Standards body releases first nanotech nomenclature standard

Dec. 8, 2006 — ASTM International, an open forum for the development of international standards, announced its first nanotech related standard.

ASTM Committee E56 on Nanotechnology has approved the standard, E 2456, Terminology for Nanotechnology. The organization said that because of the need for a terminology document that is globally recognized and because of the cooperation of several organizations in making the document a reality, E 2456 will be available free of charge from the ASTM International Web site.

The standard was developed by a committee, E56, which was formed in 2005. “Research into the properties, synthesis, and applications of nanostructures has been growing at an exponential rate, and has outpaced the development of a language to describe the chemical compositions and physical forms of these new materials,” read a statement released by ASTM.

“Without a precise and widely accepted terminology, communications about nanotechnology’s risks and benefits are riddled with overgeneralizations. For example, the term ‘carbon nanoparticles’ often is used to describe in one phrase a range of very diverse nanomaterials such as carbon-60, single-walled carbon nanotubes, and even diesel exhaust. Documents such as the E56 terminology document define more precisely the language for nanotechnology, and thus ensure effective technical communication within the myriad fields involved in nanotechnology, as well as outreach to the public at large as products containing nanomaterials enter the marketplace,” the statement read.

In order to facilitate the development of a terminology standard, ASTM International initiated and signed partnership agreements with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, NSF International, Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International, and the American Institute of Chemical Engineering. These agreements contain several unique provisions that pertain specifically to Committee E56 and Terminology standard E 2456.

“This ASTM terminology standard will change how I communicate with policymakers, teachers and my neighbors,” said Rice University’s Vicki Colvin, chair of Committee E56, in a prepared statement. “For the first time I can use critical terms such as ‘nanoparticle,’ confident my language is precise and shared with other nanotechnologists across the globe. Even better is that the document is freely available. Now teachers and students interested in nanotechnology can access this dictionary and learn for themselves the nuances of our field.”

ASTM said that in addition to the terminology standard being available at no charge online, technical experts (named by the partner organizations) can participate in E56 without fee and will have all membership voting privileges. Finally, the partner organizations’ cooperation in the development of the terminology document has been noted within the document with the partners’ corporate logos affixed to the approved standard.

ASTM said it believes that the partnership agreements will eliminate redundant resource allocation among a variety of standards organizations, provide for the pooling of technical experts in a single standards development venue and, consequently, help create a truly global terminology document in terms of input as well as application. Some of the terms defined in the new standard include nanotechnology, nano-, nanoscale and nanostructured.


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