Advances in R&D and commercialization of nanotechnology have been significant, yet numerous challenges remain to realize the tremendous benefits of this interdisciplinary and growing field. These challenges include reproducibility and scale up in manufacturing of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) and nanotechnology–enabled products (NEPs), and assessing the potential risks of ENMs and NEPs to humans and to the environment across the full material and product life cycles. Addressing these and other challenges requires accurate and reproducible measurements of physico-chemical and biological properties in relevant media, including complex environmental and biological matrices.
The development of protocols, defined here as step-by-step, reproducible, and validated procedures, is an essential first step in the harmonization of ENM/NEP property measurements to enable direct comparisons between laboratories and greater consistency in reporting. Protocols may address, either separately or conjointly, sample preparation, conduct of measurements, and data analysis. The need for protocols is highlighted by agencies that regulate ENMs and NEPs, by industry, and by researchers from diverse organizations. Protocols can form the basis for the development of documentary standards published by ISO, ASTM, and other standards development organizations. Information on existing documentary standards may be found in the American National Standards Institute Nanotechnology Standards Database.
NIST has actively developed protocols of relevance to nanomaterial measurements since 2007; some of these protocols have been published in a series of NIST Special Publications (SPs), each with a citable digital object identifier (DOI) to provide persistent identification. Some of these NIST protocols were developed in collaboration with external partners. The original versions of these protocols were posted on external collaborator web sites; all previous versions are superseded by the corresponding NIST SP versions. Updates to the SP protocols may be released in the future. Check this page to see when revisions of these protocols are made available or when new protocols are posted.
NIST encourages users to cite the protocols in their publications. NIST greatly values user comments and suggestions to improve or further validate the protocols, as well as input on high-priority needs for protocols. Please submit feedback or comments to nanoprotocols [at] nist.gov, noting the protocol to which you are referring.
Currently available protocols are assigned to three categories:
Additional protocols in the review or development stage will be added as they become available.