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Friday, July 13, 2018


Daniel A Morales

This week has had its ups and downs, and when I say "downs" I really mean just a minor inconvenience with my project at NASA. After trying to model niobium-coated microstrips on a silicon substrate, we were consistently finding that COMSOL was not producing the expected results time after time. I was beginning to believe I was just a complete failure at COMSOL applications, but after contacting the COMSOL support, we were informed that the software is not capable of modeling these microstrips until the next Radio Frequency module version in September. I was a bit deflated considering I found this out on Monday afternoon, 20 minutes before I was to catch my bus home. However, I was tasked with designing coplanar waveguides that included interdigitated capacitors and an inductor attached together near the center. This will further my project by still being able to model a kinetic inductance detector, rather just focusing more on resonant circuits than superconductors. Maybe this newer version of COMSOL releasing in September will allow me to continue research for NASA this year? Fingers are crossed!

On Tuesday, we took a tour of the Optical Society of America where another fellow intern is placed at. We were lead through a workshop for building the proper resume/CV for applying to jobs and graduate schools after college. Danielle, one of our program coordinators, was extremely helpful for distinguishing the difference between a resume and a CV. We met with the CEO of OSA and a few associates who work in the building as well. The other interns and I enjoyed lunch on their behalf while enjoying the view from their balcony. 

Wednesday I went back to work to begin the new phase of my project and begin designing the LC circuit necessary for the kinetic inductance detector. I began my research on interdigitated capacitors, which is essential a parallel plate capacitor with a bunch of "teeth" lining up between each other. Calculating the proper capacitance is a tricky feat when dealing with 'zero' thickness simulations due to real world limitations of what a 'zero' thickness film actually is. I have been explorinng different papers and formulas for these types of capacitors and it looks like I will be able to calculate the proper values by Monday and finish the design of the circuit by early next week as well. Thursday was an absolute unit of a day. We toured the House and the Senate on Capitol Hill where we sat in for a science and technollgy hearing which was really thought-provoking! I was able to see expert witnesses from across the country and national labs defend their ideas on digital twins, artificial intelligence, and even quantum computing. The witnesses were well-versed in their areas of expertise and inspired me to stay up to date (even more so than I am already) with technology and its implications on society. Some people have wild fantasies about robots taking everyone's jobs and eventually replacing the human race, while other realize it is more of an opportunity to explore the world around us and being able to control this new type of technology will enable us to create more efficient technology in the energy sector. 

After the hearing, we toured the Senate and explored the building for hours. I was in awe of the amount of art inside of the building and I look forward to visiting again before I leave. Towards the end of the week, I was able to get my feet on the ground and begin designing the LC circuit. Although the week was not a strong start for me, I look forward to finishing with different results than expected before. 

Daniel Morales