The nanometrology is a fast developing branch of metrology - a measurement science. Contrary to majority of typical
metrological disciplines the nanometrology deals not only with a single physical quantity but tries to handle issues
related to the measurement of different quantities with a high lateral resolution typically on the order of nanometers.
This effort often brings the need for a measurement of these quantities with a high accuracy and very small absolute values.
Nanostructures are all around us regardless made by a man or the nature. The structure and shape of the surface influence
functional properties of the material having all sizes. Nevertheless, this phenomenon shows itself especially in case of a material of a small size.
The shape and functional properties are inseparably connected together and our mission is to measure both of them with a highest possible accuracy.
A summary of typical procedures and techniques used in nanometrology can be arranged according to the quantities
which we try to measure as shown on this page or according to the measurement techniques which we use as shown on the
overview of techniques page.
If we attempt to list typical quantities which we try to measure, we get the following list:
- measurement of morphology and subsequently a evaluation of shapes and dimensions,
- volume structure, i.e. mapping the distribution of material underneath the sample surface,
- mechanical properties, such as indentation hardness or elasticity modulus,
- electrical properties, such as contact potential or the distribution of electrostatic field,
- magnetic properties, e.g. distribution of magnetization,
- thermal properties, such as thermal conductivity or local temperature,
- local chemical composition, or at least quantities proportional to it,
- optical properties, such as index of refraction or extinction coefficient.
As shown in the overview of techniques by far the most frequent device used for that kind of measurement is a scanning probe microscope (SPM).
Measurements having quantitative results (a number with a known uncertainty) are, however, often not easy and for many methods it is even impossible up to now.
Czech metrology institute is not by far the only one European national metrology institute specializing in nanometrology.
The emphasis put on this field is directly proportional to the industry level in each country and therefore to the most important
players on the field of nanometrology belong especially
Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (Germany),
National Physical Laboratory (UK),
INRIM (Italy), and many others. The metrology institutes collaborate with each other
during the development of new measurement methods and data interpretation in terms of the Euromet, EMRP and other projects.
Different aspects of nanoscale measurements are studied by numerous top-class scientific institutions in the Czech Republic, e.g.
Institute of Physics ASCR,
Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, Charles University in Prague, or
Institute of Scientific Instruments ASCR.