Project Details Terminology of Nanomaterials and Nanotechnology in Polymer Science

Project No.:
Start Date:
01 February 2012
End Date:
Division Name:
Polymer Division
Division No.:


To identify and define the terminology that is idiosyncratic to all aspects of the application of polymers in nanotechnology and in particular to high resolution sub-micron lithography.

See also project 2007-040-2-200 ‘Analysis of the usage of nanoscience and technology in chemistry’ – Although that project might be seen as a first step towards recommendations on the use of chemistry terminology related to nanoscience and nanotechnology, its scope is confined to the mapping and critical evaluation the use of the prefix nano in various fields of chemistry.


With the advent of the application of polymers in high resolution microlithography in the 1970s and thereafter the development of the all-embracing nanotechnology of the late 1980s, terms that are unfamiliar to polymer and materials chemists find ubiquitous use.
Nevertheless, it is polymer science and material science that lead progress in these fields and by now scientists need a ready reference to the exact definitions of the unfamiliar terms that they will come across. Typically, microlithographers commonly use terms such as sensitivity, contrast, resolution and dry etch resistance, and refer to techniques such as solvent development, aqueous-base development and oxygen reactive ion etching. However, the explosion in so-called nanomaterials has added even less familiar terminology. What, for example, is the correct definition of a nanostructure, a nanotube, a nanocomposite, a polymer nanofibre, a nanospintronic device or nanoencapsulation? What is iontophoresis, superparamagnetism or plasma-enhanced chemical vapour deposition? These and many other terms are now commonplace but precise definitions have never been compiled in one place for the benefit of polymer scientists and materials chemists.

Most materials of relevance are either polymers or other materials (usually inorganic) in a polymer environment, and the relevant technology invariably involves the manipulation of polymeric materials. Hence, this project will be led from within the Sub-committee on Polymer Terminology. The Interdivisional Sub-committee on Materials Chemistry will be closely involved to ensure that there will be no development of definitions that might conflict with those arising from future
activities in its arena.


July 2012 – project announcement published in Chem. Int. July-Aug 2012, p. 22.

May 2016 update –  The task group has identified most of the terms needing definition and is now finalizing and formatting the report. One of the project outcome will include a separate set of recommendations covering microlithography.

January 2019 update – The provisional recommendations titled “Terminology of Polymers in Advanced Lithography” is available for public review till 31 May 2020.

Page last update 21 Jan 2020