Application deadline is February 15, 2017.
**Note: All research opportunities for 2017 are listed below.
Applied Chemicals and Materials Division
647-1 Development of Novel Alternative Fuels
Thomas J. Bruno, 303-497-5158, bruno[at]boulder.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 many fuels, and this summer we will extend this to include pyrolysis-based renewables. A SURF student working on this will become expert at gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, and many other analytical techniques. Contact adviser for more details.
647-2 Vapor Characterization and Analysis in Forensic Sciences
Thomas J. Bruno, 303-497-5158, bruno[at]boulder.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.
647-3 Phase Envelope Visualization in the Browser
Ian H. Bell, 303-497-6970, ian.bell[at]boulder.nist.gov
Visualization of the three-dimensional (pressure, temperature, composition) phase envelopes of mixtures is a useful tool for understanding their vapor-liquid phase equilibrium behavior. For simple mixtures, the phase envelopes are relatively easy to understand, and can be sketched by hand. Users of mixture thermodynamics are used to thinking about cross sections of the phase envelope, which represent pressure-composition and temperature-composition plots. But these cross-sections ignore some of the interplay between all three variables. As the mixtures demonstrate more and more complicated phase equilibria, for instance mixtures like carbon dioxide and water, their phase envelopes become more and more difficult understand intuitively. It is at this point that visualization of the phase envelope serves as a very useful pedagogical tool.
This project entails developing a user-friendly web interface for pre-existing open-source visualization tools that will allow for these phase envelopes to be viewed on any web-enabled device. This project would be especially well suited to a student with a robust programming background, and students of chemical engineering are especially invited to apply. This project uses full-stack open-source technologies. Ultimately the goal is that this tool will serve as a useful pedagogical tool to teach mixture thermodynamics to the next generation of chemical and mechanical engineers.
647-4 Development of Multi-dimensional Rootfinding Algorithms
Ian H. Bell, 303-497-6970, ian.bell[at]boulder.nist.gov
It is a ubiquitous challenge throughout engineering and mathematics to find all the solutions to systems of nonlinear equations. For a nonlinear function of one variable, methods are available to determine all the roots of the function over a bounded interval through the use of Chebyshev expansion approximants. As the dimensionality of the system of equations to be solved increases, so do the challenges in finding all the roots. Efforts have been undertaken to expand the tools developed for the one-dimensional case to two-dimensional problem by other researchers. This project seeks to develop higher-order analogs to the two-dimensional problem in order to extend the guarantees of being able to find a solution to the general N-dimensional case.
This project delves quite deeply into numerical analysis and algorithm development. Students are invited to apply that are experienced with, or have an interest in, numerical analysis applied to practical problems. Experience with modern C++ is beneficial, but not required.
647-5 Characterization of biomolecular interfaces using structural informatics
Demian Riccardi, 303-497-4648, dmr3[at]boulder.nist.gov
The thermodynamics of forming condensed-phase biomolecular interfaces is fundamental to living systems. Micelle formation, DNA annealing, sidechain packing, protein folding, and protein-protein complexation are all driven by the burial of surface and the associated release of restrained water molecules. In fact, the solution conditions can be adjusted to favor either side of the process (e.g. folded or unfolded). This project will use modern computational tools paired with established molecular thermodynamic models to interrogate biomolecular interfaces contained in the Protein Databank. We aim to reveal detail molecular descriptions of how biomolecular interfaces are formed and make predictions that may be tested with simulations or experiments. The student will work extensively with Perl/Python scripting in Jupyter Notebooks and molecular visualization tools, such as PyMol or VMD. The ideal candidate will have completed basic coursework in chemistry, computer science, and physics.
Public Safety Communications Research Division
671-1 Securing World Class Public Safety Communications Research Lab
Scott Ledgerwood, 303-497-5354, sal1[at]boulder.nist.gov
Public Safety Communications uses highly specialized systems to achieve their mission. The PSCR DemoNet Lab hosts some of the latest technology for advanced research on 4G. A student will have the opportunity to work with the PSCR Security and Network Operations Team to improve the centralized management of the PSCR systems, with a specific focus on the Linux environments. The student will develop a proposed solution which will be evaluated for adoption on the PSCR DemoNet Lab.
671-2 Conditional Analysis of LTE Radio Capacity
Don Bradshaw, 303-497-4655, dab6[at]boulder.nist.gov
LTE networks implement variable modulation and coding schemes in the radio layer to adapt to the radio conditions of individual user devices. The student will learn about the LTE radio layer and mathematically analyze the capacity of the LTE downlink and present this analysis in a paper that can be understood by the public safety technical community.
