The National Institute of Standards and Technology was founded in 1901 and is now part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. NIST is one of the nation’s oldest physical science laboratories. Congress established the agency to remove a major challenge to U.S. industrial competitiveness at the time—a second-rate measurement infrastructure that lagged behind the capabilities of the United Kingdom, Germany, and other economic rivals.
From the smart electric power grid and electronic health records to atomic clocks, advanced nanomaterials, and computer chips, innumerable products and services rely in some way on technology, measurement, and standards provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Today, NIST measurements support the smallest of technologies to the largest and most complex of human-made creations—from nanoscale devices so tiny that tens of thousands can fit on the end of a single human hair up to earthquake-resistant skyscrapers and global communication networks.
This website was developed by the Penn Program on Regulation (PPR) under the direction of Cary Coglianese, PPR’s Director and the Edward B. Shils Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. The materials contained in this website were prepared using federal funds under awards 70NANB15H343 and 70NANB15H344 from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), U.S. Department of Commerce. Any statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author or authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of NIST or the U.S. Department of Commerce.