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Opportunity at Naval Research Laboratory (NRL)

Laser Induced Fluorescence and Thomson Scattering Plasma Diagnostics for Aerospace Applications


Naval Research Laboratory, DC, Spacecraft Engineering Department

RO# Location
64.15.86.C0649 Washington, DC 203755321


name email phone
Michael S McDonald 202.404.3680


The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) Spacecraft Propulsion Section, part of the Spacecraft Engineering Division, maintains active research in plasma source and diagnostic development in close cooperation with the NRL Plasma Physics Division.  Plasma expertise finds broad application in aerospace environments from spacecraft plasma propulsion to actuation of aerodynamic surfaces. Characterizing the plasma state in aerospace devices is a critical capability, as many of these systems lack self-consistent predictive models.  Further development of advanced plasma technologies requires advanced diagnostics to understand the physics driving performance, inform and improve model development and validation, and ultimately to field new capabilities.  Measuring key properties such as charged and neutral densities is critical to our physical understanding and the technology development process; however, standard in-situ techniques using physical probes often cannot be employed in these environments.

We seek excellent candidates to support development of nonintrusive laser diagnostics for characterization of flowing plasma, reactive species and/or high enthalpy partially ionized neutral flows.  This includes measurement of neutral and charged species densities, velocities, and temperatures.  Of particular interest are two-photon absorption laser induced fluorescence (TALIF) to measure ground-state densities of neutrals and ions in high-speed flow and reactive species environments, as well as Thomson scattering to measure electron properties in high-speed flows and plasma propulsion systems. Combined these two diagnostics can be used to understand the full plasma state.

A qualified candidate will have demonstrated laser diagnostics experience, and ideally exposure or hands-on development of TALIF or Thomson scattering diagnostics.  Additional areas of attractive expertise include fluid dynamics, computational or analytical modeling, combustion, and plasma physics. 

Candidates will interface with personnel in both the Spacecraft Engineering and Plasma Physics Divisions. Facilities available include high-vacuum test chambers and supporting equipment for plasma operation and plasma diagnostic evaluation in representative aerospace environments, dedicated ultra-high vacuum material characterization facilities, a wide variety of plasma diagnostic tools, high-power laser equipment, and access to DoD HPC simulation resources.

Plasma; Laser; Diagnostic; Space; Spacecraft; Hypersonic; Thomson; LIF; TALIF; Experimental; Design; Test; Vacuum; Chemistry; Electron; Fluid dynamics; Optical;


Citizenship:  Open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents
Level:  Open to Postdoctoral applicants


Base Stipend Travel Allotment Supplementation
$87,198.00 $3,000.00
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