In 1991, Benjamin Taylor enlisted as an avionics electronics technician at Naval Air Station Miramar, San Diego. Fast forward twenty-five years, and Taylor, is now a senior researcher at the Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific) and awarded the Department of Defense's Laboratory Scientist of the Quarter. His lead role in developing new superconducting quantum interference devices for the detection of radio frequency (RF) transmissions greatly improved the U.S. military's gathering of signals intelligence.
“Our people —– the talented scientists and engineers performing the complex, state-of-the-art research, development, and engineering required to ensure America’s future technological superiority in an increasingly competitive global security environment—are key to the Defense Science and Technology Program’s success,” said Stephen Welby, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. “And our Research and Engineering enterprise measures its success in the security of our nation and the success of our warfighters.”
Taylor’s research with state-of-the-art micro- and nano-scale circuitry focuses on High Temperature Superconducting (HTS) Superconducting Quantum Interference Device (SQUID) arrays for the detection of RF signals. SQUID arrays are small wideband and sensitive detectors that will significantly reduce the number of antenna systems the warfighter requires to dominate the RF spectrum. This reduction has implications across many mission areas ranging from Special Operations capabilities to topside antenna systems synthesis and the corresponding reduction in radar cross sections.
Communication is key to Taylor, both in his area of RF research and how he explains it to the wider community. He advises budding scientists to “find a way to communicate the significance of your work to many different kinds of audiences. Figure out what about your work will be of interest to others.” But most important, he says, is to “take advantage of opportunities with direct contact with the warfighters. Often times they will see potential for use or adaptation that can be quickly implemented to meet an immediate mission need.”
Taylor began his professional career at SSC, where he joined the Cryogenic Exploitation of Radio Frequency (CERF) Lab. There, he investigated fundamental physical and electronic properties of HTS materials. His passion for studying the behavior of HTS materials began as an undergraduate and led to his choice of graduate study. Taylor received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics and graduated summa cum laude from San Diego State University in 1999. In 2006, he received his Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego, in the field of experimental condensed matter physics with an emphasis on superconductivity, and conducted post-doctoral research from 2006-2010.