Undergrad Summer Research

working in lab

 

So you want to make the most of your summer and get research experience. There are two options:

 

  • For UM undergraduate students: Summer Undergraduate Research in Engineering – SURE
  • For non-UM undergraduate students: Summer Research Opportunity Program – SROP

 

To learn more about these programs, check out the College of Engineering summer research website. There you’ll find the full criteria and selection process. 

 

If you’re interested in doing material sciences and engineering research, below are listed the most recent descriptions of 2018 SURE projects available in Materials Science and Engineering. Please consider this list carefully before applying to the SURE program.

 

Deadlines

·         Faculty project submission deadline: December 7, 2018

·         SURE Program application launches: December 15, 2018

·         January 15, 2019, is the application deadline. Begin identifying a summer project, use the list below to contact and meet with the faculty you are interested in working with. 

·         February 20, 2019, is the department student nomination deadline

·         Late February to early/mid-March, student notification begins

 

Available Projects: 

 

MSE PROJECT 1:

Title: Materials Science in Four Dimensions

Faculty Mentor:  Ashwin Shahani (shahani@umich.edu)

Prerequisites: The student has taken Thermodynamics (or an equivalent course.)

 

Description:  

Crystal growth is of fundamental importance and practical relevance to a broad spectrum of scientists and engineers.  Various interfacial morphologies with pronounced orientational order have been observed, e.g., dendritic (tree-like) and faceted, depending on the physical properties of the material.  The inherent complexity of such structures, including their morphological evolution, remain unexplained by existing models. Thus, there is ample potential for the SURE/SROP student to better understand the underlying growth dynamics using state-of-the-art characterization methods.  The student will be actively involved in the preparation of samples, the characterization of nano- and meso-scale architectures, and the analysis of the Big Data obtained.  The student will be directly mentored by the Principal Investigator (Prof. Shahani) on all aspects of the proposed research. 

 

*MSE PROJECT 2:

Title:   Gallium Nanoparticle Plasmonics

Faculty Mentor:  Rachel Goldman (rsgold@umich.edu)

Prerequisites:  A strong interest in experimental science and/or engineering is required. Completion of Introductory Chemistry and Physics Labs is preferred but not required.

 

Description:

Metal nanoparticle arrays often exhibit collective electron oscillations (plasmon resonances) which are promising for enhanced light emission, efficient solar energy harvesting, ultra-sensitive biosensing, and optical cloaking.  To date, materials research and device fabrication have focused nearly exclusively on silver and gold nanoparticle dispersions in two dimensions; these arrays exhibit plasmon resonances limited to visible wavelengths.  Recently, we demonstrated a novel method to assemble high-quality gallium nanoparticle arrays with surface plasmon resonances tunable from the infrared to visible wavelength range.  In this summer project, we explore the influence of gallium nanoparticle arrays on the properties of compound semiconductor solar cells, using a combination of electromagnetic simulations, molecular-beam epitaxy, atomic-force microscopy, and optical spectroscopy.

 

*MSE PROJECT 3:

Title:   Enhancing p-type Doping of GaN for Power Electronics: A Combined Computational-Experimental Approach

Faculty Mentor:  Rachel Goldman (rsgold@umich.edu)

Prerequisites:  A strong interest in experimental science and/or engineering is required. Completion of Introductory Chemistry and Physics Labs is preferred but not required.

Objectives: Although silicon-based electronics are used to power light-emitting diodes and electric vehicles, their utility in high power applications is limited by a low breakdown voltage. Widebandgap semiconductors, such as gallium nitride and related alloys, have been proposed as alternatives, but the effective p-type doping at high concentrations remains elusive. For example, Mg dopant activation following ion implantation, selective diffusion, and metalorganic vapor deposition requires high temperature annealing which may disrupt the active device structure. In the case of molecular beam epitaxy, surfactants and co-dopants such as O and Si have been explored, but the concentration of substitutional Mg is often limited, leading to limited p-type doping efficiency. Here, we are developing a novel approach to enhance the p-type doping of GaN and related alloys.

