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SURF Research Opportunities for 2015

Application deadline is February 13, 2015.


Applied Chemicals and Materials Division

647-1 Development of Practical Alternative Fuels
Thomas J. Bruno, 303-497-5158, thomas.bruno [at] nist.gov
The best method to study the phase properties of biofuels is the composition-explicit distillation curve developed at NIST. The technique provides an energy content channel in addition to the volatility of a fuel. We have applied this method to biodiesel, and this summer we will extend this to include aviation fuels. A SURF student working on this will become expert at gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, and many other analytical techniques. Contact adviser for more details.

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647-2 Vapor Generation and Analysis in Forensic Sciences
Thomas J. Bruno, 303-497-5158, thomas.bruno [at] nist.gov
A new, very high sensitivity method to generate and analyze vapors is pyrolysis cryoadsorption, recently developed at NIST. It has been used to test for explosives, cosmetics, fuel additives, etc. We will extend this to the detection of pollutants, often the result of illegal dumping. A SURF student working on this will become expert at gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, and many other analytical techniques. Contact adviser for more details.

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647-3 Your Risk from Brominated Fire Retardants
Jason A Widegren, 303-497-5207, jason.widegren [at] nist.gov
Fire retardants such as brominated diphenyl ethers have been added to the foams, fabrics, and polymers in consumer products. They have come under increasing regulatory scrutiny. The primary exposure route is through the vapor phase, but the vapor pressures of such fire retardants are not well known. The student will measure vapor pressures for these compounds with a vapor pressure measurement technique developed at NIST, and use a variety of analytical techniques including GC and NMR.

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647-4 Peptide-Enabled Nanomaterials for Energy and Environmental Applications
Nicholas Bedford, 303-497-6856, nicholas.bedford [at] nist.gov
Bimetallic nanomaterials are of increasing technological interest, exhibiting enhanced properties in various applications relevant to energy and the environment. In an effort to optimize bimetallic nanoparticle properties, we mimic biomineralization pathways found in nature using peptide-enabled synthesis methods. A SURF student will have the opportunity to learn new nanoparticle synthesis techniques and learn how to operate various nanomaterials characterization instruments.

647-5 Locating Engineered Nanoparticles for Nanomedicine
Kavita Jeerage, 303-497-4968, kavita.jeerage [at] nist.gov
Next-generation nanomedicine will consist of nanoparticle-based therapies (e.g., drug or gene therapy) that penetrate targeted cell populations. We have developed new methods for locating and tracking gold nanoparticles in neural progenitor cells by correlating optical and electron microscopies. The student involved in this project will learn how to image neural progenitor cells by fluorescence microscopy and optical tomography and will perform cell scoring analysis on the resulting images.

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647-6 Experimental Determination of Chemical Equilibrium Constants
Thomas Duster, 303-497-3486, thomas.duster [at] nist.gov
Potentiometric titration and surface complexation modeling are complementary tools for characterizing chemical properties of nanomaterials and their potential for use in water treatment applications. Using this combination of experimental and computational techniques, the SURF student will collect titration data and then calculate site concentrations and acidity constants for reactive functional groups at the nanomaterial surface. These values are critical inputs for process control models.

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647-8 Physical measurements of microbes on resonating platforms
Danielle France, 303-497-6538, danielle.france [at] nist.gov
As bacteria interact with different surfaces and with their chemical environments, they exhibit physical behaviors that we can sense with the right measurement tools. This project is developing a new measurement tool for biology based on resonating quartz crystals. Students will learn microbiological culturing, microscopy and image analysis, and new instrumentation development. Impacts of this work range from testing new materials and coatings to stopping the spread of antibiotic resistance.


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Public Safety Communications Research Division

671-1 Next-Generation First Responder
Tracy A. McElvaney, 303-487-5925, tracy.mcelvaney [at] nist.gov
The Next-Generation First Responder should be connected, protected, and fully aware. The NIST-PSCR division is developing areas of research in wearable technology, embedded sensors, and personal and incident area networking. A SURF student working on this project will help develop a technology demonstration of the Next-Generation First Responder and will apply skills and abilities to leverage communications technology to help those who help others. Contact advisor for more details.

