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Innovations in Measurement Science (+$3 million)

photo of NIST researchers
NIST researchers funded through a measurement innovation program have invented techniques to quantify the properties of new materials, such as electricity-conducting plastics, which have a wide range of potential consumer applications.
©Robert Rathe


Just as industry must innovate to survive in a competitive environment, NIST must continually develop innovative approaches to measurement challenges.

As new science and technology areas emerge, NIST must quickly develop the measurement methods needed to support them. The Innovations in Measurement Science Program is one of NIST’s primary mechanisms for keeping pace with the measurement requirements needed for innovation in U.S. industry.

Established in 1979, the program supports high-risk, leading-edge research projects that anticipate industry needs and develop measurement science for the next generation of technology. At some point in their careers, all three of NIST’s Nobel laureates have had their research funded by this program. Current NIST expertise in quantum information science, fuel cell science, three dimensional chemical imaging, and many other areas important to national priorities were launched with “measurement innovations” funding.

Proposed NIST Program

This initiative will expand the scope and nature of projects selected for the Innovations in Measurement Science Program to allow this program to keep better pace with the evolving needs of industry and science. Emphasis will be placed on the development of multidisciplinary research areas with the greatest potential for fostering innovation.

The NIST Laboratories carefully evaluate the technical merit, potential impact, and staff qualifications for detailed research proposals submitted by the NIST technical staff. Only the strongest proposals survive this evaluation process. Successful proposals are funded for five years—ensuring enough time for the innovative measurement science approach to be developed—and are reviewed throughout the program to ensure satisfactory progress.

Expected Impacts

The expanded Innovations in Measurement Science Program will ensure that NIST can continue to anticipate the measurement science and standards needs of U.S. industry and science.

Specific outcomes include:

  • new measurements and standards for advanced technology industries, including semiconductors, biotechnology, telecommunications, and information technology;

  • state-of-the-art support for measurements in mature industry sectors such as the motor vehicle, heavy equipment, and aircraft industries;

  • research and development in support of emerging and future industry measurement needs such as those found in nanotechnology.