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Photonics R&D Scientist

Thorlabs, Inc., Jessup, MD, United States
Employer Description

Founded in 1989, Thorlabs seeks to accelerate the forward movement of scientific discovery and advancement! As a vertically integrated manufacturer of photonics components, instruments, and systems, our vast product portfolio includes over 20,000 items, ranging from optics and optomechanical positioning components to imaging systems, many of which are customer inspired.

Photonics is the foremost technology driving innovation in science and engineering. As the number of technological innovations has grown, Thorlabs has extended its core competencies in an effort to play an ever increasing role serving the Photonics Industry at the research end, as well as the industrial, life science, medical, and defense segments.

Headquartered in Newton, NJ, Thorlabs has grown to over 1800 employees with manufacturing and sales offices in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Sweden, Japan, China, and Brazil. As light-based technologies push into new markets, Thorlabs plans to enter early with the products and services required to ensure the ultimate success of our customers.

Job Description

This position supports the development and manufacturing of next-generation semiconductor lasers, namely, state-of-the-art MEMS-VCSEL swept-source tunable lasers for use in optical coherence tomography (OCT) applications. Responsibilities include contributing to the R&D process to develop initial prototypes and taking a laser product from prototype into manufacturing thru the development of test equipment in support of assembly line packaging and test. This position will require design, assembly, and testing of R&D prototypes, as well as support of both hardware and software for manufacturing assembly and test. This position involves working with a multi-disciplinary team of engineers including mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, software/database engineers, manufacturing personnel, and other electro-optic engineers to ensure that designs and manufacturing techniques will yield products that meet the customer’s specifications.

Essential Job Functions include the following, but are not limited to:

  • Conceptualize and design photonic products and test systems based on system and operational requirements
  • Prototype, develop, and characterize new laser products
  • Prototype and develop new laser test system hardware and software for use in production
  • Support new product introduction into manufacturing
  • Create budgets and schedules for these new developments
  • Maintain documentation for the product/system development process
  • Create and present engineering reports for performance/qualification analysis
  • Create assembly and test work instructions; train personnel
  • Specify & purchase parts and equipment required for R&D prototype development
  • Specify and purchase parts and equipment for new test systems; interact with vendors
  • Analyze device test performance for continual improvement and new requirements



  • Experience designing, developing, and testing semiconductor lasers and/or photonic integrated circuits
  • Experience with OCT systems, or related optical imaging/measurement systems
  • Experience automating various pieces of test equipment and/or motion control.
  • Hands-on experience in the photonics industry, laser or physics lab


  • Master’s degree (or higher) in Electrical Engineering, Physics or related field(s) is required.

Specialized Knowledge and Skills:

  • Knowledge of photonic integrated circuits
  • Knowledge of OCT or related systems including signal processing algorithms
  • Experience with data analysis software (JMP, SQL, Matlab, Python)
  • Problem resolution skills for debugging new designs and assemblies
  • Manual dexterity to assemble and align precision opto-mechanical systems including interferometers and single-mode fiber coupling
  • Experience interfacing software with photonic test equipment for data acquisition
  • Knowledge of imaging laser applications, algorithms, and requirements
  • Knowledge of semiconductor lasers
  • High attention to details
  • Flexibility/adaptability in a fast-paced & dynamic environment
  • Ability to function autonomously with little direction/works well independently of others
  • Demonstrated ability to work in a team environment
  • Effective written and oral communication

Thorlabs values its diverse environment and is proud to be an Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer. All qualified individuals will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability, age or veteran status. Job descriptions are not intended as and do not create employment contracts. The organization maintains its status as an at-will employer. Employees can be terminated for any reason not prohibited by law.

22 February 2021
24 March 2021
Masters Degree
Semiconductor Processing / Manufacturing
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