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671-2 Next-Generation Public Safety User Interfaces
Tracy A. McElvaney, 303-497-5925, tracy.mcelvaney [at] nist.gov
Smartphones, tablets, and broadband-enabled computer-aided dispatch systems are becoming common tools for public safety first responders. The NIST-PSCR division is developing research areas in support of Next-Generation First Responder user interfaces. A SURF student working on this project will apply skills and abilities related to graphical and application programming interfaces designed to meet Next-Generation First Responder needs. Contact advisor for more details.

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671-3 Bridging Land Mobile Radio and LTE Public Safety Systems
Tracy A. McElvaney, 303-497-5925, tracy.mcelvaney [at] nist.gov
A national public safety broadband network is under construction. Because significant investment has been made in land mobile radio (LMR) communication networks by state and local governments, a need exists to bridge communications between LMR and broadband technologies. A SURF student working on this project will apply skills and abilities related to LMR and LTE communications while supporting the demonstration of technology-bridging solutions. Contact advisor for more details.

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671-4 Mission-Critical Communications Over Broadband Technologies
Tracy A. McElvaney, 303-497-5925, tracy.mcelvaney [at] nist.gov
The introduction of a national public safety broadband network introduces a new and unique challenge. Can mission-critical communications be conducted over a broadband network? The SURF student working on this project will apply skills and abilities related to voice-over-LTE operation as well as begin to explore the challenges and opportunities of establishing mission-critical communications requirements. Contact advisor for more details.


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RF Technology Division

672-1 Development of a Metrology-Grade Wi-Fi Network
Jason Coder, 303-497-4670, jason.coder [at] nist.gov
We are developing a metrology-grade wireless network for use in interference/coexistence research. Our goal is to have a Wi-Fi (e.g., 802.11n/ac) network in which we can control all of the parameters (channel, QoS, MIMO, throughput, etc.). The student will develop software scripts to control the access point (AP) parameters, analyze its performance, and evaluate the accuracy of the AP reported data. The successful candidate is likely an EE, CE, or CS major with MATLAB and/or LabView experience.

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672-2 High-Speed Measurements for 5G Wireless
Paul Hale, 303-497-5367, paul.hale [at] nist.gov
Our team is developing methods for calibrating high frequency signal generation and measurement equipment. Part of this work requires characterization of real radio frequency and mm-wave equipment and environments. The student will make measurements with various radio equipment that will be used in 5G wireless communications and analyze the data. The successful candidate is likely studying EE, CS, or physics with MatLab and/or LabView experience.

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672-3 Channel Measurements at 28 GHz and 83 GHz
Kate Remley, 303-497-3652, kate.remley [at] nist.gov
Assist NIST researchers in conducting measurements of wireless propagation channels in several interesting environments including public buildings, offices, and outdoor urban environments such as Denver, CO. The data from these measurements will be collected with NIST's new robotic system and will be used to develop standards for the next generation of wireless cellular communication systems.

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672-4 Electromagnetic Response of Nanoparticles in Microfluidic Channels
James C. Booth, 303-497-7900, james.booth [at] nist.gov
Personalized medicine and access to healthcare are driving forces in the global economy. We have developed a chip-based electromagnetic measurement technique from 100 Hz to 100 GHz, which opens new research opportunities at the interface between bioengineering and physics. A SURF participant will perform high frequency measurement, learn microfluidic fabrication, measure novel materials (proteins, biomolecules, and nanoparticles), and gain hands-on experience with computer programing.

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672-5 Novel High-Throughput Measurement for Telecommunications
James C. Booth, 303-497-7900, james.booth [at] nist.gov
Demand for mobile data, the implementation of new wireless devices, and an explosion of users has stressed our telecommunications infrastructure to its limits. In an effort to address the problem of spectrum crunch, there is a need for new materials and measurements to disrupt convention. A SURF participant will develop new electromagnetic characterization techniques, use various imaging tools, measure novel adaptive materials, and gain hands-on experience with finite-element simulations.


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Quantum Electronics and Photonics Division

686-1 Single-Photon Sources and Detectors
Marty Stevens, 303-497-4740, martin.stevens [at] nist.gov
Our group performs measurements at the lowest possible light levels, using semiconductor quantum dots as single-photon sources, and superconducting nanowires as single-photon detectors. We are working to improve the efficiency and fidelity of these single-photon sources for applications such as creating entangled photons and generating other quantum states of light. This work will allow a student to develop laboratory skills in single-photon optical spectroscopy and high-speed electronics.

