Program Overview

Nanostructured Materials are a new class of materials which provide one of the greatest potentials for improving performance and extended capabilities of products in a number of industrial sectors, including the aerospace, tooling, automotive, recording, cosmetics, electric motor, duplication, and refrigeration industries. Encompassed by this class of materials are multilayers, nanocrystalline materials and nanocomposites. Their uniqueness is due partially to the very large percentage of atoms at interfaces and partially to quantum confinement effects.

One critical need for their implementation is their characterization and measurement science which are the focuses of the NIST program. For many properties, it is not known whether the exciting novel behavior found in these new materials is due to new physics or to a logical extension of large-size behavior to small dimensions. Examples include the deformation and fracture behavior (wherein it is not known whether dislocations even exist in these materials), optical characteristics (wherein uncertainties exist in whether the properties are due to interface or quantum mechanical effects), magnetic properties (wherein it is not known what magnetic domains even look like in nanostructured materials or how they move in response to a magnetic field), and thermal properties (wherein the propagation of phonons through interfaces is poorly understood). Consequently, implementation of this new type of material into marketable products is significantly delayed. NIST is providing the measurement science to answer these critical unknowns. Important needs also include the identification of preparation methods for industrial-size quantities of material, extension of the capabilities of conventional measurement tools to the nanometer-size scale, and the development of consolidation methods that still retain the nanometer grain size of the initial nanocrystalline powders. For multilayers, understanding the development of epitaxy and control of both composition and interdiffusion at the interface are of critical importance.

By experimentally addressing these issues, by bringing together the industrial and scientific communities through the organization of workshops and conferences in the area, and by the development and preparation of appropriate standards, NIST acts to accelerate the utilization of these materials by the industrial sector. In addition, collaborations established in the area with Xerox, General Motors, Nanophase Technologies, Pratt and Whitney, Caterpillar, Lockheed-Martin, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Seagate, and Motorola Corporations, for example, enable NIST to leverage its activities with the much larger, but complementary, capabilities of other organizations.


Magnetic Properties of Nanomaterials
Mechanical Properites of Nanomaterials
Electrochemical Processing of Nanostructured Materials
Sputtered Multilayer Nanoscale Magnetic Films
Electromagnetic Properties of Multilayer Nanoscale Films

For additional information about the Nanostructured Materials Program, please call R. D. Shull, (301)975-6035, e-mail:

Back to Table of Contents

Last modified: Mon Jan 06 09:46:15 1997 Metallurgy Webmeister