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Standard on Nanomanufacturing Terms and Definitions Published by ISO

Written by: 
Jeff Morse, Ph.D.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard on Nanomanufacturing Terms and Definitions was published in December 2013. The concept database for ISO/TS 80004-8:2013 “Nanotechnologies—Vocabulary—Part 8: Nanomanufacturing Processes (Published December 15, 2013) can be accessed at This Technical Specification gives terms and definitions related to nanomanufacturing processes, forming one part of multi-part terminology and definitions documentation covering the different aspects of nanotechnologies.The NNN has participated in this standards activity, with the InterNano taxonomy database contributing nanomanufacturing process terminology towards this standard. The NNN continues to contribute to similar activities supporting the necessary infrastructure for a sustainable nanomanufacturing roadmap.

Nanomanufacturing is the essential bridge between the discoveries of the nanosciences and real-world nanotechnology products. Advancing nanotechnology from the laboratory into volume production ultimately requires careful study of manufacturing process issues including product design, reliability and quality, process design and control, shop floor operations, supply chain management, workplace safety and health practices during the production, use, and handling of nanomaterials. Nanomanufacturing processes encompass directed self assembly and assembly techniques, synthetic methodologies, and fabrication processes such as lithography and biological processes. Nanomanufacturing also includes bottom-up directed assembly, top-down high resolution processing, molecular systems engineering, and hierarchical integration with larger scale systems. As dimensional scales of materials and molecular systems approach the nanoscale, the conventional rules governing their behavior may change significantly. As such, the behavior of a final product is enabled by the collective performance of its nanoscale building blocks.

All the process terms in this standard are relevant to nanomanufacturing, with many of the listed processes not exclusively relevant to the nanoscale. Depending on controllable conditions, such processes may result in material features at the nanoscale or, alternatively, larger scales. There are many other terms that name tools, components, materials, systems control methods or metrology methods associated with nanomanufacturing that are beyond the scope of this standard. Biological process terms are not included in this first edition of the nanomanufacturing vocabulary, but considering the rapid development of the field, it is expected that terms in this important area will be added in a future update to this Technical Specification or in companion standards documents in the 80004 series. This could include both the processing of biological nanomaterials and the use of biological processes to manufacture materials at the nanoscale. Similarly, additional terms from other developing areas of nanomanufacturing, including composite manufacturing, roll-to-roll manufacturing, and others, will be included in future standards.

There is a distinction between the terms nanomanufacturing and nanofabrication. Nanomanufacturing encompasses a broader range of processes than does nanofabrication. Nanomanufacturing encompasses all nanofabrication techniques and also techniques associated with materials processing and chemical synthesis. This document provides an introduction to processes used in the early stages of the nanomanufacturing value chain, namely the intentional synthesis, generation or control of nanomaterials, including fabrication steps in the nanoscale. The nanomaterials that result from these manufacturing processes are distributed in commerce where, for example, they may be further purified, be compatabilized to be dispersed in mixtures or composite matrices, or serve as integrated components of systems and devices. The nanomanufacturing value chain is, in actuality, a large and diverse group of commercial value chains that stretch across a broad range of industry sectors.

A common understanding of the terminology used in practical applications will enable communities of practice in nanomanufacturing and will advance nanomanufacturing strength worldwide. Extending the understanding of terms across the existing manufacturing infrastructure will serve to bridge the transition between the innovations of the research laboratory and the economic viability of nanotechnologies.