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Atomic Spectroscopy Group


The program in atomic spectroscopy at NIST provides accurate reference data on spectral lines and energy levels for a wide variety of important applications. Our spectrometers, among the most powerful of their type in the world, can record spectra from the extreme ultraviolet (wavelength = 1 nm) to the infrared (wavelength = 18 000 nm) and include a 10.7 m normal-incidence spectrograph, a 10.7 m grazing incidence spectrograph, a high resolution Fourier transform spectrometer, and a high accuracy Fabry-Pérot laser wavemeter. The Data Center compiles wavelengths, energy levels, and transition probabilities that support numerous applications in industry and the scientific community.

The Atomic Spectroscopy Group at NIST has a long history of contributions to optical science and metrology. Please read Joseph Reader's report on the group's history for more information.

Group Members

Job opportunities:
Division Postdoctoral Positions


Spectroscopy of Engineered Atoms—Experiments with atomic systems designed to have features more favorable for improved measurements of atomic properties and constants of nature.

Electron Beam Ion Trap (EBIT) Facility—The NIST EBIT Facility is used to investigate the science and applications of highly charged ions.

Atomic Spectroscopy Data Center —Critical compilations of atomic energy levels, transition wavelengths, and transition probabilities. Online databases.

Technical Highlights Atomic Physics Division—The strategy of the Atomic Physics Division is to develop and apply atomic physics research methods, and particulary the interaction between atoms and electromagnetic fields, to achieve fundamental …

High-Resolution Atomic Spectroscopy—Accurate measurements of atomic transitions using diffraction grating spectrographs, Fourier transform spectrometers, and laser spectroscopy.

Plasma Metrology—Measurement techniques in support of commercial and scientific uses of plasmas.



From left: Jacob Ward (Arizona State University), Marco Hamins-Puertola (St. Mary's College of Maryland), Michael Jurrens (Winston Churchill High School), William McGrew (Juniata College), Matthew Weston-Dawes (Winston Churchill High School), Michael Katz  (Montgomery Blair High School). Front Row from left: Joey Smiga  (Poolesville High School) and Prajwal Keranahalli (Poolesville High School). 

  • This summer we are very lucky to have a group of excellent, dedicated students who volunteered their time and energy to make a difference in Physics. Thank you for your help, colleagues!





Alexander Kramida (center) talks with Montgomery College students Thomas Carpentier (left) and Eric Carpentier (right).

  • Uses and Users of NIST's Atomic Spectra Database, The online Atomic Spectra Database (ASD) provides the most authoritative information about atomic spectra available anywhere, and it is used by researchers worldwide. But how wide, exactly, is that world? What elements and wavelengths are in highest demand by different groups? And how can the ASD better serve its user community?






  • Lights, Atoms and Nuclei: The Optical Discovery of Deuterium, a recent article on the discovery of deuterium and the significance of deuterium lamps for calibration, written by Charles W. Clark and Joseph Reader and published in the May 2012 issues of Optics & Photonics News (OPN), the monthly news magazine of the Optical Society of America. 







Past News


Technical inquiries:
National Institute of Standards and Technology
Bldg. 221, Rm. A139
100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8422
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8422