Physics, according to Jacob Taylor, is studying how nature works at a fundamental level, and using that knowledge to
apply it in different ways. Jacob has been working hard at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, thinking through new technologies as a theoretical physicist (yes, the same title as Dr. Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory). Recently, Christopher Dorobek of the DorobekINSIDER sat down with Jacob to discuss Jacob’s accomplishments — which made him a finalist for the Sammies — and what it means to be a scientist working for government.
The two projects Jacob has been working on which qualify him to be a Service to America Medal finalist are using light to transfer data without turning it into electrons and using diamond dust in sensors with medical applications.
Right now, fiber optic cables installed for the Internet switch photons (light) into electrons (electricity) and back to photons (light). The light travels considerably faster and more efficiently than the electrons, but unfortunately computers aren’t able to read the light energy, and thus it must be switched to and from electrons throughout the process. The process would be much more efficient if computers were able to read the data in photon form, which is exactly what Jacob is working on, and has a patent pending for.
He is also using diamond-tipped sensors which perform magnetic resonance tests in individual cells or molecules. His team accidentally stumbled upon this when they were researching the matter in diamonds, and kept picking up noise. Originally leading to bad test results, they determined that the ability of diamonds to detect things happening nearby could have applications in sensing and imaging. A more simple way of thinking of this is that it could be used as a micro or nano-scopic MRI scanner. This technology would have applications in medical imaging.
Jacob Taylor enjoys public service because unlike in academia, there isn’t a pressure for tenure and to produce a certain amount of papers a year to increase the ‘street-cred’ (my words) of his university. Instead, he is able to work towards real applications and solving long-term challenges.
To listen to Jacob Taylor’s entire interview, you can catch the full radio show at GovLoop Insights or you can subscribe to our iTunes channel.
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