671-3 Next Generation Location-Based Services
Vihang Jani, 303-497-5910, vihang.jani[at]boulder.nist.gov
Situational awareness during an incident is a crucial capability for first-responders and requires accurate and timely location information. A student on this project will work with NIST engineers and become an expert on state-of-the-art indoor position and location technology. He or she will identify technology solutions necessary to accelerate the use of broadband networks to enhance situational awareness capabilities for first-responder’s location accuracy and visualization for GPS challenged indoor environment.
671-4 Open Innovation to Accelerate Technology for VR/Immersive, Location Based Services, Data Analytics
Tammi Marcoullier, 303-497-3294, tammi.marcoullier[at]boulder.nist.gov
Open Innovation practices such as crowd sourcing and prize competitions are used to work with a diverse and large community to solve critical technology problems to advance research, development, and product development. A student on this project will work with NIST engineers and the open innovation team to identify and develop technical projects that focus on public safety communications research areas such as location based services, LMR-LTE, VR/AR and immersive environments, and data analytics.
RF Technology Division
672-1 Wireless Channel Measurements
Jeanne Quimby, 303-497-4217, jeanne.quimby [at]boulder.nist.gov
Future wireless systems will require new hardware, and the signals they transmit will be subject to interesting propagation-channel effects. This project will assist NIST researchers in field tests and analyzing data from channel measurements for next-generation wireless technology. The project will cover the basics of channel sounding, including equipment set-up, measurement procedures, and simple data analysis (with measurement uncertainties). The data from these experiments will be used to develop standards for the next generation of wireless cellular communication systems.
672-2 Simulation and modeling of cryogenic circuits for waveform generation and high performance computing
Dylan Williams, 303-497-3138, dylan.williams [at]boulder.nist.gov
The recent progress in superconductivity technology allows the development of innovative applications, such as quantum and supercomputing systems, and of high precision standards for high frequency metrology. The student will assist NIST researchers in the simulation and modeling of cryogenic test structures and devices (e.g., Josephson Junctions) to be applied in NIST high precision waveform generator standards. The student will perform electrical and electromagnetic simulations using Matlab and the Keysight Advanced Design System (ADS) software package, a state-of-the-art electrical design tool.
672-3 Software for testing ultra-high frequency transistors and cryogenic Josephson junctions
Richard Chamberlin, 303-497-6060, richc [at]boulder.nist.gov
The high speed measurement group seeks a SURF student to develop advanced instrument acquisition and control software for automatically performing measurements of extremely fast integrated circuits and analog devices, including transmission lines, high frequency transistors, and Josephson junctions, to frequencies as high as 1 THz. Knowledge of Visual Studio, Visual Basic, and LabView are helpful. For an advanced student there may be opportunities for device modeling using Matab and/or the Keysight Advanced Design System (ADS) software package, a state-of-the-art electrical design tool.
672-4 Electromagnetic Characterization of Nanoparticles Using Microfluidics
Nate Orloff, 303-497-4938, orloff [at]boulder.nist.gov
The continued development of personalized medicine and point-of-care diagnostics depends on rapid, accurate, high-throughput measurements tailored for specific applications. We have developed chip-based electromagnetic techniques incorporating microfluidics to characterize the response of different types of nanoparticles in solution. Student activities include microwave measurements, microfluidic fabrication, measurements of novel materials (biomolecules, nanoparticles), and programming.
672-5 Spatial Metrology Measurements For Antenna Characterization
Joshua A. Gordon, 303-497-4312, josh.gordon [at]boulder.nist.gov
NIST has been involved in the science of antenna measurements for several decades. Antennas are showing up around us more and more, such as in mobile devices, which is driving new types of antenna research. Performance characteristics are fundamentally tied to the shape, and dimension of an antenna. At NIST, new laser and optical based measurement devices are being used to better characterize the shape and size of antennas to determine antenna performance. Students are being sought to perform data acquisition for measuring antenna dimensions as well as perform experiments to test the performance of the laser and optical based measurement systems. These experiments will involve operating a laser tracking system and pixel probe camera system. Data will be organized and analyzed using Microsoft Excel. These data will help improved the ability to characterize high performance antennas such as those used in communications, satellites, and radar.
Applied Physics Division
686-1 Open air atmospheric gas detection with frequency combs
Nathan Newbury, Eleanor Waxman, Kevin Cossel, 303-497-4227, nathan.newbury [at]boulder.nist.gov
An open-path broadband spectrometer based on frequency combs has been developed to measure multiple atmospheric gases across kilometer-scale air paths. The researcher will work with NIST scientists to operate this open-path spectrometer in different locations nearby Boulder CO in order to evaluate its sensitivity and accuracy. The goal will be to determine this system’s potential as a long-term monitoring tool for greenhouse gases and for the detection of potentially hazardous gas releases.
