A consortium of chipmakers and metrology-tool companies are evaluating new measurement capabilities to support the next generation of microchips. The proposed reference material is intended to be used by U.S. chipmakers to calibrate microchip measuring equipment for accurate assessments of features as tiny as 1/1,000th the width of a human hair. It represents the development efforts of Sandia National Laboratories, Sematech, and the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST), Gaithersburg, Md. "That dimension meets the semiconductor industry's requirement for the next several generations of integrated circuits," says Michael Cresswell of the Semiconductor Electronics Div. in NIST's Electronics & Electrical Engineering Laboratory.