Methodology: The project involves a combined computational-experimental approach consisting focused-ion- beam (FIB) nano-implantation of Mg in GaN during molecular-beam epitaxy (MBE), followed by computational and experimental ion channeling studies of the Mg incorporation mechanisms.

Undergraduate Role: Possible undergraduate projects include the following:

1. Development of a modified Mg-Ga alloy source for focused-ion-beam nano-implantation

2. Ion channeling measurements of doping and point defects in GaN and related alloys.

3. Monte Carlo-Molecular Dynamics simulations of doping and point defects in GaN and related alloys

Minimum Qualifications: A strong interest in experimental science and/or engineering is required. Completion of Introductory Chemistry and Physics Labs are preferred but not required.

 

*MSE PROJECT 4:

Title: Quantitative Characterization of Microstructural Evolution and Mechanical Behavior in Light Alloys

Faculty Mentor:  John Allison - (johnea@umich.edu)

Prerequisites: Undergraduate education in Materials Science and Engineering, successful completion of a materials science and engineering laboratory course is preferred, strong interest in metals.

 

Description:

The goal of this project is to develop a quantitative understanding of microstructural evolution and the impact of microstructure on mechanical properties of advanced lightweight metals.  Such quantitative knowledge is essential for development of integrated computational materials engineering tools.   Materials of interest are advanced alloys of aluminum, magnesium and titanium. The summer researcher will utilize advanced characterization tools to quantify the effects of deformation and heat treatment on microstructure and tensile properties. The student will gain experience in physical metallurgy, mechanical behavior and microstructural characterization.

 

 

 

MSE PROJECT 5:

MSE Project: Kirigami / Origami photovoltaics 
Faculty Mentor: Max Shtein (mshtein@umich.edu
Prerequisites: Calculus, Physics, Chemistry, Intro to Materials 

 

Description:

This project aims to extend the original research done by U of M engineers*: a novel solar cell structure inspired by the Japanese art of Kirigami that enables it to both track the position of the sun in the sky and be compact enough for rooftop mounting. Rather than tracking the sun by rotating the entire solar panel with large motors or employing mirrors, an array of smaller photovoltaic cells is created inside this system, tilted by simply stretching a thin sheet of the semiconductor material bonded to a flexible carrier. While the basic proof-of-concept for this technology already exists, further development is needed to create a compelling demonstration system, something which could eventually turn into a marketable product with high performance. To that end, the student will be part of a team that will further develop the kirigami solar cell platform, pairing novel geometric features and mechanical actuation with optical design, control electronics and an app that will allow for module integration, easy installation, and automatic calibration for a user’s latitude. The team will also make a scaled version of the device.

* “Dynamic kirigami structures for integrated solar tracking.” Aaron Lamoureux, Kyusang Lee, Matthew Shlian, Stephen R Forrest, Max Shtein, Nature Communications (2015) doi:10.1038/ncomms9092

* “Origami Solar-Tracking Concentrator Array for Planar Photovoltaics.” Kyusang Lee, Chih-Wei Chien, Byungjun Lee, Aaron Lamoureux, Matt Shlian, Max Shtein, PC Ku, Stephen Forrest, ACS Photonics (2016) doi:10.1021/acsphotonics.6b00592

Goals for 2018:

  • Understand and model the geometric, optical, mechanical, and electric response of the system
  • Produce a working scale model of the structure and mechatronic actuation system
  • Produce a preliminary app to link with and control the mechatronic actuation system
  • Develop a business model for an initial product based on the kirigami solar cell system

 

*MSE PROJECT 6:

MSE Project: Silsesquioxanes as Components in Hybrid Photovoltaics

Faculty Mentor: Richard M. Laine - talsdad@umich.edu

 

Description:  Silsesquioxanes are polyhedral structures that consist of an inner silica cage to which are appended functional organic groups.  Selected structures are shown below.  The iodo T8 compound provides access to a wide variety of materials and especially to polymers (not shown). All of these materials seem to show 3-D conjugation in the excited state even in polymer chains…suggesting semiconducting behavior rather than the behavior expected for an insulating cage.  The project will involve synthesis and/or characterization of the properties of these materials.

