Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

A measurement first: 'Noise thermometry' system measures Boltzmann Constant

Date:
April 4, 2011
Source:
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Summary:
Researchers have for the first time used an apparatus that relies on the "noise" of jiggling electrons to make highly accurate measurements of the Boltzmann constant, an important value for many scientific calculations. The technique is simpler and more compact than other methods for measuring the constant and could advance international efforts to revamp the world's scientific measurement system.

NIST physicist Samuel Benz holds the two components that are compared in the first electronic measurement of the Boltzmann constant. The ac reference signal generated by the superconducting chip (left) is compared to the "Johnson noise" of a resistor inside the glass container (right). In the experiment, the water in the container is held at its triple point temperature near 0 C or 32 F.
Credit: Burrus/NIST

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have for the first time used an apparatus that relies on the "noise" of jiggling electrons to make highly accurate measurements of the Boltzmann constant, an important value for many scientific calculations. The technique is simpler and more compact than other methods for measuring the constant and could advance international efforts to revamp the world's scientific measurement system.

The Boltzmann constant* relates energy to temperature for individual particles such as atoms. The accepted value of this constant is based mainly on a 1988 NIST measurement performed using acoustic gas thermometry, with a relative standard uncertainty of less than 2 parts per million (ppm). The technique is highly accurate but the experiment is complex and difficult to perform. To assure that the Boltzmann constant can be determined accurately around the world, scientists have been trying to develop different methods that can reproduce this value with comparable uncertainty.

The latest NIST experiment used an electronic technique called Johnson noise thermometry (JNT) to measure the Boltzmann constant with an uncertainty of 12 ppm. The results are consistent with the currently recommended value for this constant. NIST researchers aim to make additional JNT measurements with improved uncertainties of 5 ppm or less, a level of precision that would help update crucial underpinnings of science, including the definition of the Kelvin, the international unit of temperature.

The international metrology community is expected to soon fix the value of the Boltzmann constant, which would then redefine the Kelvin as part of a larger effort to link all units to fundamental constants. This approach would be the most stable and universal way to define measurement units, in contrast to traditional measurement unit standards based on physical objects or substances. The Kelvin is now defined in terms of the triple-point temperature of water (273.16 K, or about 0 degrees C and 32 degrees F), or the temperature and pressure at which water's solid, liquid and vapor forms coexist in balance. This value may vary slightly depending on chemical impurities.

The NIST JNT system measures very small electrical noise in resistors, a common electronic component, when they are cooled to the water triple point temperature. This "Johnson noise" is created by the random motion of electrons, and the signals they generate are directly proportional to temperature. The electronic devices measuring the noise power are calibrated with electrical signals synthesized by a superconducting voltage source based on fundamental principles of quantum mechanics. This unique feature enables the JNT system to match electrical power and thermal-noise power at the triple point of water, and assures that copies of the system will produce identical results. NIST researchers recently improved the apparatus to reduce the statistical uncertainty, systematic errors and electromagnetic interference. Additional improvements in the electronics are expected to further reduce measurement uncertainties.

The new measurements were made in collaboration with guest researchers from the Politecnico di Torino, Italy; the National Institute of Metrology, China; the University of Twente, The Netherlands; the National Metrology Institute of Japan, Tsukuba, Japan; and the Measurement Standards Laboratory, New Zealand.

* The currently accepted value of the Boltzmann Constant is 1.380 6504 x 10-23 joules/kelvin.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Samuel P Benz, Alessio Pollarolo, Jifeng Qu, Horst Rogalla, Chiharu Urano, Weston L Tew, Paul D Dresselhaus, D Rod White. An electronic measurement of the Boltzmann constant. Metrologia, 2011; 48 (3): 142 DOI: 10.1088/0026-1394/48/3/008

Cite This Page:

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). "A measurement first: 'Noise thermometry' system measures Boltzmann Constant." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 April 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110331151351.htm>.
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). (2011, April 4). A measurement first: 'Noise thermometry' system measures Boltzmann Constant. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110331151351.htm
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). "A measurement first: 'Noise thermometry' system measures Boltzmann Constant." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110331151351.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Next Stop America for France's TGV?

Next Stop America for France's TGV?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 24, 2014) General Electric keeps quiet on reports it's in talks to buy French turbine and train maker Alstom. Ivor Bennett reports on what could be an embarrassing rumour for the French government, with business-friendly reforms proving a hard sell. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Obama Plays Soccer With Japanese Robot

Raw: Obama Plays Soccer With Japanese Robot

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) President Obama briefly played soccer with a robot during his visit to Japan on Thursday. The President has been emphasizing technology along with security concerns during his visit. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama Encourages Japanese Student-Scientists

Obama Encourages Japanese Student-Scientists

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) President Obama spoke with student innovators in Japan and urged them to take part in increased opportunities for student exchanges with the US. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

AFP (Apr. 23, 2014) The UN mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP) led a mine clearance demonstration on Wednesday in the UN-controlled buffer zone where demining operations are being conducted near the Cypriot village of Mammari. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins