From National Institute of Standards and Technology (US) : “NIST Updates Database Used for Designing Advanced Materials”

From National Institute of Standards and Technology (US)

July 12, 2021

Technical Contact

Igor Levin
(301) 975-6142

Terrell A. Vanderah
(301) 975-5785

The Phase Equilibria Diagrams Database accelerates development of new materials across a wide range of critical U.S. industries.

A phase diagram from Standard Reference Database 31 including Lithium, Thorium, and Uranium. Newly added diagrams assist researchers with challenges in emerging energy technologies.

No one can say with absolute certainty what will happen in the future. But scientists can predict the future state of advanced materials very precisely using NIST’s Standard Reference Database (SRD) 31, also known as the Phase Equilibria Diagrams Database.

Now, NIST has released SRD 31 version 4.5, an update that includes 268 new entries and 720 new diagrams describing combinations of materials, including many new systems that may be key to solving the nation’s energy and climate challenges.

Phase equilibria diagrams show the state — solid, liquid or gas — that a mixture of materials will ultimately reach at a given temperature and pressure. Knowing this information in advance accelerates the development of new materials.

“When you start designing a new material, you need to know what will happen to it under different conditions,” said Igor Levin, the NIST materials scientist who oversees SRD 31. “This database helps researchers home in much more quickly on the combinations of materials that will have the precise properties they seek.”

Researchers rely on SRD 31 to develop new materials — and improve existing ones — for countless applications, including semiconductors, solar cells, chemical sensors, video displays, data storage and dental restoration materials, to name just a few.

The diagrams included in the new update will help researchers address challenges in emerging energy technologies, including corrosion issues in molten-salt generation IV nuclear reactors, heat transfer and storage in nuclear and concentrated solar power facilities, and development of next-generation batteries.

The new update can also help in developing new processes for recycling rare earth minerals and in reducing carbon emissions from metallurgical processing.

NIST scientists create content for the database by scouring newly published research literature for phase-diagram studies. Subject-matter experts at NIST and elsewhere standardize the phase diagrams to meet NIST guidelines and provide critical commentaries. NIST scientists provide quality control at each step in the process.

The Phase Equilibria Diagrams Database contains more than 30,000 diagrams for inorganic systems. Materials covered include oxides and nonoxide systems such as chalcogenides and pnictides, phosphates, salt systems and mixed systems of these classes.

The companion PED Editor for digitizing phase diagrams and extracting data from phase diagrams or other two‐dimensional scientific drawings is available for free download.

SRD 31 Version 4.5 is available for purchase as a PC product and also online as a subscription.

A free demonstration version of SRD 31 is available that displays the full functionality of the application and includes a searchable index of all materials systems covered in the database, including the new materials added in this release.

See the full article here.


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National Institute of Standards and Technology (US)‘s Mission, Vision, Core Competencies, and Core Values


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.

NIST’s vision

NIST will be the world’s leader in creating critical measurement solutions and promoting equitable standards. Our efforts stimulate innovation, foster industrial competitiveness, and improve the quality of life.

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The Articles of Confederation, ratified by the colonies in 1781, contained the clause, “The United States in Congress assembled shall also have the sole and exclusive right and power of regulating the alloy and value of coin struck by their own authority, or by that of the respective states—fixing the standards of weights and measures throughout the United States”. Article 1, section 8, of the Constitution of the United States (1789), transferred this power to Congress; “The Congress shall have power…To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures”.

In January 1790, President George Washington, in his first annual message to Congress stated that, “Uniformity in the currency, weights, and measures of the United States is an object of great importance, and will, I am persuaded, be duly attended to”, and ordered Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson to prepare a plan for Establishing Uniformity in the Coinage, Weights, and Measures of the United States, afterwards referred to as the Jefferson report. On October 25, 1791, Washington appealed a third time to Congress, “A uniformity of the weights and measures of the country is among the important objects submitted to you by the Constitution and if it can be derived from a standard at once invariable and universal, must be no less honorable to the public council than conducive to the public convenience”, but it was not until 1838, that a uniform set of standards was worked out. In 1821, John Quincy Adams had declared “Weights and measures may be ranked among the necessities of life to every individual of human society”.

From 1830 until 1901, the role of overseeing weights and measures was carried out by the Office of Standard Weights and Measures, which was part of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey in the Department of the Treasury.

Bureau of Standards

In 1901 in response to a bill proposed by Congressman James H. Southard (R- Ohio) the National Bureau of Standards was founded with the mandate to provide standard weights and measures and to serve as the national physical laboratory for the United States. (Southard had previously sponsored a bill for metric conversion of the United States.)

President Theodore Roosevelt appointed Samuel W. Stratton as the first director. The budget for the first year of operation was $40,000. The Bureau took custody of the copies of the kilogram and meter bars that were the standards for US measures, and set up a program to provide metrology services for United States scientific and commercial users. A laboratory site was constructed in Washington DC (US) and instruments were acquired from the national physical laboratories of Europe. In addition to weights and measures the Bureau developed instruments for electrical units and for measurement of light. In 1905 a meeting was called that would be the first National Conference on Weights and Measures.

