallurgy Divisions in Gaithersburg. These collaborations have established broad-based units of expertise that will be well poised for the development of new initiatives within the NIST mission. Facilities for the Boulder researchers have improved somewhat but are still problematic and below standards for laboratory space of this sort. The panel is pleased to hear that some funding has finally been appropriated to improve the Boulder buildings and hopes that these or other funds will allow for repairs to prevent the roof leakages that have plagued one of the buildings for a long period of time. Laboratory Responsiveness The nanel found excellent MSEL reL~nonLsiveneL~Ls to its nreviouLs renort.2 In fact 1aLst vear the nanel'Ls _ _ . . . · . . · . . - ~ . ~ _ _ ~ · ~ ~ , , report also mentioned the excellent responsiveness of laboratory managers to the panel' s recommenda- tions and suggestions. For example, senior managers have held sessions concerning nanotechnology and nome~anct security to Cent methods for support of the NIST SFAs in these areas, offsite meetings have been held between technical management and selected staff members to improve communication with respect to the laboratory's priorities, and in almost all cases where specific program focus and direction had been questioned by the panel, the laboratory reexamined its programs and either adjusted , AT ~ ~ ~ ~ A · . 2National Research Council, An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 2002, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 2002.
ales. 60 AN ASSESSMENT OF THE NIST MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES: FY 2003 the focus or terminated the program. The laboratory has also taken a proactive approach to safety in its laboratory facilities, as evidenced by the installation of new safety equipment and the establishment of a staff performance plan to encourage routine safety practices. The panel applauds the laboratory on this responsiveness. Continued attention is needed to more general concerns, such as the potential for subcritical staffing of important programs and the maintenance of key areas of investigation to secure the laboratory's role in the strategic mission of NIST. Similarly, reviewers found the divisions to be very responsive to their previous reports. Responsive- ness is discussed in the division reports in Chapter 13, but a few examples are as follows: · The Polymers Division has phased out some programs in order to focus on emerging technolo- · The Materials Reliability Division has consolidated programs around core competencies and formed centers of excellence. · The Ceramics Division has made recommended strategic hires in nanotribology. · The Metallurgy Division has improved its nanomagnetodynamics program. The laboratory is encouraged to take a greater role in assessing future industry and national needs and in identifying the fundamental scientific questions underlying such needs.