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ANSI Nanotechnology Standards Panel Holds First Meeting


New York, Oct 01, 2004

Buckyballs, hybrid nanostructures, dendrimers and nanotubes. If these terms sound like the vocabulary of a foreign language, it shouldn’t be a surprise. Even the experts in the field of nanotechnology don’t always agree on what these and many other terms mean in a given context. Approaching how to find a common language within the rapidly expanding realm of nanotechnology was the task at hand during the first meeting of the American National Standards Institute Nanotechnology Standards Panel (ANSI-NSP) held at the facilities of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, MD.

Nearly 100 representatives of the academic community, legal profession, industry, government, standards developers and other subject matter experts gathered on September 29-30 to solidify the goals and mission of the Panel, and then shifted gears to tackle the pressing need for agreement on a nomenclature and terminology structure and supporting standards.

“Historically, ANSI has responded to the needs of industry and government when coordination challenges have arisen in the development of standards,” said Dr. George W. Arnold, chair of the ANSI Board of Directors, during his welcoming remarks. “Your contribution to this activity will provide a great benefit to our society, and comes at a critical time.”

Nanotechnology as defined by the National Nanotechnology Initiative (a federal R&D program established to coordinate the multiagency efforts in nanoscale science, engineering, and technology) is:

  • research and technology development at the atomic, molecular or macromolecular levels, in the length scale of approximately 1 - 100 nanometer range
  • creating and using structures, devices and systems that have novel properties and functions because of their small and/or intermediate size
  • ability to control or manipulate on the atomic scale

Many of the stakeholders in the nanotechnology industry feel that nomenclature is seen as the fundamental building block for progress within this industry. Some definitions do exist now, but there is not always consensus on what they mean. Having a common, and agreed upon, language will be essential to any standardization effort. Some of the critical issues identified during the meeting for developing a nomenclature structure and defining terminology include:

  • size
  • morphology
  • composition
  • process
  • risk management and communications

The breakout sessions during the two-day meeting produced a number of recommendations on how to approach developing a nomenclature and terminology structure and the standards that will support the emerging industry. The steering committee of the Panel is refining these recommendations and will be issuing them to the greater standards setting community by early November 2004. The participants also confirmed their support for international cooperation and collaboration and will be considering various approaches to accomplish this.

There was a clear recognition by the participants of the need for this panel and for its value. The ANSI-NSP is the forum where private and public sector interests agree to cooperatively address the standards needs of the emerging nanotechnology field, and offers a credible process that allows all voices to be heard.

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