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NIST workers using metrology equipment in a laboratory.


Researchers at NIST—including five Nobel Prize winners—have been at the forefront of science in the nation’s premier measurement institute for more than 120 years. Their groundbreaking research happens in six labs (listed below) and user facilities.

The directors of our labs report to NIST’s Associate Director for Laboratory Programs (ADLP). Additionally, the ADLP also manages our user facilities and several other offices that:

  • administer grants,
  • forge partnerships,
  • coordinate standards and
  • ensure our research follows all ethical principles. 

Communications Technology Laboratory

NIST researcher Jason Coder holds equipment while working in the National Broadband Interoperability Test Bed.
Credit: NIST

The Communications Technology Laboratory (CTL) promotes the development and deployment of advanced communications technologies through the conduct of leading-edge R&D on both the metrology and understanding of physical phenomena, materials capabilities, and complex systems relevant to advanced communications. We perform research on high-speed electronics, wireless systems metrology, antennas, network design and optimization, spectrum sharing and public safety communications. Learn more about CTL.

Engineering Laboratory

A woman holding a tablet looks up at a robot, while working in a lab at NIST.
Credit: NIST

The Engineering Laboratory (EL) promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness in areas of critical national priority by anticipating and meeting the measurement science and standards needs for technology-intensive manufacturing, construction and cyber-physical systems, including the Smart Grid Program Office, in ways that enhance economic prosperity and improve the quality of life. Learn more about EL.

Information Technology Laboratory

A woman uses a soldering iron to attach wires to a circuit board.
Credit: R. Press/NIST

The Information Technology Laboratory (ITL) develops and disseminates standards, measurements and testing for interoperability, security, usability and reliability of information systems, including cybersecurity standards and guidelines for federal agencies and U.S. industry, supporting these and measurement science at NIST through fundamental and applied research in computer science, mathematics and statistics. Learn more about ITL.

Material Measurement Laboratory

A woman (Diane Nelson) in a mask and lab coat works with plastic test tubes at a lab bench.
Credit: J. Izac/NIST

The Material Measurement Laboratory (MML) serves as the national reference laboratory for measurements in the chemical, biological and material sciences through activities ranging from fundamental and applied research to the development and dissemination of certified reference materials, critically evaluated data and other programs and tools to assure the quality of measurement results. MML is also responsible for coordinating the NIST-wide Standard Reference Material and Standard Reference Data programs. Learn more about MML.

NIST Center for Neutron Research

Employee works at a computer in NIST Center for Neutron Researcher, surrounded by large yellow window.
Credit: NIST

Researchers at the NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR) use cold and thermal neutron measurement capabilities to conduct their research. The facility also serves as a national user facility for researchers from academia, industry and other government agencies. Learn more about the NCNR.

Physical Measurement Laboratory

NIST's Andrew Wilson holds an ion trap in his lab in Boulder, Colorado. Behind him are screens depicting dots.
Credit: R. Jacobson/NIST

The Physical Measurement Laboratory (PML) is a world leader in the science of measurement. We set the definitive U.S. standards for nearly every kind of measurement employed in commerce and research, provide NIST-traceable calibrations, and disseminate standards and best practices throughout the nation. Learn more about PML.

Created July 7, 2015, Updated January 23, 2024