Surface and Microanalysis Science Division Overview

About the Surface and Microanalysis Science Division


As part of the Material Measurement Laboratory at NIST the Surface and Microanalysis Science Division serves as the Nation's Reference Laboratory for chemical metrology research, standards, and data to:

  • Characterize the spatial and temporal distribution of chemical species; and
  • Improve the accuracy, precision, sensitivity, selectivity, and applicability of surface, interface, microanalysis, and advanced isotope measurement techniques.

The Division is organized into three groups with focused technical expertise and research in a wide range of NIST, MML and Other Agency program areas.

The Division also benefits from the contributions of a NIST Fellow and two Scientist Emeriti who, although not associated with specific groups, interact extensively with a broad cross section of the Division and with organizations internal and external to NIST.

- Microanalysis Research Group -       

  • Performs research, develops analytical methods, and applies a wide variety of microbeam analysis techniques for the chemical, morphological, and crystallographic characterization of matter down to the atomic length scale.
  • Advances analytical techniques that primarily utilize excitation beams of electrons and X-rays to generate a signal that yields elemental, morphological, and molecular information.
  • Develops improved methods of quantification and analytical modeling as well as Standard Reference Materials and Data for a wide variety of applications. 
  • Investigates chemometric methods in applied analytical problems involving multivariate and multicomponent systems.

- Analytical Microscopy Group -

  • Conducts research on the chemical and structural properties of matter by applying various ion and photon based microscopies whose resolution range from micrometers to nanometers.
  • Researches the fundamental aspects of the excitation process, quantification, standards development, instrumental improvements, and data analysis challenges associated with these analytical methods.
  • Conducts research on autoradiography and nuclear track methods.
  • Conducts research in generation and size-calibration of particles. 
  • Develops and applies methods for the concentration, separation, and isotope measurement of trace atmospheric gases and particles.
  • Researches fundamental aspects of trace detection of explosive and narcotic particles using ion mobility spectrometry.
  • Applies analytical microscopy methods to problems in materials science, semiconductor technology, bioscience, and environmental science.

- Surface and Interface Research Group -

  • Develops and applies surface and interface sensitive diagnostics and microscopies involving laser-based sources and proximal probes with high spatial and spectral resolution.
  • Characterizes mechanisms of energy/charge transfer, structures of complex interfaces, and the chemical reactivity of solid-solid, solid-liquid, and solid-vacuum interfaces.
  • Develops and applies advanced measurement methods to critical problems in semiconductor, polymeric, electronic, photonic, and biological sciences through the analysis of heterogeneous materials in the micro and nanoscale regimes.

Core Expertise

The Surface and Microanalysis Science Division has a broad range of capabilities that cover several of the NIST program areas including: Biosciences & Health, Chemistry, Electronics & Telecom, Energy, Environment, Materials Science, Nanotechnology, Public Safety and Security, and Standards. These capabilities are built upon our expertise in:

  • Spatially Resolved Chemical Analysis (nm-scale to cm-scale)
  • Particle Analysis
  • Particle Manipulation
  • Surface Analysis
  • Advanced optical probes
  • Nano/Micro Structures
  • High Sensitivity and High Throughput Analysis
  • Microscopy & Imaging
  • Trace Chemical Detection

Key interactions

Future Directions and Plans

Future growth for the Surface and Microanalysis Science Division is anticipated in the NIST program areas associated with Bioscience and Health, Electronics and Telecom, Public Safety and Security, and Nanotechnology.

  • Bioscience and Health: The Division will expand its efforts through our NIH collaboration and a MML 3-year funding effort for site-specific chemical mapping of cells and tissue to improve biomarker discovery and clinical diagnostics. This will include developing novel super-resolution optical microscopies to probe chemical functionality at the sub-100 nm length scale
  • Electronics and Telecom: In conjunction with the NIST's OMP, the Division will be developing new measurement-science paradigms for 3D atomic-scale chemical analysis relating to post CMOS technologies.
  • Public Safety and Security: The Division plans to work with the DHS and NIJ to expand our program to develop calibration methods and new measurement methodologies for trace detection of illicit drugs.
  • Nanotechnology: New efforts in nanotechnology are predicated on receiving funding from the 2007 congressional initiative for EHS Nano through the America Competes ACT. The Division's efforts will be directed toward research in nanomaterial characterization as it relates to EHS needs and the development of standards and standard measurement protocols.
Created January 06, 2009, Updated December 07, 2016


  • General Information:
    301-975-3108 Telephone
    301-926-8671 Facsimile

    100 Bureau Drive, M/S 8390
    Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8390