Nanotechnology is considered to be one of the key technologies of the 21st century. It is defined as the manipulation of matter at the atomic or molecular levels and includes the many areas of research that explore matter occurring below a certain size.
Nanomaterials are expected to become the building blocks for the next generation of products that will be used in industries as diverse as healthcare, electronics, renewable energy and consumer goods.
Examples of its application include bone healing and regeneration, the ultrafast transmissions of data and nearly infinite data storage. Using materials that are lighter and can last longer improve industrial machines, such as wind turbines, as well as consumer equipment. It is a market that can be segmented by product or material type (i.e. nanowires, graphene) or by application (i.e. lighting, energy storage, photovoltaic cells).
Nanotechnology is already present in the electronics industry and will make further inroads. It will be used to make computer processors more powerful, replace computer flash memories, provide novel approaches to optoelectnroic devices and reduce the energy consumption of displays. Nanosensors will be used in many industries from manufacturing to medical diagnostics while nanowires will help to create cheaper and more efficient solar cells.
Two new IEC publications
Carbon nanotubes are tubes made of carbon with diameters typically measured in nanometers that are noted for their strength and flexibility. IEC TS 62607-2-4 provides test methods to determine the resistance of individual carbon nanotubes. It specifies the test method for determining the resistivity and the contact resistance of an individual carbon nanotube and the reliability of the measurement.
According to the IEC Project Leader for these publications, Hiro Akinaga, “IEC TS 62607-2-4 describes the protocol to evaluate the resistance which is one of the most important characteristics of carbon nanotube (CNT). Material manufacturers of CNT require the protocol since the individual CNT are of nanometer dimensions and the characteristics are very sensitive to the protocol and the measurement conditions”.
Thermally stimulated current (TSC) measurement are a widely used method for information about the charge trapping and electric polarization phenomena of various materials such as dielectrics, semiconductors, and organic materials. TSC measurement can also be used to evaluate the defect states and structures in nano-enabled materials. IEC TS 62607-8-1 provides the test method for doing so.
There are two types of TSC measurement methods which are classified by the origin of the current. One is generated by the detrapping of charges while the other is generated by depolarization. IEC 62607-8-1 focuses on the detrapping of charges.
IEC nanotechnology standardization
IEC Technical Committee 113 provides standardization of nanotechnologies relevant to electro-technical products with technical experts representing 35 countries. To date, it has issued 42 publications.
The full potential of nanotechnology is still being explored. According to Akinaga, “the mission of IEC TC 113 includes bridging scientific achievements with practical technology and developing a healthy and competitive environment in industry with solid scientific knowledge”.