MEMBER SPOTLIGHT | The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

James Warren | Director, Materials Genome Program | Material Measurement Laboratory | National Institute of Standards and Technology

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) was founded in 1901 (as the National Bureau of Standards) and is now part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. NIST is one of the nation’s oldest physical science laboratories. Congress established the agency to remove a major challenge to U.S. industrial competitiveness at the time — a second-rate measurement infrastructure that lagged behind the capabilities of the United Kingdom, Germany and other economic rivals.

Today, NIST has a mission to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life. From the smart electric power grid and electronic health records to atomic clocks, advanced nanomaterials and computer chips, innumerable products and services rely in some way on technology, measurement and standards provided by NIST.

NIST measurements support the smallest of technologies to the largest and most complex of human-made creations — from nanoscale devices so tiny that tens of thousands can fit on the end of a single human hair up to earthquake-resistant skyscrapers and global communication networks.

This computer model shows what happens when you melt graphene sheets in a liquid and then freeze the liquid. The melted graphene sheets crumple like paper into a foam-like substance. This foamy material is potentially useful as filters and sensors (if you coat them) and insulators (since the holes don’t conduct much heat). Each sheet is colored differently to aid the visualization.

Credit: Xia-Wenjie, Ridvan Kahraman/North Dakota State University

“Given MDS-Rely’s focus on the application of data science-informed research to better understand the reliability and lifetime of essential materials, the opportunities for collaboration to achieve our mutual goals is self-evident, and we are excited to be involved with the MDS-Rely program.”

-James Warren 

NIST conducts intramural research and collaborates with organizations around the world in pursuit of mission.  NIST has five major research laboratories: Information Technology, Engineering, Communication Technology, Physical Measurement, and Material Measurement, as well as a user facility, the NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR).  All have portfolios that have some overlap with the goals of MDS-Rely.  For instance, there are considerable overlaps with our Information Technology Laboratory (expertise in data science), our Engineering Laboratory (materials lifetime assessments), and the NCNR (measurement of material structure). However, the strongest synergies with MDS-Rely are found within the Material Measurement Laboratory, where the application of data science techniques to understand the processing and performance of materials is an area of active research across many projects and programs.  There are also substantial efforts in the curation and dissemination of materials data.

Synergistically, in  2011, the US Government unveiled the Materials Genome Initiative (MGI). The MGI seeks to provide the means to reduce the cost and development time of materials discovery, optimization, and deployment.  Given NIST expertise in the integration, curation, and provisioning of critically evaluated data and models, NIST has assumed a leadership role within the MGI. In order to foster widespread adoption of the MGI paradigm both across and within materials development ecosystems, NIST is establishing essential data exchange protocols and the means to ensure the quality of materials data and models. These efforts will yield the new methods, metrologies, and capabilities necessary for accelerated materials development.

NIST works with stakeholders in industry, academia, and government to develop the standards, tools and techniques enabling acquisition, representation, and discovery of materials data; interoperability of computer simulations of materials phenomena across multiple length and time scales; and the quality assessment of materials data, models, and simulations.

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