There are two types of standards; physical and documentary.

Physical standards are the physical realisation of the unit of a physical quantity, such as length, mass, time, temperature, current, luminous intensity, electric current, and amount of matter. All major economic nations have a National Measurement Institute whose main role is to establish, maintain, and disseminate physical standards of measurement.

Documentary standards are published documents which set out specifications and procedures that are designed to ensure products, services and systems are safe and reliable. They establish a common language which defines quality and safety criteria. Standards provide the factual building blocks around which effective regulations can be developed.

National Measurement Institute (NMI)

The National Measurement Institute (NMI) has been developing world-class capabilities in nanometrology and biometrology.

The NMI develops measurement infrastructure, expertise and standards for nanotechnology. This work assists Australian researchers and industries to capitalise on growth and commercialisation opportunities, and contribute to effective health, safety and environmental regulatory frameworks for nanotechnologies.

The NMI research activities are aimed at the development of new standards, measurement techniques and calibration services for nanostructures and nanomaterials both at the national and international level. This includes the investigation and comparison of accuracies, limitations and uncertainties of nanoscale measuring instruments and methods.

The NMI’s Bioanalysis Group is involved in developing the infrastructure to improve accuracy and comparability in biological measurement and undertakes work on a variety of levels from collaborative activities and contract research through to commercial analysis.

NMI and international measurement institutes have collaborated to build an improved support infrastructure for biological measurements This work is coordinated by the Working Group on Bioanalysis, part of the Consultative Committee for Amount of Substance — Metrology in Chemistry of the International Committee for Weights and Measures. This relatively new field of science is referred to as biometrology.

Standards Australia

Standards Australia is an independent, not-for-profit organisation, recognised by the Australian Government as the peak non-government standards body in Australia. The responsibility for developing Australian documentary standards lies with Standards Australia. Their Nanotechnology Technology Committee (NT-001) coordinates Australian input into the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and disseminates information about ISO nanotechnology standards in Australia.

International Standards

International standardisation plays a critical role in ensuring that the full potential of nanotechnology will be realised and safely integrated into society. The ISO Nanotechnology Committee (ISO/TC 299) develops robust standards and other deliverables relevant to nanotechnologies that will:

  • Support the sustainable and responsible development and global dissemination of these emerging technologies;
  • Facilitate global trade in nanotechnologies, nanotechnology products and nanotechnology enabled systems and products;
  • Support improvement in quality, safety, security, consumer and environmental protection, together with the rational use of natural resources in the context of nanotechnologies; and
  • Promote good practice in the production, use and disposal of nanomaterials, nanotechnology products and nanotechnology enabled systems and products.
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