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Technical Activities Report

The Optical Technology Division's goal is providing the foundation for optical radiation measurements for our Nation. Thus, our programs focus on developing and providing national measurement standards and services to advance optical technologies spanning the terahertz through the infrared, visible, and ultraviolet spectral regions. 

Strategic Elements:
  • Maintain and advance optical radiation standards based on the SI units

  • Advance optical radiation measurement science to solve problems in critical and emerging technology areas of national importance

  • Disseminate optical radiation measurement technology and standards to industry, government, and academia

Optical measurement services

The Division builds and maintains world-class optical radiation measurement facilities to meet the continued and emerging needs for standards and specialized measurements by government and industry. These facilities are available to government and industry customers through formal calibration services, special tests, and standard reference materials available from NIST Technology Services, or through collaborative research efforts.

The Division maintains facilities for measuring optical properties such as reflectance, retroreflectance, transmittance, color, and gloss; for photometric measurements such as luminous intensity and color temperature; and for radiometric measurements such as spectral radiance, spectral irradiance, spectral power, detector responsivity, and radiance temperature. Additionally, the Division has highly specialized facilities for performing low-background radiometric measurements, for characterizing remote sensing instruments, for measuring the area of precision radiometric apertures, and for determining the absolute optical power, radiance, and irradiance spectral responsivities of instruments. New facilities are being developed to improve the measurement of the spectral reflectance and transmittance of materials and the measurement of far-infrared to near-infrared radiation for application to satellite remote sensing of weather and climate.

The Division strives to ensure the quality of these programs by publishing our research results and measurement methodologies (as NIST Special Publications and in outside, peer-reviewed archival journals), by participating in measurement comparisons with other laboratories, and by maintaining a measurement quality program. The Division aids good optical radiation measurement practice by developing general approaches to improve quality and reduce measurement time, by publishing training documents, and by offering formal, short courses in photometry, spectroradiometry, spectrophotometry, and radiation temperature measurement.


Hanssen_Reflectance_mod_thumbnailNationwide comparison of infrared reflectance measurements – In partnership with the Department of Defense, the Division led a campaign to assess the accuracy and comparability of infrared reflectance measurements routinely performed by government and aerospace...

Hanssen_SRM_sm2_thumbnailA best selling standard reference material – Standard Reference Material (SRM) 1921 is a calibration standard for Fourier-transform (FT) infrared spectrometers. Since its release for public sale in 1994, it has sold more than 4000 units to both U.S. and...

Datla_MDXR_Jung_thumbnailMissile-defense transfer radiometer ready for first deployment – In collaboration with the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), the Division has developed a new infrared transfer radiometer for the calibration of sensors and space chambers used in missile defense applications...


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General Information:
Gerald Fraser, Division Chief
301-975-3797 Telephone

Tina Pipes, Division Secretary
301-975-2316 Telephone

Arvella Kuehl, Administrative Specialist
301-975-2165 Telephone

100 Bureau Drive, M/S 8440
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8440
301-869-5700 Facsimile