May leads NIST, Sandia explores scanning

News and notes from around the federal IT community.

Willie May

Willie May will officially become acting director of NIST when Patrick Gallagher leaves government on June 13.

May becomes NIST acting director

Willie May, who has been leading the National Institute of Standards and Technology while Director Patrick Gallagher served as acting deputy secretary of the Commerce Department, will officially take over as acting director of NIST when Gallagher steps down on June 13.

May is a 42-year veteran of NIST. In his most recent position as associate director for laboratory programs, he was responsible for the operations of NIST's seven labs. A chemist by training, May led analytic chemistry research at NIST for 20 years. He began his scientific career at the Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant.

May takes over an agency responsible for establishing security standards for federal information systems, voluntary cybersecurity guidelines for the private sector, and measurement and technical standards for a range of scientific, manufacturing, industrial and technological areas.

Gallagher is leaving the government to become chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh.

Sandia explores better scanning technology

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories are collaborating with colleagues at Rice University and the Tokyo Institute of Technology to develop new technology that could lead to significant improvements in airport passenger screening, medical imaging, food inspection and other applications.

The researchers unveiled their work on terahertz detectors, which are based on carbon nanotubes, in a technical publication in May. Sandia issued an official statement on the research on June 11.

Historically, the terahertz frequency range, which falls between the ranges used for electronics and optics, has presented great promise and vexing challenges, the Sandia researchers said. Detectors that operate in the terahertz range can more easily penetrate fabric and other materials and could provide less intrusive ways to screen people, cargo and food, they said.

Researchers said they were able to wrap together several nanoscopic-sized carbon tubes to create a macroscopic thin film containing a mix of metallic and semiconducting carbon nanotubes that might be the core of future super-sensitive detectors.

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