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Stable and radioactive isotope analysis is an important interdisciplinary tool used by numerous scientists. Therefore, achieving reliable metrology and traceability in isotope analysis is critical for national priorities such as nuclear and homeland security, forensics, medicine and pharmaceuticals, human health and nutrition, and climate science. The NIST Isotope Metrology Program leverages expertise in isotope metrology to provide the measurement science, measurement services (standards), and data science tools required by a diverse user community and critical measurement assurance programs. The impact of this program is demonstrated by scientific breakthroughs to enable the reliable verification and validation of isotope analysis. The goal is to increase cost-effectiveness and savings across the national priorities, improve decision-making including in security/law enforcement and climate science policy, and better target medical treatment to improve human health.


Image of atom being held in hands

The application of isotope measurements drives advances in an enormous number of fields and stakeholder engagements, including federal and state government agencies, academia, and private industry including the medical industry. The objective of the NIST Isotope Metrology Program is to address the metrology challenges faced by this diverse community and provide the measurement assurances required to support commutability, comparability and validation of isotopic measurements required for confidence in the isotope data results and the usage of these results. By providing a coordinated NIST-wide effort that leverages the broad metrology experience in both the development and delivery of measurement science, measurements services, and data science tools and partnering with our external stakeholders to identify overlaps in the metrology needs of the community we will be able to deliver the metrology tools to our stakeholders more quickly and cost effectively. Using this coordinated partnership approach will allow for advances and breakthroughs across the spectrum of isotope ratio applications leading to, for instance, faster conclusive analysis of forensic evidence that will enable law enforcement to advance investigations more rapidly and give decision makers the confidence in the legal defensibility of findings; more rigorous and exacting drug, food, and flavor provenance/authentication as well as identification of counterfeits; and improved understanding of mass flux in natural systems (e.g. global cycles) to more rigorously guide models used for remediation/mitigation and policy-making.

How can NIST help?

With its mission to support the nation's economy and improve quality of life, NIST is poised to lead by:  

  • Delivering SRMs and RMs as a part of NIST’s measurement services mission.
  • Developing and disseminating advancement tools for breakthrough measurement sciences.
  • Delivering the data science products required for accessibility, rapid analysis, and verification.

NIST Isotope Metrology Webinar Series

The NIST Isotope Metrology Working Group (IMWG) will be kicking off a webinar series featuring NIST’s current capabilities in isotope metrology spanning measurement services, measurement sciences, and data science. The goals of this series are to:

  • Identify existing, on-campus capabilities in isotope metrology and related support services and technologies.

  • Facilitate collaborations and teaming to rapidly address future research opportunities and stakeholder needs.

  • Enhance the visibility of isotope metrology activities at NIST via an outward-facing webpage.

We encourage volunteers to present their work in isotope metrology and other potentially related support areas! Please reach out to any of the team members listed below if you would like your name to be added to the speakers list.

The current calendar of scheduled speakers is below. All seminars will be held at 2:00 pm (EST) on the date indicated.

How can I learn more?

This series is being coordinated by the Isotope Metrology Working Group (IMWG), whose mission is to connect NIST staff with other like-minded colleagues and foster collaborations (both internal and external) towards a cohesive and impactful NIST program in isotope metrology that will support the nation’s isotope metrology needs.

If you would like to find out more, please contact any of the following IMWG POCs:

MML: Jacqueline Mann (646.01), Kimberly Harris (646.03), Nik Blonder (646.04), Nathan Mahynski (646.04), Debra Ellisor (646.06), A.J. Fleisher (646.10), Clay Davis (646.11), Evan Groopman (643.05)

PML: Richard Essex (682.04) and Ryan Fitzgerald (682.04)

To be added to the general interest list, send an email to Jacqueline Mann, jacqueline.mann [at] (). Periodic updates will be sent out via email and posted on this internal website. Additionally, information on current activities can be found at isotope-metrology - NIST - Slack.

Created November 22, 2022, Updated March 28, 2023