Recommended New Directions
One potential research component of the Optoelectronic Division’s biophotonics effort could provide a substantial contribution to national needs. EEEL should give the division some exploratory funding to understand the issues and needs in biophotonics.
Single-photon detectors could also serve as a link to metrology at the quantum level. Detection at the scale of single photons should be particularly useful for radiometric measurements. Additional efforts looking at the use of single-photon detection should be undertaken.
There is an emerging interest in the wireless and antenna research to make use of reverberation chamber techniques. Some quantification of parameters and recommended measurement processes should be agreed on by the researchers on this subject.
The commendable and continuous focus on uncertainty and error characterization should be encouraged. NIST needs to be seen as the leader by example for this activity, especially in those technical areas in which uncertainty characterization is less well developed.
EEEL should increase awareness of metrological needs in emerging technologies. Emerging wireless systems such as WiFi, WiMax, and cellular systems are one such opportunity.
The quantum dot single-photon detector is a good example of the strength of the various quantum programs at NIST. This device integrates the design and fabrication capabilities for quantum dots with the need for single-photon detection. The device structure looks promising for a semiconductor-based device. The current device, however, is not based on an indium phosphide (InP) platform, which would be suitable for use at 1550 nm.
A symposium on optical fiber measurements is no longer organized by EEEL. Perhaps EEEL personnel, working with the Optical Fiber Communications Conference, could help to present a symposium on this topic at the conference.
The research staff routinely develops unique, patentable works. Given its responsibility for disseminating the research work, EEEL should reexamine its intellectual property and licensing practices. In particular, linkage should be strengthened between the optoelectronics terahertz program and commercial concerns. The blackbody calibration source is another possible candidate for licensing.
New investments need to be made in areas of core competencies, even if those investments are not high-profile. Every effort should be made to invest in core areas as well as new areas when the opportunities arise.
The Electromagnetics Division may have overlooked an opportunity—namely, that metrology for the complex modulated signals used by cell phones and the communications industry is absent or nascent. This seems to be an important direction for EEEL to move into.
SED should take a critical look at how its system-on-a-chip project is differentiated from similar activities at universities or in the private sector. It might be time to transfer this technology to a company that can make a product.
The Optoelectronics Division should consider adding projects on promising new photonic technologies such as organic photonics, including organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs). Perhaps this effort could be coupled with the ongoing effort in the display group.
There are some specific opportunities for further leveraging existing projects. One example is the coupling between the Semiconductor Electronics Division and the work in the Electromagnetic Division on spintronics (specifically, microwave oscillators). Some attempt should be made to understand the relevant performance parameters of the device and the circuits
such devices might eventually be applied to. This would happen much more readily if there were an ongoing discussion between these two groups. Additional opportunities might arise by involving the Time and Frequency Division as well. Perhaps CNST and/or OMP can offer some leadership in this collaboration.
Emerging wireless systems such as WiFi, WiMax, and cellular systems utilize multiple antennas to transmit and receive signals for better channel capacity and user coverage. However, there are very few metrology techniques in this field to help the design and performance evaluation of this class of antennas. EEEL should increase its participation in evolving wireless antenna technology and the exploration of new metrology techniques and testing facilities (such as reverberation chambers). EEEL personnel should also proactively engage in the roadmapping activities of these emerging wireless standard bodies to forecast and develop critical metrology techniques for future industry needs.
EEEL is currently leading the calibration of scattering parameters with vector network analyzers extending to millimeter-wave frequencies. As the frequency of operation approaches the terahertz regime, many components and systems will be based on quasi-optical concepts. EEEL could build on its expertise at lower RF frequencies and in the optical regime to lead in this emerging measurement area.