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US NIST develops World’s Smallest Reference Material

The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recently issued ‘the smallest known reference material ever created’, Reference Material (RM) 8027. RM 8027 ‘consists of five hermetically sealed ampoules containing one millilitre of silicon nanoparticles – all certified to be close to 2 nanometres in diameter – suspended in toluene’.

The RM is made from nanocrystals etched from a silicon wafer, ‘separated using ultrasound and then stabilized within an organic shell’. According to the team that developed the material, ‘particle size and chemical composition are determined by dynamic light scattering, analytical centrifugation, electron microscopy and inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy’.

“For anyone working with nanomaterials at dimensions [of] 5 nanometers or less, our well-characterized nanoparticles can ensure confidence that their measurements are accurate,” stated the leader of the development team.


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