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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 2018 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:  Actively cooled load for 21 cm radio telescopes
Disciplines:  Physics, Electrical Engineering
Mentor:  Josef Frisch, Senior Staff Scientist, (PMA),, Phone: 650-923-4005
Mentor URL:  (opens in new window)
Background:  NOTE:: This project is being offered by a Caltech alumnus and will be conducted at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, California.

There is a lot of recent interest in survey telescopes operating in the 21cm band with redshifts from 2-6. Examples are CHIME (operational) and HIRAX (under development). These telescopes consist of large arrays (~1000X) of low cost receivers. Cost concerns prohibit the use of cryogenic amplifiers, so low-noise room-temperature amplifiers are required with a goal of system temperatures <50K.

This project investigates the use of low noise amplifiers as cold loads, both for calibration and to terminate signals. Initial tests have demonstrated load noise temperatures below 30K. This project will evaluate the performance and develop a thermal calibration scheme for these loads.
Description:  The student will be doing a set of tests on room temperature and cryogenic amplifiers and loads. The baseline project goal is to characterize the performance of low noise amplifiers as cold loads. This will include tradeoffs between load noise temperature and stability against oscillation from mismatches.

The stretch goal is to find a method to calibrate the noise temperature of the loads, preferably without requiring cryogenic test loads.

Depending on the results, the project may also include optimization of the design of high stability low noise front end amplifiers.

In addition to the data analysis and general RF electronic engineering, the project will address the interesting physics of how feedback can effectively cool the amplifier input 10X below ambient temperature over a range of frequencies.

The project is appropriate for either electrical engineering or physics students.
References:  Project is brand new – will have references in a few months. Telescope information can be found at
Note that SLAC is not formally collaborating with either CHIME or HIRAX at this time but scientists from both have expressed interest in this work.
Student Requirements:  Physics including thermal physics
Electrical engineering
Programs:  This AO can be done under the following programs:

  Program    Available To
       SURF    Caltech students only 

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

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