New standard mass made with ISTC help

Mar 03, 2005

This program began three years ago and it involves scientists from eight countries. The task is immense. A new standard mass will be created with maximum possible precision on a modern level of development for world science and technology.
Of the multitude of measurable values, the most important and the most basic, are time, length and mass. Standards of mass and length were made over one hundred years ago, in the form of the standard kilogram and the standard meter; they are held at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in Paris. The standard hour was determined through the period of the Earth’s rotation.

Alas, however, it transpired that these standards are unstable. For over 50 years scientists from across the world have been trying to create an ideal standard mass: to produce a solid that consists of a known quantity of identical atoms, and weigh it. The problem lay in there not being a suitable material.

Now, however, thanks to the efforts of Russian scientists, such a material is available. More precisely, it will become available in the required quantity within the next few years. It is superpure silicon – pure in the sense that the vast majority of its composition is made up of silicon-28 atoms. As far as other impurities are concerned, including other silicon isotopes, they may be found in proportions not exceeding one atom for every 10 million silicon-28 atoms.

The first 140 grams of the superpure monoisotopic silicon have been obtained in the framework of an international project on the creation of a new standard mass. It is superpure silicon, 99.99% comprised of the silicon-28 isotope. There will be 5kg of such silicon in three years time. This will be sufficient to produce a kilogram sphere, the number of silicon-28 atoms in which will be known precisely. At last the outdated weight held at the Bureau of Weights and Measures in Paris will be replaced by a standard in which not only the mass, but also the number of atoms will be defined to the maximum achievable limit of accuracy for world science today.

For the first time scientists the world over will be able to clarify one of the most fundamental chemical values – the Avogadro Constant. However, this project promises a solution not only to fundamental tasks. Development of the technology to obtain superpure silicon isotopes could lead to changes in microelectronics that are no less than revolutionary, just like the changes that eventually enabled the power and rapid action of three-storey high giant computers to be replaced by notebook machines.

Source: International Science and Technology Center (ISTC)

Explore further: Research geared to keep women from fleeing IT profession

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Designing exascale computers

Jul 23, 2014

"Imagine a heart surgeon operating to repair a blocked coronary artery. Someday soon, the surgeon might run a detailed computer simulation of blood flowing through the patient's arteries, showing how millions ...

China's startups hope for boom after Alibaba IPO

Jun 11, 2014

Nils Pihl has spent 18 months building what he calls cutting-edge software to crunch "really big data sets." But instead of going to Silicon Valley, the 27-year-old Swede and his four colleagues have been ...

The revolution will be printed in 3-D

May 16, 2014

Three-dimensional printing is an increasingly important tool for industry and research, and the terminology as well as the technology is creeping into the consumer market. But what is it? And how are UCLA ...

Recommended for you

Computer games give a boost to English

11 hours ago

If you want to make a mark in the world of computer games you had better have a good English vocabulary. It has now also been scientifically proven that someone who is good at computer games has a larger ...

Saddam Hussein—a sincere dictator?

16 hours ago

Are political speeches manipulative and strategic? They could be – when politicians say one thing in public, and privately believe something else, political scientists say. Saddam Hussein's legacy of recording private discussions ...

Oldest representative of a weird arthropod group

16 hours ago

Biologists at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have assigned a number of 435-million-year-old fossils to a new genus of predatory arthropods. These animals lived in shallow marine habitats ...

User comments : 0