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Sensor Science Division

The Division advances the measurement science, standards, and applications for dimensional, optical radiation, and thermodynamic quantities to support U.S. industry and trade. We maintain and disseminate standards for three of the seven SI base units: the kelvin (temperature), the meter (length), and the candela (luminous intensity).

Welcome to the Sensor Science Division

The Sensor Science Division (SSD) is based in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and operates within the Physical Measurement Laboratory at NIST.

Our Vision is to be the primary driver for innovation in the SI-traceable measurement of dimensional, thermodynamic, optical radiation, fluid flow, and air speed quantities. Our work enables the next generation of equitable standards to promote US economic growth and security.

Our Mission is to foster the next generation of SI-traceable dimensional, thermodynamic, optical radiation, fluid flow, and air speed measurements and their application by providing calibrations, standards, and innovations that improve U.S. industrial competitiveness and quality-of-life.

SSD has institutional responsibility for the realization and dissemination of 3 of the 7 base units of the International System of Units (SI): the meter, the kelvin, and the candela. To promote world-wide standardization, SSD staff engage with the Consultative Committees for Length (CCL), for Mass and Related Quantities (CCM), for Photometry and Radiometry (CCPR), and for Thermometry (CCT) under the International Committee for Weights and Measures (CIPM). This participation helps ensure the international comparability and international recognition of the SI-based measurements and standards disseminated by the Division. As pictured below, the division is divided into 3 technical areas which align with these 3 base SI units.

sensor science division flowchart

The division provides measurement science, reference materials, reference data, and technologies to foster innovation and confidence in measurements needed to advance these fields. In partnership with U.S. industry, government agencies, and scientific institutions, SSD performs fundamental and applied research on the measurement of length; temperature; infrared-to-extreme-ultraviolet radiation; pressure and vacuum; surface and interface optical and dimensional properties; gas and liquid flow; liquid volume; and humidity.

Focus Areas

News and Updates


Press Coverage


Mueller Matrix Ellipsometer

NIST Inventors
Thomas A. Germer
Embodiments of the present invention relate to an ellipsometer that includes a combination of a plurality of reflective devices to measure a Mueller matrix reflectance of a material in the VUV and EUV region. Ellipsometer in accordance with embodiments of the present invention relate to an

Photonic Thermometer Module Assembly And Performing Photonic Thermometry

NIST Inventors
Nikolai Klimov , Tobias Herman and Zeeshan Ahmed
A photonic thermometer module assembly includes: a sheath; a sheath bottom plug; a sheath top flange; a top sealing flange; a heat exchanger; a photonic thermometer disposed on the heat exchanger such that the photonic thermometer determines a temperature of the sheath; and an optical fiber array in

Photonic Bolometer And Performing Broadband High-Absorption Photonic Bolometry

NIST Inventors
Nikolai Klimov , Nathan A Tomlin and Chris Yung
A photonic bolometer includes: a photonic chip; a weak thermal link; a thermally-isolated member, and the weak thermal link thermally isolates the thermally-isolated member from the photonic chip; a photonic temperature sensor; a chip waveguide in optical communication with the photonic temperature


Division Chief

Office Manager