Initially conceived as purely a metrology agency the Bureau of Standards was directed by Herbert Hoover to set up divisions to develop commercial standards for materials and products. Some of these standards were for products intended for government use; but product standards also affected private-sector consumption. Quality standards were developed for products including some types of clothing; automobile brake systems and headlamps; antifreeze; and electrical safety. During World War I, the Bureau worked on multiple problems related to war production even operating its own facility to produce optical glass when European supplies were cut off. Between the wars Harry Diamond of the Bureau developed a blind approach radio aircraft landing system. During World War II military research and development was carried out including development of radio propagation forecast methods; the proximity fuze and the standardized airframe used originally for Project Pigeon; and shortly afterwards the autonomously radar-guided Bat anti-ship guided bomb and the Kingfisher family of torpedo-carrying missiles.

In 1948, financed by the United States Air Force the Bureau began design and construction of SEAC: the Standards Eastern Automatic Computer. The computer went into operation in May 1950 using a combination of vacuum tubes and solid-state diode logic. About the same time the Standards Western Automatic Computer, was built at the Los Angeles office of the NBS by Harry Huskey and used for research there. A mobile version- DYSEAC- was built for the Signal Corps in 1954.

Due to a changing mission, the “National Bureau of Standards” became the “National Institute of Standards and Technology (US)” in 1988.

Following September 11, 2001, NIST conducted the official investigation into the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings.


NIST is headquartered in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and operates a facility in Boulder, Colorado, which was dedicated by President Eisenhower in 1954. NIST’s activities are organized into laboratory programs and extramural programs. Effective October 1, 2010, NIST was realigned by reducing the number of NIST laboratory units from ten to six. NIST Laboratories include:

Communications Technology Laboratory (CTL)
Engineering Laboratory (EL)
Information Technology Laboratory (ITL)
Center for Neutron Research (NCNR)
Material Measurement Laboratory (MML)
Physical Measurement Laboratory (PML)

Extramural programs include:

Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), a nationwide network of centers to assist small and mid-sized manufacturers to create and retain jobs, improve efficiencies, and minimize waste through process improvements and to increase market penetration with innovation and growth strategies;
Technology Innovation Program (TIP), a grant program where NIST and industry partners cost share the early-stage development of innovative but high-risk technologies;
Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, which administers the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s highest award for performance and business excellence.

NIST’s Boulder laboratories are best known for NIST‑F1 which houses an atomic clock. NIST‑F1 serves as the source of the nation’s official time. From its measurement of the natural resonance frequency of cesium—which defines the second—NIST broadcasts time signals via longwave radio station WWVB near Fort Collins in Colorado, and shortwave radio stations WWV and WWVH, located near Fort Collins and Kekaha in Hawai’i, respectively.

NIST also operates a neutron science user facility: the NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR). The NCNR provides scientists access to a variety of neutron scattering instruments which they use in many research fields (materials science; fuel cells; biotechnology etc.).

The SURF III Synchrotron Ultraviolet Radiation Facility is a source of synchrotron radiation in continuous operation since 1961. SURF III now serves as the US national standard for source-based radiometry throughout the generalized optical spectrum. All NASA-borne extreme-ultraviolet observation instruments have been calibrated at SURF since the 1970s, and SURF is used for measurement and characterization of systems for extreme ultraviolet lithography.

The Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology (CNST) performs research in nanotechnology, both through internal research efforts and by running a user-accessible cleanroom nanomanufacturing facility. This “NanoFab” is equipped with tools for lithographic patterning and imaging (e.g., electron microscopes and atomic force microscopes).


NIST has seven standing committees:

Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC)
Advisory Committee on Earthquake Hazards Reduction (ACEHR)
National Construction Safety Team Advisory Committee (NCST Advisory Committee)
Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board (ISPAB)
Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology (VCAT)
Board of Overseers for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA Board of Overseers)
Manufacturing Extension Partnership National Advisory Board (MEPNAB)

Measurements and standards

As part of its mission, NIST supplies industry, academia, government, and other users with over 1,300 Standard Reference Materials (SRMs). These artifacts are certified as having specific characteristics or component content, used as calibration standards for measuring equipment and procedures, quality control benchmarks for industrial processes, and experimental control samples.

Handbook 44

NIST publishes the Handbook 44 each year after the annual meeting of the National Conference on Weights and Measures (NCWM). Each edition is developed through cooperation of the Committee on Specifications and Tolerances of the NCWM and the Weights and Measures Division (WMD) of the NIST. The purpose of the book is a partial fulfillment of the statutory responsibility for “cooperation with the states in securing uniformity of weights and measures laws and methods of inspection”.

NIST has been publishing various forms of what is now the Handbook 44 since 1918 and began publication under the current name in 1949. The 2010 edition conforms to the concept of the primary use of the SI (metric) measurements recommended by the Omnibus Foreign Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988.