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Michelle Stephens (Fed)


Michelle Stephens leads the Photonic Radiometry Project in the Sources and Detectors Group at NIST. In 2023 she is on detail to NIST’s Program Coordination Office. This project works to develop the next generation of high-accuracy optical power measurement standards for laser powers from femtowatts to hundreds of milliwatts, and is developing microfabricated bolometers for space-based measurements of the Earth Radiation Budget. The project has developed a family of chip-scale bolometric standards that provide accurate , SI-traceable measurements of optical power with robust, micro-fabricated detectors.

Dr. Stephens received a B.S. and a Ph.D. in Physics from MIT. For her graduate work she developed seismic isolation systems for laser interferometric gravitational wave detectors. After a postdoc at JILA, studying efficient laser cooling and trapping of Cs and Rb. she joined the Time and Frequency Division at NIST. After two years, she moved to a high-tech start-up company. The company failed after a year, but that was the beginning of an 18-year career in industry. She worked 5 years in R&D and metrology at Research Electro-Optics, a manufacturer of precision optics, and 12 years at Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation as an instrument systems engineer on several technology development efforts and Earth remote sensing instrument missions. She returned to NIST in 2015.


Single Photon Detectors and Metrology

Sonia Buckley, Michelle Stephens, John H. Lehman
For quantum applications, it is important to generate quantum states of light and detect them with extremely high efficiency. For future applications, it also

Patents (2018-Present)

A disk-shaped device is smaller than the half-dollar coin underneath it.

Smart Mirror

NIST Inventors
Alexandra (Aly) Artusio-Glimpse , John H. Lehman , Michelle Stephens , Nathan A Tomlin and Paul A. Williams
Radiation pressure is a force that results when light reflects from a mirror. By measuring the force on a mirror, the power in a laser beam can be assessed. We have invented a miniaturized mirrored force sensor that combines several key elements to make a sensor that is smaller, faster, more
Created March 26, 2019, Updated May 10, 2023