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Workshop on Reliability Issues in Nanomaterials



Robert Keller, David T. Read, Roop L. Mahajan


The Workshop on Reliability Issues in Nanomaterials was held at the Boulder Laboratories of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) on August 17-19, 2004. It was designed to promote a particular subset of NIST?s responsibilities under the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI). The goal was to achieve consensus on two related topics: (a) identification of specific measurement-related barriers to successful incorporation of reliable nanomaterials into widespread engineering practice in the next 5 to 10 years; and (b) identification of measurement methodologies, standards, data, and models that might be appropriate for overcoming these barriers. 34 participants, representing cutting-edge nanomechanics-related research and development in industry, academia, and national laboratories attended and contributed. Adding NIST-Boulder staff who attended brought the total to about 40. The workshop format promoted discussion on the intended topics, and included: (i) a pre-workshop questionnaire addressed by plenary and breakout speakers; (ii) invitation of 10 plenary speakers who gave hour-long presentations, and 23 breakout speakers who gave brief presentations addressing points raised in the questionnaire. Key conclusions included: Industrial, academic, and national laboratory consensus indicated that there is always a need to understand fundamental causes of failure. Such understanding should then lead to re-design that is more reliable, and to improved manufacturing. The goal of accurate performance and lifetime prediction for nanomaterials depends on the interplay between accurate materials testing and characterization, and reliability models incorporating valid measured data. Attendees agreed that while the synergy among industry, academia, and national laboratories was effective, more fundamental materials research is needed, where the actual division of labor would be determined by market forces and policy. It was suggested that NIST could serve the unique role of developing metrology, standards, and materials characterization methods for improving reliability of nanomaterials. The most challenging and general metrology recommendation was the development of an ?atom imager,? a hypothetical instrument capable of measuring the chemical identity and precise 3-dimensional position of every atom within a nanomaterial. Such an instrument was postulated to be the key tool for optimizing fabrication/manufacturing and controlling reliability of nanomaterials. Nearer-term recommendations centered on improving the metrological performance of scanned probe microscopy (SPM) and nanoindentation. A secondary theme in many presentations was the need for modeling to be formally coupled with physical measurement in any study of nanomaterials; however, no novel computational tool or dataset was identified as a priority need.
Special Publication (NIST SP) - 1043
Report Number


mechanical properties, metrology, nanoindentation, nanomaterials, nanostructures, nanotechnology, reliability, scanned probe microscopy, standards


Keller, R. , Read, D. and Mahajan, R. (2005), Workshop on Reliability Issues in Nanomaterials, Special Publication (NIST SP), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online],, (Accessed May 23, 2024)


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Created July 31, 2005, Updated October 12, 2021