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A G R E AT E R M E AS U R E O F CO N F I D E N C E in cooperation to develop standardized test
methods and guidelines, the transition from
the laboratory to the marketplace could
create many of the same problems as the
California gold rush did, particularly for the
environment. However, with careful plan-
ning, we can have the appropriate terminol-
ogy, test measurement methods, reporting,
and environmental, safety, and health safe-
guards in place early enough to ward off
serious consequences.

Why Are Standards So Important?

Standards Will
Very simply, standards are crucial to
achieving a high degree of interoperability,
creating order in the marketplace, simplify-

Help Ensure Order
ing production requirements, managing the
potential for adverse environmental impacts,
and most important, ensuring the safety and

in Nano-Enabled health of those developing and using the next
generation of materials and devices.

Standards for nano terminology, mate-
rials, devices, systems, and processes will
help establish order in the marketplace. For
R&D researchers and engineers, standards
make it possible to make measurements and
Jonathan L. Tucker report data consistently in a way that others
can understand clearly. Those responsible for
Chairman, IEEE Nanotechnology developing standards will be at the forefront
Council Standards Committee in understanding the need for, and creation
and of, new characterization tools, processes,
components, and products to help jump-start
Senior Marketer, Nanotechnology, Research, this emerging field. This kind of approach
and Education, Keithley Instruments, Inc. can represent a competitive tool in global
markets. Creating a standard in advance
of the release of a new technology allows
Industry-wide standards are a vital early The first fruits of nano R&D are already both manufacturers and consumers to gain
step in exploiting nanotechnology being harvested as disciplines as diverse as greater confidence in it, promoting greater
materials, electronics, biotechnology, and acceptance and faster adoption.
Like the California gold rush of 1849, the computing rush to exploit nanotechnology's The following examples illustrate the
emergence of nanotechnology presents both potential. Many consumers have already importance of early standards development.
an enormous opportunity and enormous become familiar with nano-derived products,
risks. Just as new techniques, rewards, and such as improved types of cosmetics, fabrics, Carbon Nanotubes
challenges emerged during the gold rush paints, plastics, or personal electronics. Although some of the more sophisticated
era, nanotechnology exploration will inevi- Nanotechnology offers all-but-unlimited electronics and medical advances scientists
tably lead to the development of new tools to opportunities for those who can develop the have envisioned are still years down the
achieve new breakthroughs, the opportunity next exotic material or electronic component road, the development of some nanoscale
for creating enormous wealth, and unfor- that is cheaper, better, and faster than today's raw materials, particularly carbon nanotubes
tunately, the potential for environmental, CMOS devices. It also holds huge promise (CNTs), is already well underway. Years
health, and safety disasters. Although nano- for those who will create the tools needed to before CNTs were commercially available,
technology undoubtedly will create disrup- produce these materials and devices. Despite industry observers heard how they would
tive technologies that will spin off many new the recession, corporate and government bring significant performance advantages to
jobs, it also has the potential for displacing labs around the world continue to invest bil- electronics, enhance materials to make them
existing workers unprepared to take on these lions in nanoscience research. Unfortunately, stronger and lighter, and might even be part
new technologies. unless the public and private sectors work of the solution to our energy problems. This

Standards Will Help Ensure Order in Nano-Enabled Industries June 2009 1
industry buzz, plus the massive private and on which to ensure that what they received is indenter probe of a well-known geometry is
public sector investments in nano research, what they ordered. However, with a standard pushed into and withdrawn from the mate-
built interest at every level. In 2000, the late in place, customers have the tools needed to rial's surface while the force and displace-
Dr. Richard Smalley spun off his work to verify the materials they are purchasing. ment are continuously recorded. Conductive
form Carbon Nanotechnologies Inc. (now nanoindentation, a new technique, combines
Unidym) with the goal of commercializing Materials Characterization nanoindenter hardware with a conductive
his method of producing large batches of Techniques probe and voltage/current source-and-mea-
high-quality nanotubes. Unfortunately, at Characterizing the specific properties of sure instrumentation to produce a time-based
that point, there were no manufacturing stan- raw CNTs or other nanoscale materials is correlation of force, displacement, voltage,
dards or guidelines for ensuring the repro- obviously important, but what about nano- and current. When used in tandem, nanome-
ducibility of the company's manufacturing scale materials intended to enhance bulk chanical and electrical measurements have
process. There were also no known test and materials or to create new materials with proven highly sensitive to probe/sample
measurement guidelines for verifying the enhanced properties? What kinds of testing contact conditions, as well as to material
reproducibility and proving results on a large and reporting standards are needed? Must deformation behavior, which adds important
scale. Given this, how would the company both mechanical and electrical testing be information to that obtainable from nano-
have assured its customers of the quality of included when designing new materials? scale point measurements.
its products? Or just as important, how could Probing and microscopy are used rou- From a standards perspective, the most
customers choose confidently among various tinely to uncover new materials properties, important question becomes whether a
manufacturers' CNTs based on their product but probe force should also be considered. broader audience would find this testing
description? What happens to the electrical properties method acceptable. Would the nanomateri-
Buying carbon nanotubes isn't like buy- of a nanoscale material under a particular als community accept this as a best practice
ing baseballs or bananas--it's impossible to probe force? Some very thin materials can measurement method and as a potential stan-
judge their quality just by looking at them. exhibit localized phase transformations at dard test methodology?
En masse, CNTs basically look like a pile of the probing location, which can change their
soot (Figure 1). How can incoming inspec- electrical characteristics. What kind of test- IEEE's Nanotechnology Standards
tors verify what they have received? How do ing standards and guidelines are necessary Development Efforts
they know whether they are single-walled or to support probe force? The IEEE has assumed a leadership
multi-walled tubes? Given the different spe- Nanomechanical testing has become position in the development of nanoelec-
cies of carbon nanotubes now available (tubes a popular way of determining quantita- tronics standards. The factors driving the
that are metal or semiconducting, based on tive, small volume mechanical properties. development of these standards are the need
their chirality), most companies looking to Conceptually, nanoindentation is a rela- for reproducibility of results, international
purchase nanotubes would have had no basis tively straightforward technique in which an collaboration, and a common means of
communicating across traditional scientific
disciplines. This activity is driven by the
IEEE Nanotechnology Council (NTC), an
interdisciplinary group with members repre-
senting 21 IEEE societies. NTC is currently
involved in a variety of standards efforts
and activities.

IEEE 1650-2005
IEEE std. 1650TM-2005, "IEEE Standard
Test Methods for Measurement of Electrical
Properties of Carbon Nanotubes" was one
of the first nanotechnology standards with
which the IEEE became involved. This
effort was driven by the need for a way to
reproduce and prove lab results on a much
larger scale and to establish common metrics
and a minimum requirement for reporting.
The standard's main purpose is to establish
methods for the electrical characteriza-
tion of carbon nanotubes and the means of
reporting performance and other data. These
Figure 1. Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) in bulk. Photo credit: Jes Sherman. methods enable the creation of a suggested

2 June 2009 Standards Will Help Ensure Order in Nano-Enabled Industries
reporting standard that are used from the (NESR) Initiative is working to create a a best set of common practices will be delin-
research phase through manufacturing as framework through which the IEEE-SA and eated for use in semiconductor fabs.
the technology is developed. Moreover, the the nanoelectronics community can work in Efforts in nanomaterial research and
standard recommends the necessary tools cooperation to define a roadmap for nano- development for use in semiconductor VLSI
and procedures for validation. electronics standards that will: technology are increasing exponentially.
It took more than two years to complete