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The NIST Traceable Reference Material Program for Wavelength Reference Absorption Cells



Timothy J. Drapela, Sarah L. Gilbert, William C. Swann, Chih-Ming Wang


A program is described by which commercially produced wavelength-calibration gas-absorption cells may be related to primary standards maintained by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Standard Reference Materials produced by NIST. Currently NIST produces four absorption-cell SRMs for calibration of wavelengths in the 1510 nm to 1630 nm optical-fiber communications region: acetylene 12C2H2 (SRM 2517a; 1510 nm to 1540 nm), hydrogen cyanide H13C14N (SRM 2519; 1530 nm to 1560 nm), carbon monoxide 12C16O (SRM 2514; 1560 nm to 1595 nm), and carbon monoxide 13C16O (SRM 2515; 1595 nm to 1630 nm). The commercially produced gas absorption cells, referred to as NIST-Traceable Reference Materials (NTRMs), must be similar to NIST standards, and the pressure of the certified absorption cells must be within a range that NIST has characterized. Although the NTRM gas absorption cells are produced and distributed by commercial vendors, the pressure and wavelength value assignments and respective uncertainties are determined by NIST. The responsibilities of the producer and NIST are detailed in this document, along with NTRM specifications and evaluation procedures. Appendices are included for the preparation of NTRMs related to various SRMs.
Special Publication (NIST SP) -


absorption, molecular spectroscopy, NIST Traceable Reference Material, NTRM, optical fiber communication, SRM, Standard Reference Material, wavelength calibration, wavelength reference


Drapela, T. , Gilbert, S. , Swann, W. and Wang, C. (2003), The NIST Traceable Reference Material Program for Wavelength Reference Absorption Cells, Special Publication (NIST SP), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD (Accessed June 22, 2024)


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Created July 31, 2003, Updated October 12, 2021