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NPL at the Royal Institution of Great Britain

Surface technology

Standardisation and best practice

Ensuring materials meet accredited standards required by industry

We developing international standards for surface chemical analysis, nano technologies, analysis of particles and graphene. Standards and traceability are important to ensure that measurements are comparable between laboratories, that data is defendable and that materials meet accredited standards required by industry. We support innovation, measurement comparability and trade.  

NPL is very active in international standardisation and pre-normative activities for surface technologies. We lead many projects and participate in committees on surface chemical analysis, nanotechnologies, particle analysis and graphene. We provide consultancy, advice and information on developing standards and pre-standardisation testing to ensure your measurement methods or products are compliant and internationally competitive.

International Standards Organisation (ISO)

We participate and take leadership roles in three ISO technical committees (TC) on surface chemical analysis and nanotechnolgies and nanotechnologies.

  • ISO TC 201 Surface chemical analysis, which covers terminology, general procedures, data management and treatment, depth profiling, Auger electron spectroscopy, Secondary ion mass spectrometry, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, glow discharge spectroscopy and scanning probe microscopy.
  • ISO TC 229 Nanotechnologies, which covers terminology and nomenclature, measurement and characterisation, health, safety and environmental aspects of nanotechnologies and material specifications.  We lead the development of standards in terminology and measurement and characterisation including several on graphene and 2D materials.
  • ISO TC24/SC4 particle characterisation.
  • CEN TC 352 European nanotechnologies standardisation

ISO terminology

ISO provides a free online browsing platform which lists all ISO defined terms.  At NPL, we lead the development of terminology in surface chemical analysis and nanotechnologies, including 2D materials.

Vocabulary for surface chemical analysis

We lead the development of surface chemical analysis vocabulary, which provides the definitions for some 900 surface chemical analysis terms in two ISO International Standards:

  • ISO 18115-1:2013(E) - Surface chemical analysis - Vocabulary - Part 1, General terms and terms used in spectroscopy 
  • ISO 18115-2:2013(E) - Surface chemical analysis - Vocabulary - Part 2, Terms used in scanning-probe microscopy 

These documents cover the terms used in surface analysis techniques such as Auger electron spectroscopy (AES), secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) as well as in the scanned probe microscopies (SPM) such as atomic force microscopy (AFM), scanning near-field optical microscopy (SNOM), scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and others.

The PDF files for these ISOs can be downloaded for free at the ISO portal. The Surface chemical analysis terminology guide can be downloaded here.

The Vocabularies are structured and it is easiest to find particular terms, or groups of terms, using the indexes in which the term number is given. These indexes are available separately as PDF documents through the two links provided below:

© ISO 2017
All rights reserved. Unless otherwise specified, no part of this publication may be reproduced or utilized otherwise in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, or posting on the internet or an intranet, without prior written permission. Permission can be requested from either ISO at the address below or ISO's member body in the country of the requester.
ISO Copyright office
CP 401 •CH-1214 Geneva
Phone: +41 22 749 01 11
Fax: +41 22 749 09 47
Permission has been granted by ISO for public access to ISO 18115-1 and ISO 18115-2 for educational and implementation purposes through eight approved websites at the National Physical Laboratory (UK), the American Vacuum Society (USA), the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (USA), the Surface Analysis Society of Japan (Japan), the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (Japan), the Bundesanstalt fur Materialforshung und–prufung (Germany), the National Metrology Institute of Germany (Germany) and the Spanish Vacuum Society (Spain).

Vocabulary for Nanotechnologies and 2D materials

We lead the development of key parts of the ISO 80004 vocabulary series on nanotechnologies including the terms for nano-object characterisation and graphene and related 2D materials. These can be accessed here:

Versailles Project on Advanced Materials and Standards (VAMAS)

We undertake and lead pre-standardisation interlaboratory studies through various VAMAS technical working areas (TWAs).  VAMAS supports world trade in products dependent on advanced materials technologies, through international collaborative projects aimed at providing the technical basis for harmonised measurements, testing, specifications, and standards. We lead projects in:

  • TWA 2 Surface chemical analysis, which covers electron and optical spectroscopies, scanning probe microscopies, mass spectroscopies, data workflow, methods and best-practices.
  • TWA 34 Nanoparticle populations, which covers the cross-comparison of measurement techniques for determining dimensional, electronic, chemical, optical or magnetic characteristics of nano-particles.
  • TWA 41 Graphene and related 2D materials, which aims to validate different methodologies of measurement for graphene and related 2D materials.
  • TWA 42 Raman spectroscopy and microscopy 

Consultative committee for amount of substance (CCQM)

We are active in the CCQM committee and especially the Surface Analysis Working Group (SAWG), which promotes worldwide uniformity in units of measurement.

Contact us

Lead researcher

Charles Clifford

Senior scientist

Charles is a senior scientist in the Nanoanalysis Group.

View Charles Clifford

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