Rutgers senior chooses Department of Energy award to study computational physics at Harvard.
|2016 Summer Scholar Jennifer Coulter will study computational physics at Harvard University after choosing among three prestigious national fellowships that she was offered. At MIT, the graduating Rutgers University senior was a research assistant to Alfredo Alexander-Katz, an associate professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Photo, Denis Paiste, Materials Processing Center.|
Rutgers physics major Jennifer Coulter struck academic gold three times this year, winning some of America’s top science fellowships to study in graduate school.
They are a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship and a Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship.
Coulter, a senior honored with a prestigious Goldwater scholarship last year, chose the Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship. She will begin her studies in the applied physics program at Harvard University this fall and pursue a doctorate in physics.
“It would be very, very cool if I could someday become a physics professor at a university,” said Coulter, 21, who is from Manasquan, New Jersey. “That’s very hard to achieve, so I’m going to give it everything I’ve got. If I can perform well enough to keep doing research, that would make me happiest.”
Arthur D. Casciato, director of Rutgers’ Office of Distinguished Fellowships, said Coulter stands out among her peers. “Considering her Goldwater scholarship last year, Jenny is probably one of the most nationally recognized students in Rutgers’ history,” he said.
A Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship provides many benefits. They include:
• $36,000-a-year stipend and full tuition and fees for up to four years at an accredited U.S. university
• $5,000 academic allowance in the first year and $1,000 in each of the following three years to purchase a computer workstation or to cover research and professional development expenses
• 12 weeks at one of 21 Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories or sites, including access to DOE supercomputers
• A rigorous program of study in a scientific or engineering discipline as well as computer science and applied mathematics
• A program review in the Washington, D.C., area each summer.
“In terms of networking and additional support, this fellowship can’t be beat,” Coulter said. She will take classes and do some research during the first two years of graduate school and focus on research during the last three or four years.
“Essentially, I will be using computational methods to tackle physics problems,” she said. “I will study methods to numerically solve difficult physics problems without analytical solutions. We take a class of very hard physics problems into problems that can be solved using supercomputers.”
Coulter, who has a 3.99 GPA and is in the honors program, lives at Douglass Residential College and is heavily involved in Rutgers research. She has worked with Karin M. Rabe, Board of Governors professor of physics, and Professor Premi Chandra in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the School of Arts and Sciences. She has also been a research assistant to Dunbar Birnie, a professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering in the School of Engineering, and to Sevil Salur, an associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Coulter is also a part-time lecturer in the Analytical Physics II Lab in that department.
Last summer, she was a research assistant to Alfredo Alexander-Katz, an associate professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, through the Summer Scholars internship program. She modeled how spinning colloidal particles move through a fixed array of obstacles. The Materials Processing Center and the Center for Materials Science and Engineering sponsor the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates internships with support from NSF’s Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers program (grant number DMR-1419807). Coulter has also been busy outside of classes and labs. She is president and outreach coordinator in the Rutgers University Society of Physics Students. She’s a mentor and program co-coordinator for the Douglass Project for Rutgers Women in Math, Science and Engineering. She’s the student representative on the Rutgers Department of Physics and Astronomy Undergraduate Studies Committee. And she won an American Physical Society grant to form Rutgers University Women in Physics and Astronomy, a group that she serves as undergraduate chair.
“I never expected to accomplish this much in physics,” said Coulter, who considered majoring in art before she took high school physics. “I just tried to do the best possible physics I could during my undergraduate years and it’s worked out well. I’m going to continue to do the best possible physics and give it everything I’ve got. I think I’m very lucky to have the opportunity to do that.
Article courtesy of Rutgers University.
– Written by Todd B. Bates, Rutgers University
May 1, 2017
MIT researchers team up with leaders from the metals and minerals industry to envision a more sustainable future.
|Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering Elsa A. Olivetti [standing, right] shares a summary of a breakout session on disposal and recovery challenges for metals and minerals with participants in the Metals & Minerals for the Environment (MME) initiative’s first public Symposium on May 11 at MIT. Photo, Davide Ciceri.|
Metals and minerals form the base of our society, with diverse applications infiltrating all corners of our lives, including agriculture, infrastructure, transportation and information technology. As populations grow, and demand for metals and minerals rises, enhancing the sustainability of the sector is a goal for many companies, communities and policymakers.
To contribute to this, on May 11-12, 2017, MIT launched the Metals & Minerals for the Environment (MME) initiative with its first public Symposium. MIT has long been home to research on myriad aspects of metals and minerals, and the MME Symposium serves to crystallize these efforts around the unique environmental and social challenges the sector faces.
