The nine divisions that comprise the NIST Physical Measurement Laboratory (PML) are in either Boulder, Colorado, or Gaithersburg, Maryland. The Boulder campus of NIST includes four divisions—Applied Physics, Quantum Electromagnetics, Time and Frequency, and Sensor Sciences.1 A fifth division, Quantum Physics, is located on the campus of the University of Colorado, Boulder. The balance of the nine divisions are located in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and include Engineering Physics, Quantum Measurement, Radiation Physics, and Weights and Measures. The divisions themselves are further made up of groups; this report discusses the science in four of the groups located in Boulder that were specifically the subject of the present review.
APPLIED PHYSICS DIVISION
One of the four divisions in Boulder, the Applied Physics Division has the mission to advance measurement science and technology throughout the electromagnetic spectrum in areas of critical importance to national priority needs. These areas include advanced manufacturing, national security, biological innovations, climate change science, and clean energy. The division provides industry, and its suppliers and customers, with comprehensive measurement capabilities and standards, as well as traceability to those standards.2 Its groups are as follows:
- Advanced Microwave Photonics,
- Faint Photonics,
- Fiber Sources and Applications,
- Magnetic Imaging,
- Molecular and BioPhotonics,3
- Quantitative Nanostructure Characterization,
- Quantum Nanophotonics, and
- Sources and Detectors.
QUANTUM ELECTROMAGNETICS DIVISION
The Quantum Electromagnetics Division (Boulder) has the mission to provide the metrological foundation for strategic, emerging electronic, magnetic, and photonic technologies by developing high-precision measurement devices, systems, standards, and methodologies and disseminating them to address national needs. The group interacts and collaborates with stakeholders in industry, academia, and other government agencies to ensure that responsiveness to their measurement needs in quantum electrical standards; advanced materials analysis using X-ray sensor arrays; superconducting electronics
1 The Sensor Science Division, although located in Boulder, Colorado, was not reviewed. It includes the following groups: Fluid Metrology Group, Optical Radiation Group, Remote Sensing Group, Thermodynamic Metrology Group, and Ultraviolet Radiation Group.
3 Was located within the Quantum Electromagnetics Division at the time of the panel’s review.
and nanomagnetics for high-speed, energy-efficient, future-generation computing; and quantitative medical diagnostic imaging.4 Its groups include the following:
- Nanoscale Spin Dynamics,
- Quantum Processing,
- Quantum Sensors,
- Spin Electronics, and
- Superconductive Electronics.
TIME AND FREQUENCY DIVISION
The Time and Frequency Division (Boulder) maintains the standard for frequency and time interval for the United States, provides official time to the United States, and carries out a broad program of research and service activities in time and frequency metrology.5 The division’s research and metrology have three major thrusts: (1) accurate and precise realization of UTC (Coordinated Universal Time), (2) a range of measures to disseminate this time, and (3) research and technology development.6 Its groups are as follows:
- Atomic Devices and Instrumentation Group,
- Atomic Standards Group,
- Ion Storage Group,
- Optical Frequency Measurements Group,
- Time and Frequency Metrology, and
- Time and Frequency Services.
QUANTUM PHYSICS DIVISION
The Quantum Physics Division, located on the campus of the University of Colorado, Boulder, at a joint institute, JILA, performs experimental and theoretical research and innovation advancing fundamental measurement science through quantum optics, quantum degenerate gases of atoms and molecules, quantum many-body physics, chemical physics, biophysics, and nanoscale quantum science.7 Its functional research and training focus areas are as follows:
- Quantum Information Science and Technology,
- Precision Measurement,
- Laser Physics,
- Chemical Physics,
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and
5 Adapted from NIST, “Time and Frequency Division,” available at https://www.nist.gov/pml/time-and-frequency-division, accessed September 27, 2018.
6 Adapted from C. Oates, 2018, Time and Frequency (688) Report 2018, NIST, Boulder, Colo.
SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL RELEVANCE
Adding together the contributions of both the Gaithersburg and Boulder branches, PML develops and disseminates the national standards of length, mass, force and shock; acceleration; time and frequency; electricity; temperature; humidity; pressure and vacuum; liquid and gas flow; and electromagnetic, optical, microwave, acoustic, ultrasonic, and ionizing radiation. Activities range from fundamental measurement research through provision of measurement services, standards, and data. PML applies its measurement capabilities to problems of national significance through collaborations with industry, universities, professional and standards setting organizations, and other agencies of government. PML supports the research community in such areas as communication, defense, electronics, energy, environment, health, lighting, manufacturing, microelectronics, radiation, remote sensing, space, and transportation.
PML establishes spectroscopic methods and standards for infrared, visible, ultraviolet, x-ray, and gamma-ray radiation; investigates the structure and dynamics of atoms, molecules, and biomolecules; develops the electrical, thermal, dimensional, mechanical, and physical metrology for measuring the properties of precision measurement devices and exploratory semiconductor, quantum electronic, nanoelectronic, bioelectronic, biooptical, optoelectronic, and quantum information devices and systems; and examines the thermophysical and interfacial properties of streams of flowing fluids, fluid mixtures, and solids.
It develops and disseminates national standards by means of calibrations, measurement quality assurance, standard reference materials, technology transfer, education and training, and a comprehensive weights and measurement program to promote uniformity and accuracy at the international, federal, state, and local levels.
It generates, evaluates, and compiles atomic, molecular, optical, ionizing radiation, electronic, and electromagnetic data in response to national needs, measures and improves accuracy of the fundamental physical constants, and develops and operates major radiation sources for measurement science and metrology.