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SURF: Announcements of Opportunity

Below are Announcements of Opportunity posted by Caltech faculty and JPL technical staff for the SURF program. Additional AOs for the Amgen Scholars program can be found here.

Specific GROWTH projects being offerred for summer 2019 can be found here.

Each AO indicates whether or not it is open to non-Caltech students. If an AO is NOT open to non-Caltech students, please DO NOT contact the mentor.

Announcements of Opportunity are posted as they are received. Please check back regularly for new AO submissions! Remember: This is just one way that you can go about identifying a suitable project and/or mentor.

Announcements for external summer programs are listed here.

Students pursuing opportunities at JPL must be
U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents.

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Project:  Developing an instrument for underwater methane analysis
Disciplines:  Chemistry/Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering
Mentor:  Max Coleman, (JPL),, Phone: (818) 393-6353
Mentor URL:  (opens in new window)
Background:  Stable isotopes of hydrogen and carbon characterize the mode of formation and source of methane. Methane is a very powerful greenhouse gas. There are both scientific and environmental reasons for needing to measure amounts and characterize sources of dissolved methane in ocean water. Subsurface analysis of dissolved methane has been hampered by the need to use large gas samples, delivered into the instrument from the external ocean via a membrane, which alters both the molecular and isotopic composition of the dissolved gases and takes a long time. A new sensitive analytical approach will allow us to take in whole, small water samples, from which an uncompromised gas sample can be extracted relatively rapidly.
Description:  An emerging new analytical technology, Capillary Absorption Technology (CAS), which we are developing into a low mass, low volume subsurface instrument, offers four order of magnitude more sensitivity than the state of the art it is tuneable laser spectrometry (TLS) on steroids. This super-sensitive sensor is coupled to a sampling module, where discrete small samples of water are introduced to the instrument and dissolved gases are extracted for analysis in the CAS. This project will be concerned with developing the second stage prototype sample inlet system and optimizing it.
References:  Methane isotopes: Whiticar MJ (1999). Carbon and hydrogen isotope systematics of bacterial formation and oxidation of methane. Chemical Geology 161 pp. 291-314.CAS:

Current method: Wankel SD et al. (2013) Characterizing the Distribution of Methane Sources and Cycling in the Deep Sea via in Situ Stable Isotope Analysis,, Environ. Sci. Technol. 47 (2013).

CAS: Kelly JF et al. (2013) Further developments of capillary absorption spectrometers using small hollow-waveguide fibers. Proc. SPIE 8993, Nanophotonic Devices XI, 89931O. DOI: 10.1117/12.2042734
Student Requirements:  Laboratory experimentation in chemical or mechanical engineering or physics / applied physics
Location / Safety:  Project building and/or room locations: . Student will need special safety training: Yes.
Programs:  This AO can be done under the following programs:

  Program    Available To
       SURF    both Caltech and non-Caltech students 

Click on a program name for program info and application requirements.

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