Funded by the MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative, with additional support from the Industrial Liaison Program, the MME Symposium hosted industry professionals involved in sustainability, engineering, R&D, and other related topics. The event featured presentations from MIT faculty and industry experts, as well a glimpse into current research with a tour of MIT laboratories and a student-led poster session.
MME’s Principal Investigator, Assistant Professor of Metallurgy Antoine Allanore, introduced his research around metal extraction by electrolysis, which shows great promise for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing productivity. Co-Principal Investigator T. Alan Hatton, the Ralph Landau Professor of Chemical Engineering, explained his innovations in carbon capture and waste separations, providing another angle for decreasing the industry’s environmental impacts.
Other speakers suggested additional angles for achieving sustainability goals, such as Maurice F. Strong Career Development Professor Matthew Amengual’s work on the impact of mining on local communities, and Professor of Biological Engineering Bevin P. Engelward’s research on the health impacts of metals. Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering Elsa A. Olivetti discussed the potential for higher use of recycled materials and waste byproducts, while John F. Elliott Professor of Materials Chemistry Donald R. Sadoway showed the future of renewable energy battery storage, highly relevant for the remote locations of many mines. Vice President for Open Learning Sanjay Sarma closed out the Symposium, providing a vision of how the Internet of Things can be applied within the metals and minerals sector to monitor safety and increase efficiency.
“This Symposium provided a unique opportunity for MIT researchers to hear directly from the industry what their concerns are, where technologies might be deployed, and what is preventing industry from adopting some sustainability upgrades,” MME Program Manager Suzanne Greene says.
Allanore hopes that the event will culminate in a raised awareness of work at MIT that could be of immediate use to the industry, and of larger innovations under development that could serve as disruptive technologies to modernize the industry.
Learn more about the MME at metalsandminerals.mit.edu.
|Participants in the Metals & Minerals for the Environment (MME) initiative’s first public Symposium on May 11 and 12 at MIT gathered for a group shot outside Fariborz Maseeh Hall. Photo, Davide Ciceri.|
Mechanical actuators developed by MIT team expand and contract as they let oxygen in and out.
|This diagram illustrates how the thin-film material bends from its normal flat state (center) as oxygen is taken up by its structure (right) or released (left). This behavior enables the film’s shape to be controlled remotely by changing its electric charge. Courtesy of the researchers|
Carrying out maintenance tasks inside a nuclear plant puts severe strains on equipment, due to extreme temperatures that are hard for components to endure without degrading. Now, researchers at MIT and elsewhere have come up with a radically new way to make actuators that could be used in such extremely hot environments.
The system relies on oxide materials similar to those used in many of today’s rechargeable batteries, in that ions move in and out of the material during charging and discharging cycles. Whether the ions are lithium ions, in the case of lithium ion batteries, or oxygen ions, in the case of the oxide materials, their reversible motion causes the material to expand and contract.
Such expansion and contraction can be a major issue affecting the usable lifetime of a battery or fuel cell, as the repeated changes in volume can cause cracks to form, potentially leading to short-circuits or degraded performance. But for high-temperature actuators, these volume changes are a desired result rather than an unwelcome side effect.
The findings are described in a report appearing this week in the journal Nature Materials, by Jessica Swallow, an MIT graduate student; Krystyn Van Vliet, the Michael (1949) and Sonja Koerner Professor of Materials Science and Engineering; Harry Tuller, professor of materials science and engineering; and five others.“The most interesting thing about these materials is that they function at temperatures above 500 degrees Celsius,” Swallow explains.
Read more at the MIT News Office.
David L. Chandler | MIT News Office
May 8, 2017
|"The most interesting thing about these materials is they function at temperatures above 500 degrees Celsius," says MIT graduate student Jessica Swallow, pictured with the equipment used for testing the new materials. Courtesy of the researchers|
The MIT Corporation tours the state-of-the-art research facility taking shape in the heart of campus.
|MIT Professor Krystyn Van Vliet [center] describes how MIT.nano clean rooms will provide a precisely controlled environment. MIT Corporation members Gregory Turner [second-from-left] and Madeleine Gaut [third-from-left] listen along with Anuradha Agarwal [fourth-from-left], a principal research scientist at the MIT Microphotonics Center. Photo, Jake Belcher|
On a recent evening, Cathrin Stickney stood marveling at the stillness of the custom-designed imaging suites in the underground level of MIT.nano — the environmentally quietest space on campus. Laudably ultra-low vibrations, ultra-low electromagnetic interference, and acoustically silent. All in a building that, like most of the rest of MIT, sits on a century-old landfill built on swampland.
