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Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering Pulse: News and Views

Summer 2017 NIST Scholars

Summer Research at the Nation’s Capital

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) formed in 1901 and is one of the nation’s oldest physical science laboratories. NIST was established to identify standards and measurements in physical science for the overall security of the American economy and way of life. Electric power grids, electronic health records, computer chips, and dozens of other innovations rely on the measurements and standards provided by NIST.

Boise State engineering students have participated in an excellent summer undergraduate research fellowship (NIST SURF) for the past four years in a row. The 11-week internship program provides students with hands-on research experience. This year, Sierra Ludwig, Addie Lupercio, Justina Freilich, Brady Garringer, Riccardo Torsi, Alondra Perez, and Shamith Payagala underwent a highly competitive application process to be granted the fantastic opportunity to conduct summer research at the NIST Gaithersburg facility, just outside Washington, D.C. They are studying a wide range of topics including the arrangement of water molecules, molecular dynamics, fingerprint tests, electronic measurements, and fiber-optic cables. SURF participants work closely with resident scientists and fellows. These student-mentor relationships enable undergraduates to get the best quality hands on experience and guidance in preparation for an innovative and exciting career.

What have our Students been up to at NIST?

We heard from some of the bright minds representing Boise State at NIST this summer. Here is what they had to say about their SURF experience:

  • “This summer was both challenging and incredibly fun. I gained new skills, made new friends, and had awesome experiences. I also got to work under amazing scientists and learn from them. I am so glad I got to be a part of this program and I would recommend it to anyone!”- Addie Lupercio.
  • “The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology has provided an opportunity for me to contribute to important areas of research with scientists who lead in their field. I have gained skills and experience in programming, characterization, data analysis, and technical writing and presenting. The SURF program has also fostered professional and personal relationships with students and scientists from disciplines across science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It has been a joy to work at such an innovative and important institute this summer, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed making friends from across the country and exploring the east coast.” – Justina Freilich
  • “This summer I worked with the Structures Group in the Engineering Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. My project was an exploratory project to investigate using distributed fiber optic networks for long-term structural health monitoring. We used fiber optic cables with etched Fiber Bragg Gratings embedded into concrete to detect temperature, relative humidity, and strain. In addition to my project I’ve been able to do a lot 3D modeling work and even some 3D printing!”- Sierra Ludwig

Get Involved with NIST SURF

Since 2013, eighteen Boise State students have participated in the NIST SURF program. Fifteen are Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering undergrads. Learn more about NIST. Applications are typically due in January of each year. Contact Dr. Lan Li if you’re interested in applying for the next summer program!

 

Graduate Student Twinkle Pandhi 2017 FLEX Conference Poster Awardee

Twinkle Pandhi Working in the Lab

Twinkle Pandhi, a graduate student in the Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering received a student travel award and a second-place poster award at the 2017 FLEX Conference, the nation’s leading forum for flexible, printed, and hybrid electronics technology. The conference hosted over 26 technical sessions and featured international presenters who share the common goal of creating faster, smarter, and more economical electronic devices for everyday use.

Printed and Flexible Electronics – The Future of Electronic Devices

Twinkle’s research focuses on understanding the physics behind power dissipation in aerosol jet printed graphene interconnects. Power dissipation relates current flow to voltage in electronic devices, which can lead to severe internal temperature increases. Power dissipation is a limiting factor in current silicon based computer processors. This is why laptops can heat up significantly, requiring innovative cooling technologies to prevent serious burns. New materials such as graphene have shown potential to improve the efficiency of electronic devices by reducing the temperature rise associated with power dissipation. “To our knowledge, Twinkle’s research represents the first study of power dissipation in printed graphene interconnects,” said Dr. Dave Estrada, Twinkle’s graduate advisor and co-director of the Boise State Advanced Nanomaterials and Manufacturing Laboratory. “Understanding the limiting factors in power dissipation of printed graphene may help expedite the adoption of this material in flexible and printed electronics applications, particularly if it can be printed in a roll-to-roll fashion.”

Collaborative Research Leads to New Innovations

Twinkle continues to conduct her award-winning research in collaboration with the PrintTronics Research Group at Air Force Research Laboratories led by Dr. Emily Heckman, NASA Scientist Dr. Jessica Koehne of the Center for Nanotechnology at NASA Ames Research Center, and Assistant Professor Feng Xiong’s group in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Pittsburgh. The team’s diverse expertise allows a comprehensive approach to research that encompasses materials synthesis and characterization, device fabrication and characterization, and multiphysics modeling. This method of collaborative research has led to new insights that demonstrate the effects of materials structure, properties, and processing on the performance of printed graphene devices. Printed graphene devices have dozens of potential uses such as touch screens in consumer electronics, wearable and stretchable biosensors for monitoring hydration and stress, and environmental monitoring systems for managing the condition of temperature sensitive inventory such as agricultural products and pharmaceuticals.

About Twinkle Pandhi

Twinkle received an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. In 2015, she enrolled in the Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering graduate program. Ms. Pandhi is a valued graduate research assistant in the Advanced Nanomaterials and Manufacturing Laboratory which is co-directed by Dr. David Estrada of the Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering and Dr. Harish Subbaraman of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. Twinkle continues her collaborative research on printing two-dimensional materials and devices over a summer internship at the Center for Nanotechnology at NASA Ames Research Center.

Twinkle has discovered that presenting research at technical conferences is an excellent method for building a professional network. “The Flex Conference was truly a valuable experience for me,” said Ms. Pandhi. “I was really amazed to see the cohesiveness between industries and universities in creating a resourceful environment for emerging flexible and printed technology.” Twinkle’s poster award and her drive to continue discovering new technologies confirm that she is on the right track. She has also presented her findings at the Materials Research Society’s 2017 Electronic Materials Conference and plans to present further research advances at upcoming conferences.

