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LIGO Optics Physicist/Engineer

California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, United States
Employer Description

Caltech is a world-renowned science and engineering institute that marshals some of the world's brightest minds and most innovative tools to address fundamental scientific questions. We thrive on finding and cultivating talented people who are passionate about what they do. Join us and be a part of the diverse Caltech community.

Job Description

LIGO Optics Physicist/Engineer




Job Category: Fulltime Term


Exempt Overtime Eligible: Exempt


Benefits Eligible: Benefit Based


Job Summary

LIGO Laboratory (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) seeks a highly motivated and skilled engineer or physicist, experienced in optics or electro-optics engineering, to join its team. LIGO Laboratory is a National Science Foundation major facility dedicated to gravitational wave astronomy and astrophysics, jointly operated by the California Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2015 LIGO launched the field of gravitational wave astronomy with the first ever successful observation of the birth of a black hole, for which the 2017 Nobel Prize was awarded. In addition to research and development (R&D) sites on the Caltech and MIT campuses, LIGO consists of two widely separated (3,002 km), 4 kilometer-long interferometers operated as a phased detector. One (LIGO Hanford Observatory) is located north of Richland, Washington and the other (LIGO Livingston Observatory) is in Livingston, Louisiana. The Laboratory maintains a vigorous R&D program, in parallel to running the observatories, to further enhance the capabilities of the LIGO detectors. For more information, visit the Laboratory website at https://www.ligo.caltech.edu/.


As a key technical contributor to the LIGO project, this individual has responsibility for working with a team of engineers and scientists to continue improving the interferometer performance especially with regard to improved stray light control, and in particular assist with the design of stray light control for upgrades to the LIGO instruments. Stray light control work will involve in situ testing of the interferometer's sensitivity, analysis and design of baffles and beam dumps to mitigate stray light noise, installation and commissioning of the improved stray light control measures. In addition this individual will support other activities related to improved optical performance of the LIGO system, such as wavefront sensing and control, and mitigation of optical point absorbers.


This position is located at Caltech in Pasadena, CA.


Job Duties

- Use optical analysis tools to understand the interferometer stray light paths and to evaluate proposed stray light control measures

- Design stray light control baffles and beam dumps

- Make measurements of the optical performance of proposed coatings and surfaces for stray light control, as required

- Assist in oversight of the fabrication, assembly and implementation of the stray light control assemblies

- Perform commissioning and characterization of stray light control measures and wavefront sensing and control systems

- Conduct performance analysis of wavefront sensing and control systems

- Participate in the R&D for improvements in the adaptive optics systems as well as the mitigation of optical point absorbers

- Travel to LIGO Observatories (and occasionally contractor facilities); travel up to 25% time may be required with durations of trips being generally one work week

- Perform other related duties as assigned


Basic Qualifications

- MS degree in Optical Engineering or Physics

- 3 or more years of related work experience or the equivalent education of a PhD

- Experience with stray light optical analysis using the Zemax software

- Strong skills in thermo-physical modeling/analysis

- Excellent skills and experience in experimental optics

- Experience with high power laser systems and associated safety considerations

- Ability to correlate measurements to analytical predictions

- Good spoken and written English language skills

- Experienced with Microsoft office tools (Word, Excel)

- Ability to read and interpret mechanical drawings and specifications

- Highly professional, collaborative and an effective communicator

- Willing and able to document work collaboratively with the team, and individually, with memos, internal wiki pages, electronics logs, etc.

- Experienced and effective in working collaboratively in a large, complex research project

- The ability to work seamlessly in a team which has installations in Washington and Louisiana, and key members in California and Massachusetts


Preferred Qualifications

- PhD degree in optical, or electro-optical, engineering or physics

- Experience with clean room and vacuum environments and protocols


Required Documents

- Resume

- Cover Letter


To be considered for this position please visit our web site and apply on line at the following link: https://apptrkr.com/1713901


We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.


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18 November 2019
18 December 2019
Masters Degree
Optical Components, Lasers, Sensors