686-2 Laser detection and ranging through flames
Nathan Newbury, Matthew Hoehler, Esther Baumann, 303-497-4227, nathan.newbury [at]boulder.nist.gov
Technology to experimentally validate the deformation of the heated object (e.g. steel beams) fully engulfed in flames with sufficient precision and quantified uncertainty does not exist at present. Coherent multi-wavelength Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) can potentially provide accurate, sensitive measurements of the position and movement of objects engulfed in fire. The researcher will work with NIST scientists and collaborators to: 1) Setup and operate a precision LIDAR for imaging through an open flame and 2) identify and analyze the results to understand the performance limitations imposed by fire, and, possibly, 3) conduct additional imaging experiments at the NIST Gaithersburg fire laboratory.
686-3 Instrumentation for Bio-Imaging and Metrology
John Moreland, 303-497-3641, john.moreland [at]boulder.nist.gov
This project develops new instrumentation for medical imaging and biomedical research. Some examples include ultra-sensitive magnetometers for bio-assays, high-resolution MR spectrometer probes for developing new kinds of contrast agents, new technology for MRI, and bio applications of magnetic particles in microfluidics and imaging.
686-4 Quantum Circuits and Amplifiers
José Aumentado, 303-497-4137,jose.aumentado [at]boulder.nist.gov
Opportunity to work with NIST researchers studying quantum mechanics in microwave circuits. You'll get a chance to learn something about cryogenics and instrumentation as well as circuit theory and numerical simulation.
686-5 3D Printing of Biomaterials for Head/Brain MRI Phantoms
Stephen Russek, 303-497-5097,russek [at]boulder.nist.gov
This research involves 3D printing of biomimetic head/brain phantoms with embedded sensors. The phantoms will be imaged in both NIST and clinical MRI scanners. Novel MRI interrogable sensors will be used to measure strain and changes in tissue mimics in response to simulated trauma. The fabrication of tissue mimics may involve the use of existing 3d printers or the construction of a multicomponent vector/raster bioprinter (think Westworld). Will gain experience in medical imaging, 3D printing, and bioengineering.
Quantum Electromagnetics Division
687-1 Biophotonics and Optical Medical Imaging
Kimberly Briggman, 303-497-7287, kbriggma[at]boulder.nist.gov
This research lies at the intersection of physics, chemistry, engineering, and life sciences. Photonic techniques, where light is used to image, detect, and manipulate molecules and biomolecules, are used to establish the optical measurement science to enable the characterization and control of molecular systems. The ability to measure and quantify molecular systems is critical to realizing many applications in medicine, energy, and the environment. In this project, a student will work to develop standards and technologies for validating optical-based medical techniques.
687-2 THz and Near-Infrared Techniques based on Multi-Frequency Combs
David F. Plusquellic, 303-497-6089, dplus[at]boulder.nist.gov
The terahertz (THz) spectral region provides access to the lowest frequency collective motions of biomolecules in condensed and gas phases. New efforts are underway to improve the sensitivity and precision of THz systems including: i) the generation and detection of THz radiation using multi-frequency combs, and ii) the phase coherent detection of gas phase molecules following laser ablation. A third program relies on comb technology is the measurement of greenhouse gas concentrations from the faint but coherent scattering of near-infrared laser light from the Boulder Flatirons.
Time and Frequency Division
688-1 Optical Atomic Clocks
Andrew Ludlow, 303-497-4972, andrew.ludlow [at]boulder.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.
688-2 Ion Optical Clocks
David Hume, 303-497-4364, david.hume[at]boulder.nist.gov
The optical atomic clocks currently under development at NIST are poised to revolutionize timekeeping and put our best theories of physics, from general relativity to the standard model of particle physics, to ever more stringent tests. These experiments will require, among other advancements, more stable laser systems. In the Ion Storage group we are developing such laser systems for our optical clocks based on trapped, laser-cooled ions. A student in our group will work on the design, construction and operation of these systems.
688-3 Exploring how nonlinear photonics makes a frequency comb
Scott Papp, 303-497-3822, scott.papp[at]boulder.nist.gov
A student involved in this project will carry out experimental research on optical frequency combs – ultraprecise rulers for light waves – that are built with photonic-chip technology. These new, ultraportable chip devices leverage fundamental coupling of light and nonlinear optical materials to directly generate frequency comb teeth. This student would be exposed to and learn about photonic-chip devices and their free-space and fiber coupling optics, experimental measurements on ultrafast pulses and visible to infrared spectra, numerical methods for nonlinear optical processes photonic integrated circuit design, and other experimental skills.
688-4 Miniature Optical Wavelength References
Matthew Hummon, 303-497-4780, matthew.hummon[at]boulder.nist.gov
Extending compact optical wavelength references to shorter wavelengths and narrower lines will enhance the precision of length measurement systems. The student will aid in the development of compact optical references based on blue transitions in alkali metal vapors. The student will acquire expertise in areas such as external cavity diode lasers, laser stabilization electronics, and fabrication of MEMS based alkali vapor cells.