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Optical Radiation Group

Maintains, improves, and disseminates the Nation's radiometric and photometric scales for the measurement of optical radiation.

The group’s mission is to maintain, improve, and disseminate the Nation's radiometric and photometric scales for the measurement of optical radiation. The group members participate in national and international standards organizations and intercomparisons to ensure acceptance of U.S. optical radiation standards; conduct research to advance the calibration and validation of optical remote-sensing instruments, the measurement of the photometric performance of the human vision system. Applications include manufacturing, remote sensing, solid-state lighting, defense, and homeland security.


  • Documentary Standards
    The group’s staff actively participate in and lead the development of Documentary Standards through various Standards Developing Organizations (SDOs) by providing the necessary expertise, fundamental measurement science and advanced technologies. We engage with the following SDOs: NEMA, ASTM, CIE, IES, ISO, ASHRAE, IEEE-IAS, IEC, & ASABE.


The Optical Radiation Group welcomes opportunities to collaborate on joint research, technology, and standards development projects to advance the characterization of the photometry and radiometry. The group provides multiple opportunities for students, scientists, industry, academia, and other R&D laboratories to collaborate. Specific opportunities depend on current areas of interest within the Group, but may include undergraduate research fellowship, postdoctoral fellowships, visiting scientist, and guest researchers as well as various cooperative research arrangements ranging from formal agreements, such as CRADA, Consortia, and interagency agreements, to informal collaborations. For more details, see Employment and Internship Opportunities and Collaboration Opportunities.

Projects and Programs

Aperture area measurements

Radiometric and photometric measurements require defining apertures. The accuracy to which these measurements can be accomplished requires minimization of the

Detector metrology

High performance optical radiometers with selected optical detectors are being designed, characterized, and calibrated in the Optical Radiation Group for the

Detector-based color scale

Until recently calibrations of tristimulus colorimeters were performed against lamp standards. However, the uncertainty of these source-based calibrations

Tools and Instruments

Spectral comparator facilities

Visible to near-infrared spectral comparator facility (Vis/NIR SCF) The Vis/NIR SCF is a monochromator-based system that typically measures the spectral power

News and Updates

Seeking COVID’s Kryptonite

To disinfect a surface, you can illuminate it with a blast of ultraviolet (UV) light, which is bluer than the human eye can see. But to specifically inactivate

Shrinking (Ultra)Violet

While awaiting full access to their labs due to COVID-19 restrictions, scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have taken this


Improved shadow correction for the Marine Optical BuoY, MOBY

Kenneth Voss, Edouard Leymarie, Stephanie Flora, B. Carol Johnson, Arthur Gleason, Mark Yarbrough, Michael Feinholz, Terrance Houlihan
A 3-D instrument self-shading correction has been developed for the MOBY upwelling radiance measurements. This correction was tested using the 23 year time

Recent research and development in photometry at NIST

Yuqin Zong, Maria Nadal, Benjamin K. Tsai, C Cameron Miller
Many developments were made in recent years in photometry at NIST for reducing measurement uncertainties, increasing calibration efficiencies, and adding


Yuqin Zong, Ping-Shine Shaw, Joseph Rice, C Cameron Miller
To shorten the long calibration chain when using the conventional source-based approach and therefore to reduce spectroradiometer's calibration uncertainty, we


Press Coverage


Group Leader

Office Manager