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Optical Systems Scientist

Thorlabs, Inc., Santa Barbara, CA, 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 cross-functional position supports all aspects in the development, fabrication, characterization, and application of semiconductor supermirrors produced at Thorlabs Crystalline Solutions. Primary responsibilities include the operation, maintenance, and continued improvement of an in-house cavity ringdown measurement system used for optical characterization of production- and research-grade mirrors; evaluating process improvements by designing, executing, and interpreting quantitative test procedures; and participating in the development of ultrastable laser systems based on semiconductor supermirrors. This position involves working with a small multi-disciplinary team of scientists and engineers including mechanical and materials engineers, process technicians and physicists.

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

  • Operate and maintain optical cavity ringdown apparatus to measure physical properties of optical components
  • Provide documentation of procedures, setups, and experimental results
  • Support development and ongoing upgrades to optical cavity ringdown apparatus, including improving experimental control and increasing automation of measurement and reporting
  • Contribute to advanced laser projects by performing laser noise metrology
  • Provide and maintain an in-house suite of software solutions at the lab-deployable level to support department-wide test and measurement needs
  • Design, develop, and conduct application-based testing for products to confirm performance, quality, ease of use, and the suitability for various applications
  • Assist the content strategist in the publication of application notes and technical papers
  • Create specifications and technical documentation as well as technical reports to recommend solutions to complex technical problems
  • Develop and test semiconductor supermirrors
  • Monitor and study the latest trends and technological advancements in the photonics field as they relate to new product ideas
  • Work closely with manufacturing on prototypes and take ownership of characterization
  • Create and present effective technical presentations for product development or training purposes
  • Perform optical inspection of materials, including optical substrates and epitaxial material
  • Assist with departmental functions such as shipping and receiving, inventory control, data and documentation maintenance, as well as laboratory organization



  • 2+ years of experience in software development for limited multi-user deployment and support required.
  • 3+ years of hands-on experience with precision laser measurements and instrumentation required.


  • MSc. or higher in Experimental Physics, or related field such as Physics, Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, or Materials Science

Specialized Knowledge and Skills:

  • Proficient optical and laser alignment skills
  • Proficient computer skills and relevant modeling and mathematics software (such as COMSOL, MatLab or equivalent)
  • Strong knowledge of building instrument control interfaces using Python, C, and/or C++
  • Strong ability to work well in a group atmosphere and comply with high quality standards
  • Strong ability to shift from one task to another to address changing priorities
  • Strong communication proficiency
  • Strong decision-making skills
  • Strong planning/organizational skills
  • Working knowledge of optical design software such as Zemax or similar is a plus but not necessary

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

06 April 2021
06 May 2021
Masters Degree
Optical Components, Lasers, Sensors
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