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 2020 SURE and SROP projects available in Materials Science and Engineering. Please consider this list carefully before applying to the SURE or SROP program.

 

Deadlines

 January 15, 2020 - SURE Program application deadline

 

To Apply:

https://sure.engin.umich.edu/gradadmissions_sure_suresropapplication-html/

After completing your application, you can begin identifying a summer project by using the list below to contact and meet with the faculty you are interested in working with.  

 

Available Projects: 

MSE Project 1

MACRO Project Title: Silsesquioxanes as Components in Hybrid Photovoltaics 

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

 

Project 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 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.

 

Project 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.

 

Project Description:  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.  Wide bandgap 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.  Possible 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

 

MSE Project 4

Title:  Writing to Learn in Materials Science and Engineering

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

Prerequisites: An interest in science and/or engineering education research is required. Completion of Introductory Chemistry, Physics, and Materials Science is preferred but not required.

Project Description:  M-Write is a campus-wide project which aims to transform teaching and learning in gateway courses through enhanced student engagement and transformative learning.  In Materials Science and Engineering (MSE), we are implementing Writing to Learn (WTL) assignments and peer review in courses spanning from introductory undergraduate to advanced graduate levels.  The WTL assignments enable students to apply content knowledge to “real-world” situations via writing, which promotes deeper thinking and compels students to explain concepts in their own words.  The subsequent peer review and revision processes provide additional learning opportunities as the students give and receive feedback on content and critically self-assess their own work.  In this project, we aim to quantify the influence of WTL assignments on student understanding of key concepts in introductory MSE courses.  The project involves evaluated the effectiveness of the WTL assignments and their impact on student learning.  Both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies will be utilized, including pre/post assessment surveys and interviews, as well as analysis of writing products.  

Methodology: The project involves analyzing the influence of student engagement with the WTL assignments on student learning.  In addition to interviewing students about assignments implemented in the course, survey results and writing products will be analyzed by drafting and applying rubrics for scoring the responses.    In addition, statistical analyses and presentations of the data will be prepared.

 

MSE Project 5

Title:  Oxidation mechanisms of refractory alloys

Faculty Mentor:  Emmanuelle Marquis (emarq@umich.edu)

Prerequisites:  Motivated, independent student. Good communication skills. Proficient in metallography and scanning electron microscopy.

 

Project Description:  Refractory alloys are intended for high temperature applications where their poor oxidation resistance is a significant limiting factor. This project is aimed at developing alloy compositions and microstructures that reduce oxidation rates and increase the application windows of these alloys, starting with developing an understanding of the fundamental mechanisms of oxidation of simple refractory alloys. The student will learn and be responsible for reading and summarizing the existing published literature, making alloys, conducting oxidation experiments, characterizing microstructures and phases, and discussing and presenting results with mentor and research group. 

 

MSE Project 6

MSE Project:  Charcterization of nano mechanical behavior of advanced metallic alloys

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

Prerequisites:  Introductory materials science course (MSE 220 or 250, required), courses designed in structure, mechanics, mechanical behavior and materials characterization, and a strong enthusiasm for experimental science and/ or engineering.

 

Project Description:  Additive manufacturing has opened up new avenues in the designing of components which find extensive use starting from the aerospace and automobile industry to biomaterials such as hip and knee joints. Direct metal deposition (DMD) by laser melting, is one such process which enables co-deposition of different metallic powders to tailor an alloy with required properties. The thermal gradient developed during the process, due to various factors like laser power, time and hatch style to name a few, enable the formation of interesting 3D morphologies which exhibit interesting properties, which are sometimes exceptional. Therefore, it seems to be an opportune moment for a SURE/SROP student to gather some deeper insights into DMD processing. The student will learn about the DMD process, prepare samples using various parameters and characterize the microstructures and correlate it with its mechanical properties using techniques such as x-ray diffraction, nanoindentation and scanning electron microscopy. The student will be mentored by a postdoc fellow along with the Principal Investigator (Prof. Amit Misra) on all aspects of the proposed research.

  

MSE Project 7

Title:   3D Reconstruction of Materials at Unprecedented Length Scales
Faculty Mentor:  Robert Hovden (hovden@umich.edu
Prerequisites:  A strong GPA in core calculus courses.

Projext Description:  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 8
Title:   The Atomic Arrangement of Quantum Materials
Faculty Mentor:  Robert Hovden (hovden@umich.edu
Prerequisites:  A strong GPA in core calculus courses.

Project Description:  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.

 

MSE Project 9

Title:  Ultrafast laser solid interaction

Faculty Mentor:  Steve Yalisove (smy@umich.edu

Prerequisites:  Passion and desire to do research and at least a year working in an ultrafast laser/material interaction laboratory.

 

Project Description:  Study the interaction of ultrafast laser irradiation on metals, semiconductors, polymers, and insulators using electron and optical microscopy techniques.  The student will perform the irradiations, sample making, characterization techniques, and analysis.  The student will also be expected to develop mechanisms and suggest experiments to test these mechanisms that are consistent with the data.

 

MSE Project 10

Title:  Atomistic Simulations of Grain Boundaries in Mg Alloys

Faculty Mentor:   Liang Qi (qiliang@umich.edu)

Prerequisites:   MSE 350 (Structures of Materials) and some background in computer programming.