“It’s more than difficult to pull that off. It’s architecturally amazing,” Stickney, a successful entrepreneur and former architect, said. Equipped with a neon safety vest and clear safety glasses, Stickney was on site to learn more about a building that embodies one of the largest research investments in MIT history.
The leaders of MIT.nano pulled out all the stops during the first-ever tour of the 214,000 gross-square-foot research facility taking shape in the heart of MIT campus, just steps from the Infinite Corridor. The tightly choreographed public viewing involved safely navigating 60 guests, mostly members of the MIT Corporation, through what is still an active construction site.
Nanoscience and nanotechnology are driving some of the most important innovations today, in health care, energy, computing — almost every field of engineering and science. A facility that allows MIT faculty and students to play a role in these coming changes is of the Institute’s highest priority, says President L. Rafael Reif, who was along for the tour. As he has said: “Even big problems have answers if you have your hands on the right tools.”
Read more at the MIT News Office.
Meg Murphy | School of Engineering
April 7, 2017
“Quantum dots” that emit infrared light enable highly detailed images of internal body structures.
|Researchers have found a way to make tiny particles that can be injected into the body, where they emit short-wave infrared light. The advance may open up a new way of making detailed images of internal body structures such as fine networks of blood vessels. Image, Bawendi Group at MIT|
For certain frequencies of short-wave infrared light, most biological tissues are nearly as transparent as glass. Now, researchers have made tiny particles that can be injected into the body, where they emit those penetrating frequencies. The advance may provide a new way of making detailed images of internal body structures such as fine networks of blood vessels.
The new findings, based on the use of light-emitting particles called quantum dots, is described in a paper in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering, by MIT research scientist Oliver Bruns, recent graduate Thomas Bischof PhD ’15, professor of chemistry Moungi Bawendi, and 21 others.
Near-infrared imaging for research on biological tissues, with wavelengths between 700 and 900 nanometers (billionths of a meter), is widely used, but wavelengths of around 1,000 to 2,000 nanometers have the potential to provide even better results, because body tissues are more transparent to that light. “We knew that this imaging mode would be better” than existing methods, Bruns explains, “but we were lacking high-quality emitters” — that is, light-emitting materials that could produce these precise wavelengths.
Read more at the MIT News Office.
David L. Chandler | MIT News Office
April 10, 2017
Diverse group seeks MIT laboratory internship experiences in materials science, photonics, energy and biomedical applications.
This year’s incoming Summer Scholars hope to probe the range of materials science engineering challenges for nanoscale applications in medicine, electronics and photonics, while at the same time pinpointing their future graduate school research goals.
“This REU [Research Experience for Undergraduates] will expose me to topics and concepts that I will be able to apply to my advanced classes, as well as give me hands on experience in a lab environment. I'm also hoping that it will help me determine a direction for graduate school,” says Stephanie E. Bauman, a University of South Florida sophomore, who also is a U.S. Army Reserve [USAR] Blackhawk Medical Evacuation pilot, with 19 years of military service. Bauman’s unit won the Army Aviation Association of America USAR Unit of the Year Award for accomplishments during its 2012 deployment to Afghanistan.
“Some of the types of research focus I am interested in are graphene, metamaterials, nanomaterials and their usage, especially relating to space applications. I also have a strong interest in neuroscience, as well,” Bauman says.
Lucia G. Brunel, a Northwestern University junior, conducted research during summer 2015 at Polytechnic of Milan under Prof. Davide Moscatelli on nanoparticle polymers to control the rate of drug release, and was a co-author on Moscatelli’s 2016 Macromolecules article which offered a theory decoupling the size from the molecular weight for these nanoparticles.
“My long-term plans are to remain in academia, conducting polymer science research and teaching at the university level,” Brunel says. “I hope that this research experience at MIT will help me continue to develop the skills required to be a successful researcher in graduate school and eventually as a professor leading my own laboratory.”
For the first time, two AIM Photonics Academy interns will join weekly sessions of the 12 National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates interns, who are co-sponsored by the Materials Processing Center and the Center for Materials Science and Engineering at MIT. The program runs from June 15, 2017, to August 5, 2017, on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Mass.
“We’re looking forward to welcoming this new group of bright, talented undergraduates to campus, and to a rewarding and productive summer together,” says MIT Center for Materials Science and Engineering Education Officer Susan Rosevear.
