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Job Details

Post-Doctoral Optical Materials Research Scientist ( R-00069874 )

Science and Research

Materials Research



Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States


Job Description:

Looking for an opportunity to make an impact?

At Leidos, we deliver innovative solutions through the efforts of our diverse and talented people who are dedicated to our customers’ success. We empower our teams, contribute to our communities, and operate sustainable. Everything we do is built on a commitment to do the right thing for our customers, our people, and our community. Our Mission, Vision, and Values guide the way we do business. Your greatest work is ahead!

The Leidos Civil Group is seeking a Post-Doctoral Research Scientist / Engineer for our Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) Pittsburgh, PA or Morgantown, WV Site. NETL is a DOE national laboratory that produces technological solutions for America's energy challenges. The candidate will focus on developing sensing materials and interrogator development. The candidate will conduct research and development of cladding materials for sapphire optical fibers. These claddings are to be used in distributed temperature sensing in energy-related applications such as boiler exhaust, heat recovery steam generators, gas turbines, and solid oxide fuel cells. The candidate will support sensing material development for high temperature application and fiber optic sensor and interrogator development for acetylene sensing. The objectives of the task are to develop advanced functional materials which allow for an improved high-temperature stability, better measurement repeatability, and no cross-interference between different gases.

Location: Pittsburgh, PA OR Morgantown, WV

Travel: 30-50% travel from site to site (Pittsburgh - Morgantown) regularly is required

TERM OF COMMITMENT: This research position is intended to be a term position, with varying levels of commitment that are not expected to last longer than 2 years. You will be informed prior to applying what length of commitment is anticipated. Also, those who successfully fill a term position, may be invited to apply for an additional term. Nothing in this paragraph is intended to create an employment contract. Employment will remain at will.

If this sounds like the kind of environment where you can thrive, keep reading!

Specific tasks include, but are not limited to:

  • Operate a laser-heated pedestal growth system to grow single-crystal optical fibers in sapphire, YAG, and other novel compositions.
  • Apply MgAl2O4 and other potential single-crystal fiber claddings or dopants using a sol-gel synthesis and annealing process.
  • Perform as-needed modifications to high-level LabVIEW programs and develop new LabVIEW code for real-time operations.
  • Test the mechanical durability of claddings, including resistance to abrasion and spalling when flexed. Mechanical testing initially will include bending the fiber and observing delamination or cracking.
  • Test the resistance to chemical damage and contamination in various gas atmospheres.
  • Measure the optical performance of the cladding before and after exposures and mechanical testing.
  • Investigate the performance of other materials identified through the literature reviews.
  • Operate the reel-to-reel fiber coating and manufacturing facilities for the most promising cladding candidates.
  • Demonstrate cladding stability under application relevant conditions.
  • Scale up the coating process for MgAl2O4 while further exploring alternative processes for higher temperature operation including, but not limited to, porous Al2O3.
  • Upon successful test of MgAl2O4 coated sapphire fiber, further optimize coating process and benchmark temperature limitations for various process gas environments.
  • Demonstrate alternative cladding recipes for higher temperature operational ranges (greater than 1000°C).
  • Scale up the coating process for porous Al2O3 or an alternative cladding material for higher temperatures greater than 1000°C.
  • Develop fiber-optic devices and sensing platforms to monitor the structural health of energy infrastructure with an emphasis on natural gas pipelines.
  • Develop and prototype distributed optical fiber interrogators for long-distance and distributed sensing in both lab testing and field demonstration.
  • Model the physics of light propagation in unaltered and functionalized optical fibers and interaction with surrounding media and external stimuli.
  • Prototype, develop and deploy novel fiber-optics sensors for environmental conditions monitoring.
  • Strong collaborative interactions are expected with material scientists as well as other device level scientists focused on the distributed gas and chemical sensing for natural gas pipelines.
  • Publications in high quality scientific peer-reviewed journals, presentations at national and international technical meetings
  • Development of new intellectual property based on the innovative research
  • Period status reporting and project reports (weekly/monthly/quarterly/annually) is required to update project managers and clients
  • This position will require extensive interface with clients and potential collaborative partners, so excellent verbal and written communication skills are required.

Required Qualifications:

  • A Ph.D. degree from an accredited university in Engineering, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) with less than 1 year of experience.
  • Due to contract requirements US Citizenship or Green Card Holder status is required.
  • Experience in crystal growth, laser systems, fiber optics, thin films, and materials processing and characterization.
  • LabVIEW programming and development skills
  • Comprehensive hands-on laboratory experience and a strong theoretical background in general physics, optics, and materials technology.
  • Experience in evaluation of high temperature ceramic coatings using materials science microanalysis instruments (SEM, XPS, XRD, TEM)
  • Experience in performance testing of coatings using the various techniques in conjunction with UV, visible and near-infrared spectroscopy measurements.
  • Knowledge of optical spectroscopy techniques including UV/Vis/Near-IR, ellipsometry, fluorescence, fiber coating, fiber Bragg gratings, interferometric sensing, optical time-domain reflectometry (OTDR), optical frequency-domain reflectometry (OFDR), Rayleigh and other backscatter phenomena.
  • Hands-on familiarity with laboratory equipment such as lasers, photodiode detectors, fusion splicers, electro-optic modulators, spectrophotometer, oscilloscopes, optical spectrum analyzers, network analyzers, and data acquisition and processing systems.
  • This position requires extensive interface with customers and potential collaborative partners, so excellent verbal and written communication skills are a necessity.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Familiarity with crystal fiber growth techniques like Laser Heated Pedestal Growth and/or Micro-Pulling Down is especially desirable.
  • Preference for experience in a national laboratory environment or R&D industrial lab where safe working practices are paramount.
  • Familiarity with vacuum compliant systems is a plus.

Pay Range: