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 April 2005 Global Notebook

NIST and ANSI to Sponsor Public Forum on the U.S. Standards Strategy

The National Institute of Standards and Technology and the American National Standards Institute will co-sponsor a public forum to raise awareness of the U.S. Standards Strategy; engage stakeholders in a dialogue about its principles, strategic initiatives and tactics; and invite public comment. The event will be held April 15 at the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C. The U.S. Standards Strategy is a revision of the National Standards Strategy for the United States (first edition – August 2000). An initial draft of the second edition of the strategy was issued for public review and comment in February. The results of the forum discussions will be included in a compilation of public comments and considered in a final draft of the strategy. There is no charge for the workshop, but preregistration is required. To register electronically, send an e-mail message containing the attendee’s name, title, organization, phone, fax and e-mail address or call 212/642-4956.

CPSC Signs Cooperative Safety Agreement with European Commission

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Directorate-General, Health and Consumer Protection of the European Commission have entered into an information sharing agreement to strengthen communication between both entities, and to improve consumer health and safety protection in the United States and the European Union. The agreement also addresses the need for enhanced regulatory cooperation on consumer product safety issues, which was highlighted as an important element in the Roadmap for U.S.-EU Regulatory Cooperation announced at a June 2004 U.S./EU Summit. The cooperative safety agreement with the EC is one of several that CPSC has negotiated in recent months with representatives of other governments. CPSC also has formal working relationships with Canadian, Chinese, Taiwanese and Costa Rican authorities. CPSC is negotiating memorandums of understanding with Mexico, India and Chile to heighten awareness of the global aspect of consumer product health and safety issues and to foster the exchange of information that will help reduce the incidence of death and injuries associated with consumer products.

ANSI President and CEO Mark W. Hurwitz Announces Intent to Retire

Mark W. Hurwitz, Ed.D., CAE, president and chief executive officer of the American National Standards Institute, has announced his intent to retire from the organization at year-end 2005. He was appointed in July 1999. Hurwitz communicated his intent to George W. Arnold, chairman of the Institute’s board of directors, and subsequently to the officers and members of the board in late February.  “The presidency of ANSI has been the capstone of my professional career,” he said. “This was a very difficult decision.”

1,000th Baldrige Award Application Will Be Free

Since 1988, 999 applications have been submitted for the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the U.S. presidential award for quality and organizational performance excellence. To celebrate the arrival of the 1,000th application, NIST will waive the fee for the organization submitting the 1,000th application (the first application to be received for the 2005 Baldrige Award). Application fees range from $5,000 for large for-profit organizations to $500 for nonprofit education organizations. The deadline for applications is May 26. The criteria, application package and other material are available free of charge by calling 301/975-2036 or downloading from the Web site.

NIST Unveils Atom-Based Standards for Measuring Chip Features Under 50 Nanometers

Device features on computer chips as small as 40 nanometers wide — less than one-thousandth the width of a human hair — can now be measured reliably thanks to new test structures developed by a team of physicists, engineers, and statisticians at the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, SEMATECH, and other collaborators. The test structures are replicated on reference materials that will allow better calibration of tools that monitor the manufacturing of microprocessors and similar integrated circuits. “We have caught up to the semiconductor industry roadmap for linewidth reference-material dimensions with this work,” says Richard Allen, one of the NIST researchers involved in the project. “With the semiconductor industry, one has to run at full speed just to keep up.” The new reference materials, configured as 9-mm by 11-mm chips embedded in a silicon wafer, are now being evaluated by SEMATECH member companies.

Experts Urge Redefinition of the Kilogram

It’s time to replace the 115-year-old kilogram artifact as the world’s official standard for mass, even though experiments generally thought necessary to achieve this goal have not yet reached their targeted level of precision. That’s the conclusion of an article published in the April open issue of Metrologia journal, written by five scientists from France, the United Kingdom and the United States. The authors suggest replacing the kilogram artifact — a cylinder of platinum-iridium alloy about the size of a plum — with a definition based on one of two unchanging natural phenomena, either a quantity of light or the mass of a fixed number of atoms. The authors, including ASTM member Barry N. Taylor (Committee E43 on SI Practice) of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, conclude that redefining the kilogram now in terms of an invariable property of nature rather than a material object could immediately have many benefits. For instance, it would improve the precision of certain electrical measurements fifty-fold and would enable physicists to make more precise calculations in studying the fundamental quantum properties of atoms and other basic particles. The paper outlines how this could be accomplished without impairing the current international system of mass measurements.

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