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Research Opportunities

 The research opportunities for the 2022 SURF Program are listed below. All opportunities are designed to be completed in a virtual, telework environment. Thus, participants are not required to relocate to the Boulder area and will not receive assistance with relocation. Note: Prospective applicants are required to list their top six preferences in the online questionnaire via

Applied Chemicals and Materials Division

647-1 Molecular simulations of molten metals
Jeffrey Young and Allan Harvey, 303-497-7855, jeffrey.young[at]
Molten metals are important for many manufacturing and energy applications, but they are challenging to study experimentally due to their high melting points. The SURF student will calculate properties of molten metals using molecular dynamics simulations to supplement and extend the available experimental data. Students interested in thermodynamics and with some initial programming experience are encouraged to apply.

647-2 Use of SEM Techniques to Assess SFA in Charpy Specimens of Modern Steels
Enrico Lucon and May Martin, 303-497-4750, enrico.lucon[at]
Most ferritic steels undergo a ductile-to-brittle transition as the temperature is lowered.  In the past, the percentage of ductile fracture (SFA) was estimated by eye. Empirical correlations have been proposed to estimate SFA from instrumented Charpy forces. On newer steels, fracture features are too small to evaluate by eye. SEM techniques can be used to determine and correlate SFA to instrumented Charpy data.  It will then be possible to correlate fractography with instrumented Charpy data.

647-3 Development of the concept of integration of thermodynamic models with ThermoData Engine software
Vladimir Diky, 303-497-4124, vladimir.diky[at]
Thermodynamic properties of substances and materials are necessary for many engineering and scientific applications, including process design, safety, and understanding natural phenomena. They are measured, predicted, collected, and mathematically processed. NIST ThermoData Engine (TDE) software handles thermophysical property data and provides data processing methods and tools. In order to enhance its capabilities and provide better services to the community, it is necessary to develop the methods for its integration with other researchers' developments without modification of TDE, which will speed up implementation of new models, empower TDE users, and reduce redundant efforts. That requires development of unified TDE interfaces to external components based on common architecture of thermodynamic models. That activity needs programming experience (C++ and/or Fortran; Python may be useful) and understanding of basic thermodynamic principles. A successful candidate should be able to work independently, explore new concepts (such as equations of state or activity coefficients) on the basis of the existing core knowledge, and generate and implement innovative concepts and solutions.

647-4 Molecular dynamics simulations of condensed-phase biophysical/aqueous systems
Demian Riccardi, 303-497-4648, dmr3[at]
The Thermodynamics Research Center has several ongoing and exciting molecular modeling research projects. We use computational methods on multiple scales ranging from high-level quantum chemistry to blazing fast molecular dynamics simulations on GPUs. Depending on the interest of the candidate, we will use Python libraries to analyze allostery in a kinase or the solvation of ionizable molecules in water. The ideal candidate will have a strong interest in molecular dynamics simulations and some experience with Python in a Linux environment.

RF Technology Division

 672-1 Building the Quantum Internet with Microwave-Optical Quantum Transducers
Tasshi Dennis, 303-497-3507, tasshi.dennis[at]
Networking superconducting quantum computers will allow them to scale and reach unprecedented computational capacity far beyond classical computers. We are constructing a network with optically generated two-mode squeezed states and microwave-optical transducer devices to create remote microwave entanglement. This project involves the design and construction of a novel monolithic second harmonic generator for converting infrared light into green light which is then used to drive an optical parametric amplifier which produces the entangled states. Being offered is experience with nonlinear optics, high-speed electronics, phase-locked loops, optical alignment, and analytical device modeling.

672-2 Multi-path interferometry for DC to 1 THz waveform generation
Bryan Bosworth, 303-497-5403, bryan.bosworth[at]
Emerging mmWave technologies for 5G and beyond will require new mmWave sources with unprecedented bandwidth, precision, and programmability. NIST is currently integrating optical frequency combs, state-of-the-art THz photodiodes, THz amplifiers, and electronics to solve this challenge, but it will be impossible without a novel 10 path fiber laser interferometer and control system for coherent mmWave combination. This project will let the student solve problems in fiber interferometry, polarization diversity detection, signal processing, controls, and FPGA/microcontroller design to create a prototype instrument that will be in continuous use in exciting new research areas. Students with sufficient experience will have near complete freedom to design and manufacture the optics, electronics, and mechanics of their instrument.

Applied Physics Division

686-1 Remote LIDAR monitoring of greenhouse gases
David Plusquellic, 303-497-6089, dplus[at]
Work with NIST scientists to operate a differential absorption LIDAR system to acquire data and then process it with wind data to determine greenhouse gas emission fluxes. Familiarity with Matlab software is desirable.

686-2 Monte Carlo simulations of photon transport in biomedical applications
Jeeseong Hwang, 303-497-6588, jch[at]
The student will learn and perform Monte Carlo simulations of photon transport in optically turbid media mimicking biological tissues. A series of Monte Carlo simulations will be performed to mimic acquired experimental data from a dark-field microscope and/or an integrating sphere system. Key optical properties of the turbid media will be determined by comparing the simulated and experimental results.

686-3 Using quantum entanglement to generate randomness
Krister Shalm, 303-497-3094, lynden.shalm[at]
We are building the world's best random number generator using quantum entanglement. We require someone to help us improve the speed and characterization of our qubit measurement system to allow us to build a next-generation quantum network that can be used to generate randomness. If the program is online-only, then the successful candidate will help with implementing remote software control of our entangled setup.

686-4 Developing tools for better quantum networks
Krister Shalm, 303-497-3094, lynden.shalm[at]
We are developing a quantum network using high quality entanglement. The position requires someone who can help us further develop tools to model and control entangled photon sources and their measurements. The successful candidate will have a programming background and an interest in quantum technologies.

686-5 Model and measure water diffusion in brain tissue mimics by MRI and NMR
Stephen Russek, 303-497-5097, stephen.russek[at]
Brain tissue health and damage can be probed using MRI based water diffusion measurements.  Axonal anisotropy and disruption can be useful markers of traumatic brain injury.  This opportunity entails detailed modeling of the MRI signature of brain tissue using diffusion protocols at high gradient strengths and comparison with MRI and NMR measurements of different brain tissue mimics.  Modeling and operation of NIST MRI and NMR systems can be done remotely.

Time and Frequency Division

688-1 Measuring superconducting circuits with femtosecond optical pulses
Franklyn Quinlan, 303-497-4580, fquinlan[at]
This project combines state-of-the-art optical, electro-optical, and superconducting circuit technologies to enable new capabilities in cryogenic and quantum information systems. The student will work with a team of researchers to use femtosecond-duration optical pulses to sample and reconstruct microwave signals directly in a cryogenic environment. This project provides the student with the opportunity to learn about ultrashort pulsed laser sources, optical-to-electrical and electrical-to-optical conversion, cryogenic systems, and quantum information systems.


Created September 28, 2009, Updated February 3, 2022