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Washington & Lee University
NIST Research Intern
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Scientists often wish to study complicated signals affected by extreme noise. Lock-in detection is one method used to isolate these desired signals. By amplitude modulating a carrier wave with the desired signal, a lock-in amplifier synchronizes to the reference wave and extracts the phase and amplitude of the signal while rejecting the noise and other waves present. Unfortunately, lock-in amplifiers tend to be large, expensive, high power machines that are difficult to incorporate into small form designs. To address these problems, the commercial software-defined radio seems like an excellent candidate because it isolates signals and rejects noise while also having a small size, low cost, and low power consumption. Furthermore, software-defined radios present additional benefits by being able to synchronize to frequencies higher than most lock-in amplifiers, read signals from various types of modulation, and interface directly with computers via the aid of open-source software. In our research, we demonstrate how a commercial software-defined radio can be used in conjunction with open-source software to analyze problematic signals in physical experiments.
Taylor Colaizzi, a rising senior double majoring in physics and music at Washington and Lee University, is excited to join the SPS team as an intern at NIST this summer. A Johnson Scholar and Questbridge Scholar, Taylor is president of the Questbridge Chapter on campus and enjoys volunteering at the local Habitat for Humanity in his free time. A member of the Instrumental Conducting Mentorship Program, Taylor leads the upper woodwinds in the University Wind Ensemble as well as the bass section for the internationally-touring University Singers. Taylor's campus employment includes working at the ITS HelpDesk and serving as a Teaching Assistant for the Electrical Circuits course. Outside of academics, Taylor loves spending time with his family and dog Shaggy, and he enjoys riding roller coasters at his hometown's amusement park, Cedar Point. After graduation, Taylor plans to pursue a Ph.D. and teach future students at the post-secondary level.