686-2 Spatial Light Modulation
Jeeseong Hwang, 303-497-6588, jeeseong.hwang@nist.gov
Spatial light modulators produce image patterns with controlled light spectra. This project will focus on the use of spatial light modulators to enhance image contrast in microscopy and other imaging technologies. The project will include developing low contrast images, recording images, developing image processing algorithms, and reprojecting images with enhanced contrast. Candidates should have skills in LabView and MATLAB programming and basic knowledge of polarization optics.

686-3 Standards for Optical Coherence Tomography
Jeeseong Hwang, 303-497-6588, jeeseong.hwang@nist.gov
Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a non-invasive imaging technique to obtain 3D structural information of a sample a few millimeters below the surface. NIST has been developing high resolution dynamic imaging OCT. A student will work in a wet chemistry laboratory to fabricate layered polymeric materials with micro-beads and characterize the fabricated simulation standards (phantoms) with high resolution OCT. A student is expected to have basic skills in LabView and MATLAB programming.


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Electromagnetics Division

687-1 Graphene Beyond the Microscale
Mark Keller, 303-497-5430, mark.keller [at] nist.gov
The excitement generated by graphene"s exceptional properties led to the 2010 Nobel Prize in physics. We are pursuing graphene synthesis over millimeter length scales with the performance and uniformity required for practical electronic, mechanical, and chemical devices. SURF participants will learn plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition, use various characterization tools (SEM, AFM, Raman), measure graphene transistors, and gain hands-on experience with the strongest known material.

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687-2 Microwave Near-Field Imaging of Low-Dimensional Nanoscale Electronics
Samuel Berweger and Pavel Kabos, 303-497-3950, samuel.berweger [at] nist.gov
New generations of nanoscale devices based on 1D and 2D materials require a detailed understanding of device performance as it relates to structure and associated electronic properties. We perform microwave near-field microscopy for electrical characterization of novel materials. The student will have an opportunity to learn atomic force microscopy, scanning tunneling microscopy, microwave techniques, and build familiarity with new classes of materials including transition metal dichalcogenides.

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687-3 Tissue Mimics to Validate MRI Biomarkers of Brain Disease/Trauma
Stephen Russek, 303-497-5097, stephen.russek [at] nist.gov
This research will involve developing polymer and gel composites to mimic brain tissue with realistic mechanical, electromagnetic, and water diffusion properties. The tissue mimics will be incorporated in MRI phantoms and imaged in the NIST and CU MRI scanners using protocols being developed for traumatic brain injury. Key elements include: fibers mimicking neural bundles, local iron deposits to model microbleeds, and local conductivity and dielectric variation mimicking brain tissue.

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687-4 Spintronics and Nanomagnetics
Tom Silva, 303-497-7826, thomas.silva [at] nist.gov
Spintronics is the next wave in microelectronics. It utilizes the inherent quantum mechanical spin of electrons as the basis for information storage/processing. We are developing measurement and analysis techniques to aid private industry in its efforts to incorporate spintronics technology in commercial products. Students will learn to prepare samples with state-of-the-art deposition tools and to measure their properties with precision magnetometers and ferromagnetic resonance spectrometers.

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687-5 Microsystems for Bio-Imaging and Metrology
John Moreland, 303-497-3641, john.moreland [at] nist.gov
This project uses micro- and nanosystems (MEMS and NEMS) for new instrumentation in biomedical research. We are interested in applications of nanometer-scale magnetic particles in microfluidics and in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Some examples include novel probe microscopes, ultra-sensitive magnetometers for bio-assays, high-resolution MR spectrometer probes, magnetic manipulation and measurement of molecules, and radio-frequency tags and contrast agents for MRI.

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687-6 Micro-Engineered MRI Contrast Agents
Gary Zabow, 303-497-4657, gary.zabow [at] nist.gov
Microfabricated magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agents are a new class of imaging agents based on magnetic micro- and nanostructures that add color to MRI. The student will experiment with new microfabrication techniques and materials aimed at adding functionality to such structures. Student will gain experience in microfabrication, MRI, and possibly magnetics simulation. This project would ideally suit a student with a background in both chemistry and physics.


