Awardee Interviews | Biography: Steven Blankenship

Steven Blankenship

Mr. Steven R. Blankenship, NIST, “for outstanding contributions to the scanning tunneling microscopy user facilities and other laboratories at the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology at the National Institute of Standards and Technology”

Steve Blankenship is an Instrumentation Specialist in the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology (CNST) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Maryland. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from the University of Mary Washington in 1995, and a M.S. degree in Physics from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1999. Steve began his training in surface physics under the guidance of Dr. John A. Carlisle at Virginia Commonwealth University with thesis research focused on the electronic structure of the clean and silver covered Si(5 5 12) surfaces.

Following graduation, Mr. Blankenship accepted a position in the Electron Physics Group (EPG) at NIST in Gaithersburg, where he began his career providing vacuum instrumentation and computer-aided design (CAD) support to a variety of research programs. On the establishment of the CNST in 2007, Steve’s role expanded to providing technical assistance to a wide range of physicists, materials scientists, electrical engineers, and chemists. Steve’s surface science background coupled with his engineering expertise has led to the design and construction of state-of-the-art experimental apparatus and instruments within the CNST. His main achievements center on contributions to the design and construction of scanning tunneling microscopy systems that operate at cryogenic temperatures and high magnetic fields. These include two systems operating at 4 K and one dilution refrigerator based-system operating at 10 mK. His contributions include UHV cryogenic inserts, complex vacuum systems, vibrational isolation components, e-beam evaporators, and many custom parts and components. Steve’s responsibilities include maintaining a variety of vacuum systems within the CNST, 3D CAD design of complex components for unique experimental systems, and interacting with machine shops and vendors to ensure one-of-a-kind parts and components are fabricated to specification. He also serves as the CNST research safety representative where he ensures the safe operation and design of experimental apparatus and infrastructure within the CNST laboratories. Steve’s knowledge and abilities allow him to assist CSNT staff with all phases of diverse experimental design, construction, system maintenance, and troubleshooting of complex problems. His contributions to the CNST research program are widely acknowledged in CNST publications.