University of Michigan junior Stuart R. Daudlin, who will be one of the AIM Photonics Academy interns, hopes to work with design and simulation tools to learn about the physics and manufacturing processes of photonic devices. “Using these computational methods, I hope to develop design parameters for optimized device performance,” he says.
“I am most looking forward to being immersed in a cohort of MIT researchers and the other undergraduate interns,” adds Daudlin, who is majoring in engineering physics.
“MIT is synonymous with innovation and development,” notes Amrita (Amy) Duggal, who like Bauman, also served in Afghanistan. Duggal, who left her home in India at 17 for the United States, served for six years in the U.S. Navy Seabees. “Observing and working with highly intellectual and accomplished mentors will help me, both, narrow down and clarify my future career goals even further,” she says.
Duggal was part of the winning team last summer in the eight-week PIPELINES [Problem-based Initiatives for Powerful Engagement and Learning In Naval Engineering and Science] program co-sponsored by the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the Navy Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center at Port Hueneme, Calif. Duggal’s project focused on designing an automated solar panel cleaning system that would remove dust from panels in desert conditions.
Pennsylvania State University junior Grace H. Noel hopes to work with research in nanotechnology, photonics, or electrochemistry. “I am especially interested in applications for renewable energy technology, including photovoltaics and energy storage,” she says. Since she hopes to pursue a doctorate in chemical engineering, Noel says, “This experience will help me develop research skills and figure out what areas I want to study in graduate school. I feel fortunate to have this great opportunity that will help me prepare for my future.”
Kirill Y. Shmilovich, a University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, junior, plans to develop new skills at MIT this summer in engineering and instrument programming, as well as learning new theory and mathematical modeling. “Everything that will make me a competitive applicant to graduate schools and employers alike,” he hopes.
Luke P. Soule is most looking forward to working closely with great mentors. “I can't wait to learn from researchers with years of experience and great ideas,” the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology junior says. “Completing this internship would be a big step forward in my career as a research scientist. I will learn to tackle problems in science like the pros do!”
Gaetana H. Michelet, a University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez, mechanical engineering major, is leaning towards bioengineering and medicine. “I am eager to acquire as much hands on experience as I can in order to apply the theoretical concepts I have studied in college. I would then use this knowledge to elaborate and conceive biological and medical applications,” she says.
Participating in a college team building a chemically powered car motivated University of Connecticut sophomore Alexandra Oliveira to pursue research in chemical engineering. During her summer internship, she would like to work on lithium ion batteries. “This experience will help me develop a greater understanding of chemical and materials engineering, and prepare me to pursue a graduate degree in my field. It will also teach me to be a better scientist, student, and thinker,” Oliveira says.
Howard University junior Kaila Holloway has lab experience making silver phosphate nanoparticles and re-creating miroestrol, a plant-based estrogen compound. “As a chemistry major, research experience is crucial to my success and can make me a more qualified applicant for any post-baccalaureate opportunities,” she says. She hopes the Summer Scholars program will help her to hone her skills as a researcher and gain practical knowledge only available outside the classroom.
Rutgers University junior Ryan N. Kosciolek, a double major in physics and mathematics, will be an AIM Photonics Academy intern. “I am most looking forward to getting a chance to meet and work alongside the world renowned researchers and faculty at the Materials Processing Center,” he says. Kosciolek believes the potential of integrated photonics is still largely untapped and hopes to both design and test new nonlinear photonic devices during the summer.
Saleem Iqbal, a University of New Mexico junior majoring in physics, hopes to become a research scientist in academia or industry. “I'm excited to learn more about how advances in condensed matter physics and photonics can be applied to transformative applications in materials science. This summer at MIT will undoubtedly be an unforgettable experience and a great stepping stone towards my goal of becoming a research scientist,” Iqbal says.
Richard B. (Ben) Canty, a University of Virginia junior, plans to pursue a doctorate in chemical engineering with a focus on nanoreactors. He hopes his summer internship will give him the opportunity to explore the field of nanoscience, particularly nanoreactors, to advance production capabilities in health or energy fields.
Alejandro Aponte-Lugo is a junior at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez, [UPRM] majoring in mechanical engineering. “I am passionate about the idea of combining vibrations and sound waves to alter or generate a specific internal structure of a material,” he says. Aponte is a co-author, along with 2016 Summer Scholar Ashley Del Valle and three others, of an IEEE Xplore conference report, “A solar simulation research with an academic learning experience,” explaining how UPRM’s Solar Simulator Research Team designed and built a solar simulator. Dr. Eduardo I. Ortiz Rivera supervised the undergraduate team.
