The primary mission of NRAO’s Central Development Laboratory (CDL) is to develop new technology for the next generation of radio astronomy telescopes. CDL also helps train the next generation of engineers and technicians and works with industry partners on licensed production of some of our patented technologies. The lab is the world leader in the application of many of the technologies used in radio astronomy.
Where We Came From
For over 30 years, engineers at CDL have been developing groundbreaking and first-of-their-kind technologies for radio astronomy with wide-reaching implications. CDL launched in 1968 with a parametric amplifier receiver for L-band for the 140-ft telescope and has been filing patents and breaking barriers ever since. CDL engineers have developed X-band amplifiers with record-breaking noise performance that were critical to the NASA Voyager 2 mission. In 2011, CDL filed a patent application for a new class of reflectionless filters that has been a commercial success for our industry partner, Mini-Circuits, and will be used in many future radio astronomy applications. This is just a small sample of the ideas that CDL engineers have turned into reality over the past five decades.
Where We Are Going
In the coming years, the Central Development Laboratory will continue to push the boundaries in radio astronomy. It will also explore new technologies such as cryogenic phased array feeds and highly integrated receivers. This work will enhance current radio telescope facilities and lay the foundation for the next generation of radio observatories.
In the News
Following a generous grant from the Heising-Simons Foundation, the Central Development Laboratory (CDL) at NSF’s National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) will soon launch an ambitious Women in Engineering program that will increase opportunities for women to enter the field of radio astronomy through engineering pathways. The program will include a postdoctoral fellowship and a co-op program for undergraduate and graduate students.
A team of engineers testing the design efficiency of reflectors for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s upcoming next generation Very Large Array (ngVLA) has received the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Harold A. Wheeler Applications Prize Paper Award.