What is CDL?

Our Mission

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.

Learn More about CDL


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CDL and Radio Astronomy

How CDL enables world class science

CDL and The World

How CDL tech finds its way into other industries

CDL and You

What it’s like to work at CDL

CDL in the News