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Nanostructure Dimension Calibration

Illustration of pitch measurement

Fig. 1.  Illustration of pitch measurement for tilt angle 0° using calibration factors of 9.875 nm/pixel and 9.885 nm/pixel, respectively, for x and y, as derived from SEM calibration for nominal magnification of 30,000. Only one of the ten measurements is illustrated for each line. See NIST SP250-96 for details of calibration procedures and uncertainty analysis.  The pitch for line (a) is reported as 5000 nm ± 250 nm (k = 2), and the pitch for line (b) is reported as 5000 nm ± 200 nm (k = 2).

The accuracy of scanning electron microscopy (SEM) measurements depends on accurate calibration of the imaging process for each instrument. This Nanostructure Dimension Calibration provides traceable measurements of nanostructure diameter/width, height (measured with stage tilt) and pitch (lateral spacing relative to other nanostructures) for three-dimensional nanostructures. These measurements are traceable to NIST scanning electron microscope standards. One example of a pitch measurement is given in Figure 1. Details of the calibration process and recommendations for use as calibration standards in SEMs can be found in NIST Special Publication 250-96, available as a free download at This special test is primarily intended for use with NIST Standard Reference Instrument 6012, which consists of precision semiconductor nanostructure arrays grown by molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) on a patterned substrate. Other calibration tests are possible by special arrangement. Please contact Kris Bertness ( for further information.


For nist-quotes, scheduling, or shipping information:

John Lomax
Calibration Administrator
Physical Measurement Laboratory
325 Broadway
Boulder, CO 80305-3328
Tel: 303-497-3842
Fax: 303-497-4286


For technical information:

Kris Bertness
NIST Applied Physics Division
Tel: 303-497-5069


For information about other NIST calibration services:

Denise Prather
Calibration Administrator
Physical Measurement Laboratory
Tel: 301-975-4221
Fax: 301-975-2743

Created March 9, 2018, Updated April 23, 2019