Wavelength Standards

  • Kenneth M. Baird
Part of the Physics of Atoms and Molecules book series (PAMO)


The measurement of wavelengths has long been a fundamental part of spectroscopy. While it is true that the spectroscopist is interested primarily in energy-level differences, these are observed as emitted radiation frequencies which are related through the velocity of light to wavelengths and traditionally have been measured as wavelengths. With the development of modern spectroscopy, wavelengths are measured over a range extending from picometers to centimeters, requiring a wide variety of techniques, instruments, and detectors, of which no single combination can be used to cover a very large fraction of the spectrum. Because of this, spectroscopy requires, in addition to a primary standard, an extensive system of secondary standards in order to provide a common absolute scale over the whole spectrum. Such a system has resulted from the contributions of a great many individual workers, as well as laboratories such as the U.S. Natlonal Bureau of Standards and has benefited from coordination by international bodies such as the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the Inter-Union Commission on Spectroscopy of ICSU, and the International Committee of Weights and Measures (CIPM). These organizations report the continual updating and extension of the system of wavelengths standards.(1–3)


Hyperfine Structure Primary Standard Secondary Standard Absorption Tube International Astronomical Union 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth M. Baird
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of PhysicsNational Research Council of CanadaOttawaCanada

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