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Alan Migdall (Fed)

Migdall's current interests broadly cover quantum optics with research related to single-photon sources, detectors, processors, and quantum memory for quantum cryptography and quantum computation. Specific efforts involve correlated two-photon light (, nonlinear optics, parametric downconversion, Raman scattering, microstructure fibers, multi-particle entanglement, randomness generation, and classical and quantum metrology.

Migdall leads the Quantum Optics Group of the Quantum Measurement Division at NIST. He is a fellow of the Joint Quantum Institute at the University of Maryland and a fellow of the American Physical Society. He has organized a number of conferences and workshops on single photon detector and source technologies, as well as the applications and metrology of that technology. He founded the Single Photon Workshop, which debuted at NIST in Gaithersburg in 2003 and has continued biannually at metrology and national labs in the US and around the world. He was editor of a book entitled Single Photon Generation and Detection.

Migdall has been part of a number of science outreach efforts including the OSA Eastman/Presidential Speaker program, giving lectures at numerous universities and colleges, as well as local high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools. He has provided research opportunities for graduate, undergraduate, and high school students. In addition, he was the science advisor for a National Academy of Sciences middle school optics curriculum program.

Migdall began his career at NIST with an NRC postdoctoral fellowship in laser cooling and trapping of neutral atoms, was made a fellow of the American Physical Society in 2007, awarded a NIST Bronze medal in 2009 for his efforts in single photon technology, in 2013 and 2015 awarded patents related to single photon technology, and in 2016 was part of the team that was awarded a Commerce Dept. Gold medal for the long-sought goal of achieving a very strong test rejecting local realistic models as possible alternatives to quantum mechanics.

Honors and Awards

  • Embassy Science Fellow (Toronto), 2020
  • Optical Society of America Fellow, 2019
  • U. S. Dept. of Commerce Gold Medal Award, 2016      
  • Paul Ehrenfest Best Paper Award for Quantum Foundations, 2015
  • Sigma Xi member, 2011
  • U. S. Dept. of Commerce Bronze Medal Award, 2009
  • American Physical Society Fellow, 2007
  • NRC Postdoctoral Fellowship, 1984-1986

Related Links

Selected Publications


Single-photon Sources and Detectors Dictionary

Joshua Bienfang, Thomas Gerrits, Paulina Kuo, Alan Migdall, Sergey Polyakov, Oliver T. Slattery
The intention of this dictionary is to define relevant terms and metrics used in the characterization of single-photon detectors and sources with the goal to
Created May 31, 2018, Updated April 17, 2023