We use physics theories to understand and simulate the interaction of electrons, light, and mechanical probes with nanometer-scale structures, devices and engineered nanoparticles. We perform measurements of the interactions (e.g., electron scattering, secondary electron yields, optical interactions) to validate our understanding. We use what we know to develop best-in-the-world 3D nanometer-scale dimensional measurement methods, reference artifacts and measurement protocols. We prioritize our efforts to innovate new dimensional metrology solutions for nanotechnology, photonics, biomedical research, advanced electronics, and environmental health and safety.
Important physical and chemical properties of nanometer scale devices and structures depend on their shape and size. The benefits of nano are already increasing many applications, and are expected to grow significantly. For these applications, measurement accuracy is a fundamental measurement science issue because 1 nm is close to or even below the spatial resolution limit of existing nondestructive measuring instruments. As the nation's leading measurement institute, extending length measurement science and traceability to nanotechnology is part of NIST's mission. Our publications about measuring methods are heavily referenced, and the methods find their way into industry metrology tools and international measurement comparisons. Our measurement methods, reference artifacts and modeling software are used by companies that make metrology tools for nanotechnology applications.
We carry out the mission of NIST, PML, and EPD by putting state of the art physics to work for nanometer-scale dimensional metrology.