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Article - November 2001
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Len Damiano
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NIST Selects EBTRON for their New Advanced Measurement Labs


In order to provide the level of environmental control required by NIST, the space pressurization and ventilation for the interior of the labs demanded dependable and consistent airflow and temperature inputs. 

The National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) is a non-regulatory federal agency within the U.S. Commerce Department's Technology Administration. For almost 100 years, the National Institute of Standards and Technology has developed the measurements and standards necessary for the United States to excel in technology innovation. Their scientists and engineers can locate and manipulate single atoms on a surface; detect ultra-trace amounts of chemical agents; and measure the many optical, physical, and quantum properties of components for telecommunications devices, semiconductor chips, and magnetic recording devices.

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Deteriorating conditions in NIST's older lab facilities are limiting the quality, accuracy, and productivity of many of these efforts. To continue to respond to U.S. science and industry's needs for more sophisticated measurements and standards in the face of heightened global competition, NIST needed one of the most technologically advanced buildings in the world-an Advanced Measurement Laboratory, or AML. Economic evaluations concluded that the best way to provide needed air cleanliness, vibration, isolation, electrical power quality, and temperature and humidity control was not to renovate existing structures, but to build the AML on existing property within the Gaithersburg, MD campus.

CatNet Systems Compared to the existing NIST laboratory buildings, most of which were built in the 1960s, the AML will dramatically reduce vibration to sensitive experiments measuring atomic distances of just a few nanometers (billionths of a meter). The AML will provide superior vibration, temperature and humidity control, and air cleanliness. Compared to the existing NIST laboratory buildings, most of which were built in the 1960s, the AML will dramatically reduce vibration to sensitive experiments measuring atomic distances of just a few nanometers (billionths of a meter).

Like vibration, temperature fluctuations can disturb the results of very sensitive measurements. "Standard" AML laboratories will provide temperature control of ± 0.25 degree Celsius with "Specialized" labs providing ± 0.10 degree Celsius and ± 0.01 degree Celsius temperature control to meet the stringent scientific requirements. Air inside the building will be HEPA filtered to provide very good air cleanliness so dust or other stray particles will not foul measurements on atomic-scale devices. A special Class 100 clean room wing will provide air cleanliness needed for more sensitive research.

EBTRON began working with the primary mechanical design engineer (HDR Architecture) on the initial concept in 1993. In order to provide the level of environmental control required by NIST, the space pressurization and ventilation for the interior of the labs demanded dependable and consistent airflow and temperature inputs. Having successfully satisfied the preliminary control tests in lab mock-ups, the project's management felt secure that we provided the best solution for real-time inputs.

Having tried throughout the Clinton-years to get the appropriations required for construction, NIST began construction in earnest in 2000, breaking ground just before the end of the year. With the time that lapsed since the project's inception, things change, especially in electronics. During these 8 years, we developed its 3rd and 4th generation of Thermal Dispersion products. The later one identified as the Advantage product line, incorporating Motorola's latest Digital DNA™ processors.

The new Advantage product line by EBTRON offered just what the designers and owners were looking for: 

To insure that NIST would not be penalized for the extended time required by the preliminary phases to construction, the design engineer requested to substitute this state-of-the-art equipment for that originally specified. NIST project management approved the request and as they say, the rest is history.

The total order received  includes 377 ea. model GTA116-PC ducted probe systems, with about 10% in 316SS. All are expected to be delivered before the 2nd Quarter of 2002.

The AML will house a wide variety of laboratory research from NIST's technical units. The most sensitive experiments deemed to have the greatest need for special environmental controls and the highest impact will be selected to relocate to the AML. When occupied by Gaithersburg researchers in 2004, it will dramatically improve NIST's ability to provide U.S. industry and science with the best measurements and standards in the world.

You can watch the progress of this project at the following special NIST web site: http://aml.nist.gov/.

AML Project Specifications 


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