 

Project Description:  Structures and properties of grain boundaries (GBs) are critical for the physical and mechanical performances of polycrystalline alloys. There are two general challenges in studying GBs by atomistic simulations. First, it is difficult to obtain stable/metastable structures and compositions of grain boundaries due to many macroscopic and microscopic degrees of freedom. Second, it is challenging to build quantitative connections between grain boundary properties and materials performances.  Our group is developing a genetic algorithm (GA) code to generate the stable and metastable GBs in pure metals and alloys based on the grand canonical ensemble. In this project, the student is expected to apply the GA code to generate GBs in several Mg binary alloys (Mg-Al, Mg-Y, and Mg-Zn). The student will apply the molecular dynamics simulations to study the plastic deformation of bi-crystals that contain GBs. The results will be used to identify the key structural and chemical factors that control the dislocation nucleation from GBs. This study can enhance our understanding of GB effects for the mechanical and texture behavior in advanced Mg alloys as promising lightweight structural alloys.  

 

MSE Project 11

Title:  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

 

Project 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.

 

ECE Project 12

Title:  Gallium oxide power devices

Faculty Mentor: Becky Peterson (blpeters@umich.edu)

Prerequisites:  Motivated, independent student, interested in experimental work in the LNF cleanroom.

Project Description:  To combat climate change, it is crucial to increase the efficiency of power conversion circuits. We have developed new technologies to exploit an ultra-wide bandgap semiconductor, gallium oxide that can be used for direct switching at very high voltages of several kV. One of the key challenges is designing a MOSFET transistor that is normally-off to minimize parasitic current flow. To address this challenge, this project focuses on developing advanced gate stacks for gallium oxide MOSFET devices. You will work with a team of graduate students. Activities will includes investigating novel approaches for atomic layer deposition using equipment in the Lurie Nanofabrication Facility and performing electrical and materials characterization of the resulting layers.

ECE Project 13

Title:  Epitaxy of gallium oxide

Faculty Mentor: Becky Peterson (blpeters@umich.edu)

Prerequisites:  Motivated, independent student, interested in experimental work in materials growth.

 

Project Description:  To combat climate change, it is crucial to increase the efficiency of power conversion circuits. We have developed new technologies to exploit an ultra-wide bandgap semiconductor, gallium oxide that can be used for direct switching at very high voltages of several kV. One of the key challenges is lack of a fast method for depositing the thick layers needed for high voltage devices. This project focuses on developing a new approach for epitaxially growing gallium oxide. You will work with a team of graduate students. Activities will include deposition of oxide films using a tool in our lab, and extensive materials and electrical characterization of the deposited thin films.

 

MSE Project 14

Title:   Predictive calculations of defects in chalcogenides

Faculty Mentor:   Emmanouil Kioupakis (kioup@umich.edu)

Prerequisites:   Successful completion of MSE242 or equivalent by the start date.


Project Description:  The aim of this project is to investigate the thermodynamic properties of point defect in chalcogenide semiconductors for photovoltaic and thermoelectric applications.

 

MSE Project 15

Title:  Electronic and optical properties of two-dimensional materials.

Faculty Mentor:   Emmanouil Kioupakis (kioup@umich.edu)
Prerequisites:   Successful completion of MSE242 or equivalent by the start date.

Project Description:  The aim of this project is to study the electronic and optical properties of novel two-dimensional semiconductors.

 

MSE Project 16

Title:  Effects of alloy disorder on the band gap of II-IV-nitride semiconductors.
Faculty Mentor:   Emmanouil Kioupakis (kioup@umich.edu)
Prerequisites:   Successful completion of MSE242 or equivalent by the start date.

Project Description:  The goal of the project is to investigate the effects of local composition fluctuations in II-IV-nitride semiconductors on their band gap and optical properties.

 

MSE Project 17

Title:  Synthesis, characterization, and simulation of entropy-stabilized chalcogenides
Faculty Mentor:  Emmanouil Kioupakis (kioup@umich.eduand Ferdinand Poudeu (ppoudeup@umich.edu)
Prerequisites:  For the theory work: successful completion of MSE242 or equivalent by the start date.

Project Description:  This collaborative experimental and theoretical project aims to understand the synthesis and functional properties of entropy-stabilized chalcogenide semiconductors. Alloying in semiconductors is usually seen as a detrimental but necessary process to adjust their electronic and structural parameters while degrading their transport properties. Yet, entropy-stabilized materials exploit the large configurational entropy of mixing multiple elements to synthesize new materials that would otherwise be impossible due to phase segregation. Profs. Poudeu and Kioupakis have successfully applied the concept of entropy stabilization to synthesize the first semiconducting members of this class of materials. As part of this team project, you will be working in close collaboration with the
graduate and undergraduate students in the groups of Profs. Poudeu (for the experimental work) and Kioupakis (for the theory). You will be trained in a broad range of state-of-the-art tools of modern materials research such as solid-state synthesis, thermodynamic and structural characterization, functional property measurement, 
atomistic first-principles calculations, and/or machine-learning tools. Successful attendance of MSE242 (Physics of Materials) or an equivalent course by the start date is necessary to enroll in the theory work.

 

MSE Project 18

Title:  Development of a wet spinning apparatus  

Faculty Mentor:  Brian Love (bjlove@umich.edu

Prerequisites:  Some aspects of machine design knowledge, circuits, motors, integration, and computer control architecture  

Project Description:  We have been producing cellulose fibers derived from a variety of biomasses and would welcome a chance to automate the process of producing fibers in a more controlled way. This is a kind of build project based on paper designs already.  There is freedom to optimize the system, develop controls to track spinning speeds etc.  There is a need to integrate a series of rotating drums that are either immersed or collocated with a precipitation reservoir for the fibers that could be integrated with a gearing system to regulate the modest speeds.  There is plenty of opportunity to evaluate produced fibers in terms of strength, stiffness, and structure.  We think this would be ideal for a 2nd year student who had some preliminary design experience.

Please consider this list carefully before applying to the SURE program.