Nanometrology – a branch of metrology

Nanometrology is a branch of metrology concerned with measurements at the nanoscale. It is a subfield of metrology, concerned with the science of measurement at the nanoscale level. Nanometrology has a crucial role in order to produce nanomaterials and devices with a high degree of accuracy and reliability in nanomanufacturing. Some of the most common techniques used in nanometrology are atomic force microscopy, electron microscopy, and X-ray diffraction. It is already a large sector of industry and is expected to continue to grow at a very fast rate.

Nanometrology involves the measurement of geometrical features of size, shape, and roughness at the nanoscale. It is one of the most important supporting infrastructures for the development of nanotechnology.

Nanometrology is a key enabler for the advancement of nanoscience and for the development and exploitation of nanotechnologies. A challenge in this field is to develop or create new measurement techniques and standards to meet the needs of next-generation advanced manufacturing, which will rely on nanometer-scale materials and technologies. The challenge for nanometrology is to develop globally accepted standards and measurement techniques that are reliable, stable, precise, and accurate. Macroscale measurements are usually encountered in conventional engineering applications; micro-scale measurements are encountered in micromechanics while nanoscale measurements are encountered in quantum engineering. The ultimate goal of nanometrology is to provide the coordinates and identity of every constituent atom in a nano-object, nanostructured material, or nanodevice.

Metrology is necessary as the key discipline to enable the exchange of industrial products or components. The needs for measurement and characterization of new sample structures and characteristics far exceed the capabilities of current measurement science. The development of innovative systems and standards involving imaging, modeling, and manipulating matter at the nanometer length scale to meet the needs of the next generation of manufacturing is crucial.

Many governments worldwide have existing nanotechnology policies and are taking preliminary steps towards nanometrology strategies, for example in support of pre-normative R&D and standardization work. Anticipated advances in emerging U.S. nanotechnology industries will require revolutionary metrology with higher resolution and accuracy than has previously been envisioned.