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Time and Frequency Division

688-1 Optical Atomic Clocks
Chris Oates, 303-497-7654, chris.oates [at] nist.gov
The student will aid in the development of next-generation optical atomic clocks. Many techniques of atomic physics will be introduced, including laser cooling, magneto-optical trapping, optical lattices, laser stabilization, and ultra-high resolution spectroscopy. The student will gain experience with different laser systems, including diode lasers, green and yellow light sources based on nonlinear conversion of infrared fiber lasers, and red Ti:sapphire lasers.

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688-2 Quantum Information Processing with Ion Arrays in Penning Ion Traps
John Bollinger and Justin Bohnet, 303-497-5861, john.bollinger [at] nist.gov
The high level of control developed for atomic systems enables the implementation and study of otherwise unsolvable many-body interactions. In this project the student will assist with experimental efforts to engineer quantum magnetic interactions between a few hundred ions that form a crystal in a Penning trap. Depending on the project, the student will gain experience with lasers and optics, ultrahigh vacuum techniques, or general instrumentation and experimental control.

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688-3 Data Analysis for Time Transfer Using GPS Receivers
Bijunath Patla and Stefania Romisch, 303-497-4082, bijunath.patla [at] nist.gov
The student will write software for data analysis to aid GPS time transfer and validate models that include higher-order relativistic corrections for accurate time transfer. Atomic clocks are used in the context of NASA/ESA experiments on the space station to test general relativity and other core principles of physics. The student can expect to learn elements of time transfer, analyze experiments testing fundamental physics, and learn error estimation and uncertainty analysis.

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688-4 Exploring Opto-Mechanical Oscillators
Scott Papp, 303-497-3822, scott.papp [at] nist.gov
This opportunity would investigate the coupling of light and high-Q mechanical resonators toward the creation of a high spectral purity oscillator. Of particular interest is how the fundamental quantum limits of cavity optomechanical systems impact oscillator performance.

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688-5 Atomic Clock Technology
Lora Nugent-Glandorf, 303-497-4779, lora.nugent-glandorf [at] nist.gov
The Metrology Group is pursuing atomic clock technology with reduced sensitivities to vibration. Such technology has the potential for use in field applications such as precise timing, geopositioning, navigation, and privacy in shared-telecommunications networks. The student will set-up and test a cold atom clock (i.e., MOT with progression towards BEC). The student will learn about atomic physics, optics and laser cooling, rf electronics, and noise characterization.

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688-6 Optical Frequency Combs for Finding Exoplanets
Scott Diddams, 303-497-7459, scott.diddams [at] nist.gov
A powerful technique for finding exoplanets around distant stars is to measure periodic changes in the stellar spectrum due to an orbiting planet. A student working on this opportunity will develop a laser frequency comb for precision astronomical spectroscopy that will ultimately enable the measurement of wavelength shifts of only 0.0000005 nanometers. This topic involves experimental research in laser physics, nonlinear fiber optics, ultrafast optics, and astronomical instrumentation.

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688-7 Development of Compact Atomic Clocks Based on Laser-Cooled Atoms
Elizabeth Donley, 303-497-5173, elizabeth.donley [at] nist.gov
Portable, high-performance atomic clocks in battery-operable packages could bring about dramatic new timing applications in navigation and communications systems. Toward this goal, we are developing compact atomic clocks based on coherent population trapping. A student working on this project will practice a broad range of techniques needed for the long-term development of compact atomic clocks, including lasers and optics, measurement methods, electronics, atomic theory, and vacuum systems.

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688-8 Atomic Clock Characterization
Joshua Savory and Stefania Romisch, 303-497-6023, joshua.savory [at] nist.gov
This project will offer opportunities to develop sensors for characterization and monitoring of hydrogen maser environmental sensitivities. The student will integrate ambient magnetic field and power stability sensors into an existing environmental monitoring module. The student will gain experience with atomic standards, micro-controller technology, analog and digital electronics, and general scientific instrumentation.

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688-9 Microfabricated Atomic Magnetometers for Non-Invasive Brain Imaging
Svenja Knappe, 303-497-3334, svenja.knappe [at] nist.gov
This project develops magnetic field sensors based on laser spectroscopy of atoms in a microfabricated vapor cell. The high sensitivities of these sensors allow us to measure the tiny magnetic fields emitted by the human brain or heart. A student could have a background in mechanical or electrical engineering or physics and will gain experience in areas such as noise measurements, laser spectroscopy, electronics, magnetic fields, and micro-optics.

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SURF student in lab