Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Advanced Materials Characterization


The Chemical Sciences Division supports the characterization of new, diverse, and technological critical materials. The constant evolution of material science and technology challenge existing methods of metrology and lead to an evolving development and application of improved analytical methods. Our measurement capabilities for chemical compositional characterization are applied to detect elemental signatures, quantify elemental mass, and map its physical distribution. Researchers from across NIST, industry, academia, government are assisted by the application of state-of-the-art techniques, often uniquely available in our Division. The breadth of application supports most program areas involving chemical science metrology.


This program seeks to continually enhance the analytical competence of MML and other major operating units at NIST. Furthermore, the program makes available technical capabilities that U.S. industry and government need in their quest to compete on a global scale through improving methods and abilities, assisting in the research and development of new products, subsequently bringing them safely into the marketplace.

Major Accomplishments

  • Optimization and continuing technique development of prompt gamma activation analysis for hydrogen determination in hydrogen storage materials and combinatorial research methods.
  • Neutron activation analysis of candidate carbon nanotube reference materials revealed very high levels of contamination from catalysts used to produce the materials resulting in rejection of the material as a RM.
  • Quality control for 10B mass and thickness uniformity in a series of prototype neutron detectors being developed as new instruments for installation at the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS).
  • Analytical support in the discovery of a new candidate material for coating the first wall of fusion reactor vessels.
  • The nonporous material has a highly critical property of releasing helium during the high temperature anneal cycle rather than eroding away the wall and contaminating the fusion cycle.
  • Support of a Ph.D. Thesis on the movement of lithium ions in power cycled lithium batteries. This effort has spawned a second Ph.D. thesis program and is attracting the attention of battery researchers.
  • Developed a neutron imaging technique that improves area resolution by 2 or more orders of magnitude over existing imaging detectors. The proposal has attracted the attention of researchers at NIST, in academia, in industry, and in government laboratories. The effort has CSTL funding to begin construction in FY09.

We collaborate with other NIST divisions and external researchers to provide chemical compositional measurements in the development of reference materials or research samples of interest. Often, this has required the development of improved abilities for accurate analyses. In other situations entirely new analytical measurement systems are required to achieve the necessary metrological goals. In support of NIST Initiatives and the analytical needs of the nation we have successfully addressed materials problems representing diverse needs while increasing our analytical competence. Examples of recent focus areas include unique quality control support of industrial materials, support of academic research into lithium batteries, development of new instruments targeted to support NIST initiatives and America Competes, and reference materials.

Created April 9, 2009, Updated March 18, 2021