Published: Sept. 7, 2023


The Professional Research Experience Program (PREP) is a special partnership between the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado Boulder. PREP provides research opportunities to CU undergraduate and graduate students, as well as researchers with a Bachelor's, Master's, or PhD in NIST labs to gain research experience alongside NIST scientists.

Research Location 

At NIST in the High-Speed Waveform Metrology Group under the RF Technology Division.

Opportunity Description

This position is part of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Professional Research Experience Program (PREP).  NIST recognizes that its research staff may wish to collaborate with researchers at academic institutions on specific projects of mutual interest, thus requiring that such institutions must be the recipient of a PREP award.  The PREP program requires staff from a wide range of backgrounds to work on scientific research in many areas. Employees in this position will perform technical work that underpins the scientific research of the collaboration.  

The associate will contribute to designing, building, and operating the world’s first optical network of superconducting quantum computers.  Specifically, this interdisciplinary project entails the design and construction of nonlinear optical systems capable of generating quantum states of light, precision measurements of those states, and network distribution as an entanglement resource.  At the nodes of the network, novel microwave-optical transduction devices are operated in a cryogenic environment to establish the vital interconnect to qubits within superconducting quantum processors.  Through a cleanroom fabrication effort, the transducers are being engineered into reliable, modular, telecom-ready devices.  The associate has the opportunity to become involved with multiple aspects of this project which match their research interests while strengthen an array of skills through hands-on laboratory tasks, design challenges, data analysis, and theoretical considerations. 

Key Responsibilities

  • Design and construct resonant nonlinear systems such as optical parametric amplifiers to generate non-classical, squeezed states of light.
  • Design and construct stable opto-mechanic launch systems to efficiently couple non-classic light into and out of resonant optical cavities.
  • Implement feed-back control systems to stabilize optical frequency, phase, polarization, and mechanical motion to enable coherent optical interactions and measurements.
  • Perform precision homodyne tomography of squeezed optical and electrical states to quantify their suitability for network operation.
  • Perform precision optical and electrical measurements of novel transducer devices in various operating modes and interpret results.
  • Learn to design and fabricate telecom-ready, opto-mechanical-electrical transducer devices in a semiconductor cleanroom facility.
  • Operate and maintain a cryogenic dilution refrigerator capable of millikelvin temperatures.
  • Provide technical input to research problems which have been recognized as critical obstacles to progress in quantum networking.
  • Prepare journal manuscripts, attend research conferences, and present technical results.
  • Work as a member of a collaborative, interdisciplinary team.


  • Bachelor’s degree in a field of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics.
  • Background knowledge of quantum physics and quantum information theory.
  • Experience with optics such as ultra-stable lasers, entangled light sources, filter cavities, phase-locked loops, balanced detection, low-noise photoreceiver design, polarization optics, and optical modulators.
  • Experience with measurement techniques such as coherent detection, quantum tomography, beam diagnostics, laser diagnostics, noise characterization, and microwave scattering parameter measurements.
  • Experience with semiconductor clean room fabrication methods such as photolithography, electron beam lithography, plasma etching, molecular beam epitaxy, and chemical vapor deposition.
  • Knowledge of cryogenics and dilution refrigerator operating principles is advantageous.
  • Experience with classical optical communications, fiber optics, and timing synchronization is desirable.
  • Ability to code with, or learn to code with MATLAB, LabView, and Python is required.
  • Familiarity with optical system design software (e.g. Zemax, Code V, OSLO) is advantageous.
  • Experience with electrical circuit design, soldering, and debugging is required.
  • Familiarity with opto-mechanic design, computer-aided design, and machine shop skills is desirable.
  • Familiarity with building materials, hardware, and basic construction and assembly methods. 
  • Comfortable working with hands doing manual tasks.
  • Strong oral and written communication skills.

Length of Term

START DATE:  As soon as possible
END DATE: 3/31/24

Eligibility to be in PREP

  • Applicants must be enrolled full-time at the University of Colorado Boulder master’s degree or doctoral degree program in physics, mathematics, applied mathematics, engineering, or closely related program.
  • Must currently possess a 3.0 GPA or higher.
  • Must be a degree seeking student through CU Boulder.


  • Pre-comps rate $2,924.00 per month
  • Post-comps rate $3,079.00 per month


  • Graduate Research Assistant Contract Pay based on pre-comps/post-comps rate.
  • Tuition, fees, and insurance paid for by PREP during the academic year while in PREP.

Interested in Applying?

If interested, please send your resume/CV to Lisa Valencia at The finalist will be required to submit their resume/CV, transcript, and one letter of recommendation.