Sunday, 25 June 2017 22:25

Summer interns' lab work underway Featured

    MPC-CMSE Summer Scholars tackling projects from magnetic thin films to catalysts for energy. 

    Summer Scholars co-sponsored by the Materials Processing Center and the Center for Materials Science and Engineering recently settled on their research projects and lab assignments. Summer Scholars faced a difficult decision to choose a lab after hearing enticing faculty presentations and lab tours.

    Luke Soule found all the possible projects interesting but honed in on electrochemistry, choosing to work in the Prof. Yang Shao-Horn’s Electrochemical Energy Lab. During a tour of the lab, graduate student Karthik Akkiraju presented several research projects on the role of catalysts in lowering the energy needed to stimulate electrochemical reactions in energy devices. Akkiraju said Shao-Horn looks for students who are excited about the work and encourages students to be independent and to work together as a community. He emphasized the family-like atmosphere of the group. “At EEL, you never work alone,” Akkiraju says.

    In Assistant Professor Luqiao Liu’s lab, electrical engineering and computer science graduate student Joseph T. Finley explained how he uses processes such as electron sputtering and ion milling to make magnetic thin films. The lab is developing new magnetically switchable materials for computer memory. Shortly after the lab tour, Summer Scholar Stephanie Bauman said, “I really like the one we just left, the anti-ferromagnetic, it seems to be mostly focused toward physics which is my major and more so than a lot of the other bio or chem projects.” Bauman chose to work in Liu’s lab this summer.

    Alexandra Oliveira chose to work under Raymond A. [1921] and Helen E. St. Laurent Career Development Professor of Chemical Engineering Fikile R. Brushett on redox flow batteries. ‘”Right now I’m working on the permeability of different microstructures for carbon electrodes and I’ll be attempting to electrograft molecules onto the electrodes to change their chemical properties for aqueous and non-aqueous flow batteries,” Oliveira says.

    Summer Scholar Grace Noel chose to work in Charles and Hilda Roddey Career Development Professor in Chemical Engineering William A. Tisdale’s lab on a project to make and study metal halide perovskite nanoplatelets. These platelets, which are like flat quantum dots, are sometimes just over half a unit cell in thickness and their color can be adjusted by altering their composition.

    Summer Scholar Richard B. [Ben] Canty is working in Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering Yuriy Román’s lab on a project to develop a catalyst for breaking down lignins in plant biomass into industrially useful chemicals like benzene. “I’m mixing in stuff in a tiny little batch reactor, putting it on a heater on a shelf, watching it so it doesn’t explode, centrifuging it and then running it on gas chromatographs and mass spectrometers,” Canty explains.

    During the lab tour, NanoStructures Laboratory postdoc Reza Baghdadi explained how Prof. Karl Berggren aims to develop superconducting nanowires made of niobium nitride for reducing data processing energy consumption. The internship offers a chance to learn different fabrication skills, such as photolithography and electron beam lithography, thin film deposition and etching processes, with optical and electrical studies at liquid helium temperatures, about 4.2 kelvins. Summer Scholar Saleem Iqbal chose to work in the Berggren lab this summer.

    AIM Photonics Academy interns were matched separately to their projects. Stuart Daudlin is working on “Statistical Modeling of Photonic Device Variations” with Duane Boning, the Clarence J. LeBel Professor of Electrical Engineering at MIT. Ryan Kosciolek is working on “Nonlinear Photonic Devices” with MIT Microphotonics Center Principal Research Scientist Anuradha [Anu] Agarwal. Summer Scholars attend regular weekly or bi-weekly lab group meetings. Larger groups have dedicated sub-groups as well that meet regularly.

    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. The program runs from June 15, 2017, to August 5, 2017, on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Mass.

    Summer Scholar Faculty Lab
    Alejandro Aponte Michael Cima
    Stephanie Bauman Luqiao Liu
    Lucia Brunel Gareth McKinley
    Richard B. Canty Yuriy Román
    Stuart Daudlin Duane Boning
    Amrita Duggal Paula Hammond
    Kaila Holloway Michael Strano
    Saleem Iqbal Karl Berggren
    Ryan Kosciolek Anuradha Agarwal
    Gaetana Michelet Katharina Ribbeck
    Grace Noel William Tisdale
    Alexandra Oliveira Fikile Brushett 
    Kirill Shmilovich Alfredo Alexander-Katz
    Luke Soule  Yang Shao-Horn

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    - Written by Denis Paiste, Materials Processing Center