a 6 μm diameter carbon filament,
compared to 50 μm diameter human hair
|1 μm in ...||... is equal to ...|
|SI units||×10−6 m1|
|Natural units|| ×1028 6.1877ℓP
|imperial/US units|| 3.2808×10−6 ft
The micrometre (International spelling as used by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures; SI symbol: μm) or micrometer (American spelling), also commonly known as a micron, is an SI derived unit of length equaling 1×10−6 of a metre (SI standard prefix "micro-" = 10−6); that is, one millionth of a metre (or one thousandth of a millimetre, 0.001 mm, or about 0.000039 inch). The symbol μm is sometimes rendered as um if the symbol μ cannot be used, or if the writer is not aware of the distinction.
The micrometre is a common unit of measurement for wavelengths of infrared radiation as well as sizes of biological cells and bacteria and is also commonly used in plastics manufacturing. Micrometres are the standard for grading wool (referring to the diameter of wool fibres). Any wool finer than 25 μm can be used for garments, whilst coarser grades are used for outerwear, rugs, and carpets. The width of a single human hair ranges from approximately 10 to 200 μm.
Between 1 μm and 10 μm:
- 1–10 μm – diameter of a typical bacterium
- 5 μm – length of a typical human spermatozoon's head 
- 3–8 μm – width of strand of spider web silk
- about 10 μm – size of a fog, mist or cloud water droplet
Between 10 μm and 100 μm
- 10 to 55 μm – width of wool fibre
- 17 to 171 μm – diameter of human hair 
- 70 to 180 μm – thickness of paper
The term micron and the symbol μ were officially accepted for use in isolation to denote the micrometre, between 1879 and 1967, but officially revoked by the International System of Units (SI) in 1967. This was necessary because that older usage became incompatible with the official adoption of the unit prefix micro-, denoted μ, during the creation of the SI in 1960. In the SI, the systematic name micrometre became the official name of the unit, and μm became the official unit symbol.
Nevertheless, in practice, "micron" remains a widely used term in preference to "micrometre" in many English-speaking countries, both in academic science (including geology, biology, physics, and astronomy) and in applied science and industry (including machining, the semiconductor industry, and plastics manufacturing). Additionally, in American English the use of "micron" helps differentiate the unit from the micrometer, a measuring device, because the unit's name in mainstream American spelling is a homograph of the device's name. (In spoken English they may be distinguished by pronunciation, as despite being homographs they are not homophones; the name of the measuring device is invariably stressed on the second syllable, whereas the systematic pronunciation of the unit name, in accordance with the convention for pronouncing SI units in English, places the stress on the first syllable.)
This older usage was pluralized either as "microns" or "micra", the latter being arguably more correct, although that debate became less relevant after 1967, as the micron and its plural forms have been deprecated for almost half a century.
The official symbol for the SI prefix micro- is a Greek lowercase mu (μ). In Unicode, there is also a micro sign with the codepoint U+00B5 (µ), distinct from the codepoint U+03BC (μ) of the Greek letter lowercase mu, so that machines can recognize it as the SI prefix symbol rather than as a letter. According to The Unicode Consortium, the Greek letter character is preferred, but implementations must recognize the micro sign as well. Most fonts use the same glyph for the two characters.
|Look up micrometre in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
Notes and references
- "micrometre". Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
- "Wool Fibre". "NSW Department of Education and Communities". Retrieved 18 May 2014.
- Smith, D.J. (2009). "Human sperm accumulation near surfaces: a simulation study" (PDF). Journal of Fluid Mechanics 621: 295. doi:10.1017/S0022112008004953. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
- Gordon Ramel. "Spider Silk". Archived from the original on 4 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-04.
garden spider silk has a diameter of about 0.003 mm ... Dragline silk (about .00032 inch (.008 mm) in Nephila)
- IST - Innovative Sintering Technologies Ltd. "Fibreshape applications". Retrieved 2008-12-04.
Histogram of cotton thickness
- According to The Physics Factbook, the diameter of human hair ranges from 17 to 181 μm. Ley, Brian (1999). "Width of a Human Hair". The Physics Factbook.
- BIPM - Resolution 7 of the 13th CGPM (1967/68), "Abrogation of earlier decisions (micron, new candle.)"
- "Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland". google.com.br.
- "The Observer". google.com.br.
- Prefixes of the International System of Units, International Bureau of Weights and Measures (page visited on 9 May 2016).
- Unicode Technical Report #25