 

 

MSE PROJECT 7:

MSE Project:  AVMR Learning Modules in MSE

Faculty Mentor: Joanna Millunchick (joannamm@umich.edu)

Prerequisites: None, MSE220 or MSE250 preferred. 

Description: Augmented, Virtual, and Mixed Reality (AVMR) is the next technological breakthrough that will fundamentally shift the way that knowledge is captured and taught.  New platforms based in part on common smartphone technology are just a few years from becoming inexpensive and widespread, making its adoption in classrooms inevitable.  The time is now to investigate how AVMR may be used to teach engineering, and Prof. Millunchick is engaged in several projects exploring this topic. The research will focus on formulating, testing, and refining classroom-based learning modules in MSE and related engineering topics.  Responsibilities for the student include: (a) collecting classroom observation data or survey data, (b) managing data using excel, (c) analyzing data both qualitatively and quantitatively, and (d) communicating outcomes in verbal and written form. The student will work closely with Prof. Millunchick and may also be part of a team of researchers from Materials Science, Engineering Education, and AVMR developers. Interested students should contact Prof. Millunchick (joannamm@umich.edu) for more information or to apply.

 

 

MSE PROJECT 8:

MSE Project:  The benefit of extra-curriculars in engineering

Faculty Mentor: Joanna Millunchick (joannamm@umich.edu)

Prerequisites: Knowledge of statistics and/or experience with statistics analysis packages preferred. 

 

Description: It is widely presumed that participating in extra-curricular engineering activities are beneficial to students, however, there is very little in the literature specifically in engineering education to support such claims.  This research is focused on determining who participates in engineering honors and professional societies and design teams, how they decided to participate in the activities, and what benefits are conferred. The research will focus on analyzing data gathered from a college-wide survey of current students having junior or senior standing.  Responsibilities for the student include: (a) managing data using a statistical analysis package, (b) analyzing data both qualitatively and quantitatively, and (c) communicating outcomes in verbal and written form. The student will work closely with Prof. Millunchick and may also be part of a team of researchers from Materials Science, Engineering Education, and the School of Education. Interested students should contact Prof. Millunchick (joannamm@umich.edu) for more information or to apply.

 

 

*MSE Project 9:

MSE Project:  Characterization of immiscible metallic alloy systems fabricated via additive manufacturing. 

Faculty Mentor: Amit Misra (amitmis@umich.edu)

Prerequisites: Thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, some background characterization experience would be nice, strong willingness to learn.

Description:  Interesting properties arise in immiscible alloy systems that can consist of two metals with different crystal structures.  The plastic deformation behavior is contingent on the length scale of the immiscible alloy layers and the microstructure, which is variant due to composition, temperature, and fabrication conditions. With increasingly small layer length scale, the mechanical properties are anticipated to to increase proportionally, following the Hall-Petch relationship. However, at smaller length scales, the mechanics may become more interface dominated and thus have more robust, alternative deformation mechanisms. We will characterize the immiscible alloy system at quasi static strain rates and note the defects generated to establish a baseline. Future work will view the plastic behavior as a function of strain rate. Students working on this project will gain knowledge in three core areas: the additive manufacturing techniques used to fabricate the samples, characterization of samples and microstructural analysis, and how to present scientific knowledge in an intelligible manner. A good deal of the work will focus on characterizing the samples and be a good entry point for any students looking to enter graduate school and gain experience with important experimental techniques while working directly with senior graduate students. The project will culminate in a final presentation for the student to practice scientific oration. 