The majority of the interns will select their own projects from faculty presentations given during the first few days of the program. However, the two photonics participants are already assigned their mentors. Stuart Daudlin will work on “Statistical Modeling of Photonic Device Variations” with Duane Boning, the Clarence J. LeBel Professor of Electrical Engineering at MIT. Ryan Kosciolek will work on “Nonlinear Photonic Devices” with MIT Microphotonics Center Principal Research Scientist Anuradha (Anu) Agarwal.
“It seems like a wonderful opportunity. Anu and Duane are very excited about their students, and it will tie them into a broader network so that they become part of the AIM family of universities,” says Julie Diop, Program Manager for AIM Photonics Academy. AIM Photonics Academy interns are part of “AIM Photonics Future Leaders: Research and Professional Skills Training Program,” which also will have participants at University of Santa Barbara [UCSB], University of Arizona and SUNY Polytechnic Albany. AIM Photonics interns from the four participating universities will convent at UCSB Aug. 10-11.
The REU internships are supported in part by NSF’s Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers program [grant DMR-14-19807]. Participants will present their results at a poster session the last week of the program.
– Denis Paiste, Materials Processing Center
April 27, 2017
Rubbery, multifunctional fibers could be used to study spinal cord neurons and potentially restore function.
|Researchers have developed a rubber-like fiber, shown here, that can flex and stretch while simultaneously delivering both optical impulses, for optoelectronic stimulation, and electrical connections, for stimulation and monitoring. Video, Chi (Alice) Lu and Seongjun Park|
Implantable fibers have been an enormous boon to brain research, allowing scientists to stimulate specific targets in the brain and monitor electrical responses. But similar studies in the nerves of the spinal cord, which might ultimately lead to treatments to alleviate spinal cord injuries, have been more difficult to carry out. That’s because the spine flexes and stretches as the body moves, and the relatively stiff, brittle fibers used today could damage the delicate spinal cord tissue.
Now, researchers have developed a rubber-like fiber that can flex and stretch while simultaneously delivering both optical impulses, for optoelectronic stimulation, and electrical connections, for stimulation and monitoring. The new fibers are described in a paper in the journal Science Advances, by MIT graduate students Chi (Alice) Lu and Seongjun Park, Professor Polina Anikeeva, and eight others at MIT, the University of Washington, and Oxford University.
“I wanted to create a multimodal interface with mechanical properties compatible with tissues, for neural stimulation and recording,” as a tool for better understanding spinal cord functions, says Lu. But it was essential for the device to be stretchable, because “the spinal cord is not only bending but also stretching during movement.” The obvious choice would be some kind of elastomer, a rubber-like compound, but most of these materials are not adaptable to the process of fiber drawing, which turns a relatively large bundle of materials into a thread that can be narrower than a hair.
The spinal cord “undergoes stretches of about 12 percent during normal movement,” says Anikeeva, who is the Class of 1942 Career Development Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
Read more at the MIT News Office.
David L. Chandler | MIT News Office
March 31, 2017
New technique produces highly conductive graphene wafers.
|Researchers at MIT have found a way to make graphene with fewer wrinkles, and to iron out the wrinkles that do appear. They found each wafer exhibited uniform performance, meaning that electrons flowed freely across each wafer, at similar speeds, even across previously wrinkled regions.|
From an electron’s point of view, graphene must be a hair-raising thrill ride. For years, scientists have observed that electrons can blitz through graphene at velocities approaching the speed of light, far faster than they can travel through silicon and other semiconducting materials.
Graphene, therefore, has been touted as a promising successor to silicon, with the potential to enable faster, more efficient electronic and photonic devices.
But manufacturing pristine graphene — a single, perfectly flat, ultrathin sheet of carbon atoms, precisely aligned and linked together like chickenwire — is extremely difficult. Conventional fabrication processes often generate wrinkles, which can derail an electron’s bullet-train journey, significantly limiting graphene’s electrical performance.
Now engineers at MIT have found a way to make graphene with fewer wrinkles, and to iron out the wrinkles that do appear. After fabricating and then flattening out the graphene, the researchers tested its electrical conductivity. They found each wafer exhibited uniform performance, meaning that electrons flowed freely across each wafer, at similar speeds, even across previously wrinkled regions.
In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers report that their techniques successfully produce wafer-scale, “single-domain” graphene — single layers of graphene that are uniform in both atomic arrangement and electronic performance.
Read more at the MIT News Office.
Jennifer Chu | MIT News Office
April 3, 2017