Undergraduate 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 8, 2017

·         Department/CoE deadline to update SURE Projects webpages: December 11, 2017

·         SURE Program application launches: December 15, 2017

·         January 15, 2018, 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, 2018, 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.

 

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. 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.

 

 

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:  Building Nano-architectures in 3D

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

Prerequisites: Introductory materials science course  (MSE 220 or 250, required) and other coursework MSE 330; MSE 360; MSE 335; MSE 365 (desired); and a strong enthusiasm for experimental science and/or engineering is required. Interest in graphic design is also helpful.

 

Description:  Metallic thin films designed with nano-scale features in three dimensions is important to a plethora of fields ranging from opto-electronics to aircraft components. Utilizing in-situ phase separation during physical vapor deposition (PVD), various interconnected morphologies with 3D architectures have been observed with interesting properties. Understanding how to control the design and architecture of these multi-component thin film structures remains an outstanding scientific question. Therefore, there is much opportunity for a SURE/SROP student to better understand the growth kinetics during deposition using an advanced and unique PVD chamber. The student will learn the PVD process, prepare and deposit samples, assist with the characterization of 3D nano-architectures, and analyze the results using graphical design. The student will be mentored by a current graduate student (Ben Derby) alongside the Principal Investigator (Prof. Misra) on all aspects of the proposed research.

 

 

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:  Synthesis and Magnetotransport Measurement of Single Crystal Tb2Ir2O7
Faculty Mentor:  Dr. John Heron
Prerequisites: A strong interest in experimental science and engineering. Intermediate materials science theory and laboratory classes. Knowledge of introductory quantum mechanics and programming for data analysis would be preffered.

Description:  Tb2Ir2O7 is an ordered antiferromagnetic oxide with strong spin orbit coupling physics. We are interested in synthesizing this crystal in thin film form. First, elemental oxide powders must be mixed together and mechanically pressed into a target. Then, the appropriate sintering scheme must be discovered, in order to create a dense cylindrical target that can be used for both PLD and sputtering. Once a dense target is created, XRD and XPS analysis will follow to see whether it is the stoichiometrically correct ordered crystal. The target would then be used to sputter deposit the thin film in isolation and in a heterostructure, followed by structural analysis via AFM and XRD. Patterned devices would follow and would be used in various ongoing magnetotransport studies.

 

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MACRO Project 1

Title:  Silsesquioxanes as Components in Hybrid Photovoltaics

Faculty:  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.

 

MACRO Project 2

Title:   3D Cell Cultures for Drug Discovery

Faculty:  Nicholas Kotov - kotov@umich.edu

Description:
Precise design of three-dimensional structures is essential for controlling nutrient diffusion, interstitial fluid and blood flow, and cell growth, function, and differentiation. This project will focus on the preparation of 3D cell culture scaffolds with accurately controlled 3D geometry and surface topography. This project will utilize the combination of two new scaffold engineering approaches tools: inverted colloidal crystal (ICC) geometry, and layer-by-layer surface modification. The topology of the scaffold will be closely packed spherical cavities arranged in a hexagonal crystal lattice. This ICC arrangement optimizes the effects of 3D architecture and nanoscale topography to provide a favorable environment for cell growth. Specifically, the highly ordered structure of ICC offers a uniform cellular environment for differentiation and growth, as well as one of the highest porosities and surface areas for cell growth attachment. Additionally, the pore diameter can be precisely controlled within from 100 nm to 500 microns, which opens unique possibilities for optimization of 3D cell environment.
Scaffolds will need to be constructed in well plates using the combination of self-assembly of colloidal crystals and microfabrication techniques.

MACRO Project 3

Title:   Ultrastrong Nanocomposites from Natural Renewable Fibers

Faculty:  Nicholas Kotov - kotov@umich.edu

Description:
It is well known that single wall nanoscale cellulose  is exceptionally strong as individual fibers. However, this strength is confined to very small dimensions of single strands. It is exceptionally challenging to create nanocomposites from them due to their intrinsic ability to aggregate and poor connectivity with the matrix. The project will be focused of making the composites from nanocellulose using layer-by-layer assembly and other techniques.  Design and construction of a new computer-controlled hardware robotic station to automatically deposit cellulose nanofibers as an ultrastrong composite is envisioned.  mechanical testing of the produced fibers will also be a part of the work.

MACRO Project 4

Title:   Preparation of Transparent Ultrastrong Materials for Military Applications

Faculty:  Nicholas Kotov - kotov@umich.edu

Description:
The major focus of this project is the preparation of transparent armor, which  is one of the central priorities for the US Army, Air Force and Navy.  We shall use different commercial off-the-shelf materials and nanocomposites developed in this laboratory to produce a new generation of transparent armors.

 

MACRO Project 5

Title:   Energy Applications of Nanomaterials

Faculty:  Nicholas Kotov - kotov@umich.edu

Description:

This project is focused on the preparation of new types of batteries from nanocomposites. Cathode, anode and ion-conductive separators are of interest for this study.  Preparation of these materials, their testing and design of the hardware for their production in a mass scale will be a subject of the work.