 

 

MSE Project 10:

MSE Project: Microstructure Evolution and Electrochemical Performance of Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Electrodes
Faculty Mentor: Katsuyo Thornton (kthorn@umich.edu
Prerequisites: Some programming experience and basic materials science knowledge

Description:  Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) are among the promising clean electricity generation methods.  However, in order to realize wide-spread application, the efficiency and longitivtiy must be improved.  The summer researcher will utilize computational tools to examine the effects of microstructure on the electrochemical performance of hydrogen fuel cell electrodes. He/she will simulate the microstructure evolution of SOFC electrodes, and examine how it changes their electrochemical responses.  Through this project, the student will gain experience in computational materials science.

 

 

*MSE Project 11:

MSE Project:  PLD growth of monolayer transition metal dichalcogenides
Faculty Mentor:  Dr. John Heron
Prerequisites: A strong interest in experimental science and/or engineering is required. Completion of Introductory Chemistry and Physics Labs is preferred but not required.

Description:  Transition metal dichalcogenides (TMD), with composition MX2 (M={Mo, W}, X={S, Se, Te}), are promising candidates for a variety of spintronics applications due to their intrinsic band properties that couple spin and valley degrees of freedom. Typically, monolayer TMDs are realized through exfoliation and transfer processes that result in small flakes with large defects densities and poor quality interfaces with other materials. This project focuses on the growth of ultrahigh quality, single crystalline, and epitaxial TMD films using pulsed laser deposition (PLD). PLD is a physical vapor deposition method done in vacuum to enable the controlled growth of high quality materials. The students on this project will learn vacuum systems, vacuum deposition, and structural and electronic characterization of thin films using atomic force microscopy, Raman spectroscopy, magnetometry, in addition to electron and magnetotransport measurements.

The work focuses on materials synthesis but will enable collaboration and expansion into other fields such as optoelectronics, spintronics, and quantum information.

 

*MSE Project 12:

MSE Project:  3D Reconstruction of Materials at Unprecedented Length Scales
Faculty Mentor:  Dr. Robert Hovden
Prerequisites: A strong GPA in core calculus courses.

Understanding the complete 3D structure of materials at the nanoscale is now possible with electron tomography. However, minimizing the number projections and maximizing 3D resolution for electron tomography experiments is a well-known challenge. Due to beam sensitivity and a ‘missing wedge’ of unsampled information, the quality of tomographic reconstructions is commonly degraded by blurring and greatly limited in size and resolution. To circumvent this issue, we propose through-focal experiments to probe key structural information present in the third dimension. We can utilize our knowledge of the contrast transfer function to reconstruct 3D objects from a discrete number of slices. Our approach can produce high-resolution tomograms across unprecedented specimen sizes and with minimal projections by understanding how information is collected in focal slices in k-space.

This work is at the intersection of Experimental Materials Physics and Data / Computer Science. Ambitious undergraduates in the Hovden lab have published manuscripts, conducted experiments across the country, won selective awards, and lectured to expert audiences.

 

*MSE Project 13:

MSE Project:  The Atomic Arrangement of Quantum Materials
Faculty Mentor:  Dr. Robert Hovden
Prerequisites: A strong GPA in core calculus courses.

A wide range of materials exhibit exotic quantum phenomena, such as superconductivity, charge density waves, metal-insulator transitions, and colossal magnetoresistance. This emergent quantum behavior most often occurs at low-temperatures that sufficiently freeze out the lattice vibrations that disrupt the phase coherence of electrons. Without low-temperature characterization quantum phases cannot be understood, or worse, are overlooked entirely. These unique phases are not only driven by changes in temperature, but also by doping, pressure, and external electric and magnetic fields. Understanding and controlling the influence of local disorder, external electric fields, temperature, and lattice strain on correlated-electron systems across the atomic to the mesoscale remains an fundamental challenge for quantum materials research. 

This work is at the intersection of Experimental Materials Physics and Data / Computer Science. Ambitious undergraduates in the Hovden lab have published manuscripts, conducted experiments across the country, won selective awards, and lectured to expert audiences.