ISO/TR 11360 offers methodology for categorising nanomaterials

Paul Boughton
From new medical applications, to state-of-the-art gadgets and consumer products, nanotechnologies are pushing the boundaries of what is possible. But for this technology to develop further, faster and better, we need a clear understanding and a logical classification of nanomaterials. ISO has therefore published a new technical report, ISO/TR 11360:2010, 'Nanotechnologies – Methodology for the classification and categorization of nanomaterials,' offering a comprehensive, globally harmonised methodology for classifying nanomaterials.
Nanotechnology deals with structures measuring in the range 1 to 100 nanometres. Applications are wide-ranging, from computer memory storage to sunscreens. Nanomaterials currently in existence exhibit various physical, chemical, mechanical, optical, magnetic and biological properties, as well as different internal/external structures.
Because scientists and researches in this new field have very diverse backgrounds and are working on different applications, there are now many divergent understandings and assumptions associated with emerging scientific concepts in this area. This is causing poor communication, lack of interoperability among systems and duplication of efforts.
ISO/TR 11360 introduces a system called the 'nano-tree,' which places nanotechnology concepts into a logical context by indicating relationships among them as a branching-out tree. The most basic and common elements are defined as the main trunk of the tree and nanomaterials are then differentiated in terms of structure, chemical nature and other properties.
Dr Peter Hatto, chairman of the committee that developed the standard (ISO/TC 229), comments: "The document provides users with a structured view of nanotechnology, and facilitates a common understanding of its concepts. It offers a systematic approach and a commonsensical hierarchy.
"The benefits for this emerging field are enormous. Most importantly, ISO/TR 11360 will promote clear and useful communication amongst industry consumers, governments and regulatory bodies".
The document will be useful to a wide range of scientific and engineering disciplines engaged in research, industry and government.
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