The Electronic Kilogram project aims to use a watt balance apparatus to define the unit of mass via fundamental electrical measurements. The goal is to provide an alternative to the artifactual kilogram standard, since observable differences exist between the artifactual kilograms maintained throughout the world. The project leverages a number of NIST’s established world-class capabilities to develop a new measurement method that has the potential to significantly advance the state of the art in realization of fundamental SI units.
An ambitious effort to realize quantum computing is an example both of world-class technical excellence and goal-driven research. The effort utilizes NIST’s existing leadership in laser cooling and trapping of atomic and ionic species to drive toward creation of memory devices based on quantum effects. The team has already achieved a 4-qubit entangled state and has in place a clearly defined goal of reaching a 10-qubit state by 2005. While this is a highly speculative effort, the importance of quantum computing, should it ever be realized, to both U.S. commerce and defense requires that the United States be the leader in this area. NIST has in place a team uniquely qualified to pursue this research.
NIST’s ability to perform high-accuracy ultraviolet (UV) index-of-refraction measurements has been used to help solve a key materials issue blocking the development of 157-nm optical lithography. Based on index-of-refraction measurements made by NIST, barium fluoride has been identified as a color-correcting second material that could be combined with calcium fluoride to produce the required material properties at the desired wavelength for 157-nm lenses. NIST staff also made excellent progress on extending calibration services for the excimer lasers used in high-resolution lithography to 157 nm. NIST is the only laboratory working on these deep-UV standards. Indeed, 157-nm services could have applications beyond simple measurement tasks. The technique being developed may enable a more homogenous laser beam, which would improve overall photolithography resolution.
In the past year NIST has made substantial progress on a two-dimensional grid artifact Standard Reference Material (SRM), which should ultimately enable the most accurate, traceable feature placement standard for photomask lithography.
A major success of the past year is the selection of the Rijndael algorithm as the draft Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). NIST announced this choice after an international competition in which the stability, security, and performance of a number of proposed algorithms were examined by cryptographers around the world. NIST effectively managed this process by testing candidates, hosting several international conferences, and providing a forum for public analysis of the options. NIST staff led what was widely perceived as an open and fair process. Computer security is a critical issue for government and industry, and NIST’s contribution provided the encryption user community with a strong, stable, generally accepted standard to meet current and future security needs.
The Board and its panels again found that many NIST programs are targeted effectively at real technical needs of U.S. industry. Many of these impacts are not readily seen because of the infrastructural nature of NIST’s work. Several examples of higher profile impact are given here.
In the fall of 1999, industry realized that conflicts existed between two standards for wireless devices operating in the 2.4-GHz band. NIST took an important leadership role in answering technical questions related to reconciling these standards. NIST performed modeling and developed tools to simulate the interference effects that may occur between devices designed to two different standards. Its