John-Paul Stroud – Bachelor of Science Alum 2017

JP Stroud 2017 Alum

John-Paul Stroud

Bachelor of Science Alum 2017

John-Paul Stroud is originally from Portland, Oregon but moved to Nampa, Idaho in 2004. He has been living in the Treasure Valley ever since. JP attended Renaissance High School in Meridian on the advice of a former teacher. He was hoping to take some interesting and compelling physics courses. Soon after enrolling, John-Paul realized that engineering and biology were the subjects that were most fascinating to him.

JP’s father, who has an interest in materials science, recognized JP’s potential in the engineering field. He began taking JP to research seminars to help develop further interest. With his father’s encouragement and by attending these seminars, JP learned more about materials science and engineering. He had found his field of interest. JP applied for admission to Boise State and is now enrolled in the materials science and engineering program. JP was happy to remain in Boise, a city he fully enjoys. Additionally, he was certain that the Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering (MSMSE) would offer excellent career advancement opportunities.

One of the highlights of the materials science and engineering program at Boise State is the opportunity for undergraduates to become immersed in the materials science world. Faculty make a point of working closely with students. Undergrads have a unique opportunity to work in a lab with a research group. These important experiences facilitate students’ advancement into the materials science industry.

Hands-On Research Opportunities Lead to Success

John-Paul had the fabulous opportunity to work in the Advanced Materials Laboratory while completing his Bachelor of Science. He participated in a variety of research projects, which allowed him to gain significant experience on topics ranging from corrosion to identifying unknown compounds created thousands of years ago.

One of JP’s research projects focused on corrosion and the development of corrosion-resistant sensors for navy and air force aircraft. He also worked on the synthesis of nitrites and nuclear fuel for the advanced fuel cycle initiative. This initiative is supported by the Department of Energy and allows researchers to focus on expanding clean, economical, and sustainable nuclear energy. He performed characterization work on zirconium alloys, which are used in nuclear reactors. They act as a barrier between nuclear fuel and coolant, keeping the entire system safe and secure. JP’s research focused on reducing oxidation in these alloys in order to maximize reactor performance. He hopes his research increases the tolerance for failure of these materials in case of nuclear accidents. In a separate project, JP conducted research to identify the materials used to create an unknown purple pigment found on an ancient mummy portrait.

Internships Make a Difference!

To further develop his expertise in materials science, John-Paul interned at the Idaho National Laboratory. He focused on the preparation of irradiated materials with the goal of improving their quality and safety.

JP helped develop a sample preparation method for a process called Electron Backscatter Diffraction (EBSD.) EBSD uses electron beams to detect texture, grain size, orientation, defects, and other information about crystallized structures in relation to irradiated fuel cladding in nuclear reactors. When a sample is irradiated, the entire process becomes hazardous and creates more waste that must be disposed of responsibly. A possible alternative is to use argon ions to polish the sample’s surface. This method may promote cleaner results from experiments. JP’s goal during this internship was to optimize the argon polishing process for nuclear reactor cladding samples. This process could mean safer conditions within reactors and may even extend the life of current nuclear reactors.

John-Paul continued his internship journey at Tescan, an electron microscope manufacturer, over the Summer 2017. This internship was a great opportunity to conduct research using state-of-the-art scanning electron microscopes (SEMs) and transmission electron microscopes (TEMs) at the Tescan Applications Lab in the Czech Republic.

What is JP Up to Now?

JP graduated from Boise State with a Bachelor of Science in Materials Science and Engineering in Spring 2017. His goal is to continue developing his expertise with an advanced degree. He was accepted to UC Davis in Fall 2017 to pursue his Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering. Congratulations, JP!

What Can YOU Accomplish in Materials Science and Engineering?

What can YOU do to accomplish great things in materials science and engineering? JP recommends that students get to know faculty and classmates. “One of the great benefits of the Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering is that the program is relatively small,” says JP. “It allows undergraduates hands-on  research opportunities that may not be available at other schools. Reach out to faculty who are conducting research on campus as soon as you can and you’ll be able to gain a lot of experience.”

Alumni – Where You At?! Let Us Know so We can Feature You Here

We are seeking contact with all MSMSE alumni! Complete this quick questionnaire and we will email you a draft write-up for your review and approval before posting. Send photos to Dena Ross, MSMSE program and marketing manager denaross@boisestate.edu. Stay in touch and let us know where you are now.

Eric Jankowski: National Science Foundation CAREER Award

MSMSE Undergrad Materials Lab, Eric Jankowski's Lab

Can you imagine printing a sheet of plastic that covers its own cost by converting sunlight into electricity within a few days? It’s entirely possible if printing technologies can fabricate high-efficiency organic photovoltaics (OPVs). Dr. Jankowski, assistant professor in the Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering leads the Computational Materials Engineering Laboratory (CMELab) at Boise State. The group researches new materials that create sustainable energy sources. Particularly, they research methods for arranging molecules to give carbon-based advanced materials desired properties. Dr. Jankowski received a prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER grant for his research into methods that create greener environments.

An NSF CAREER Grant Supports Green Research

The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program offers the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious awards in support of faculty members who integrate effective research and teaching. Dr. Jankowski’s CAREER award is supporting his research on transforming methods by which organic photovoltaic solar cells are made. The building-block materials used to develop OPVs are abundant and could enhance production of inexpensive solar panels. OPVs can be applied to curved or flexible surfaces that are hard to accommodate with silicon-based solar technologies. This would enable easier solar panel integration into fabrics or even vehicles. Ultimately, OPVs could provide an economical electricity alternative at a lower cost than current solar technologies.

“I’m enormously grateful for NSF’s support through the CAREER award and humbled to be included among its recipients,” Dr. Jankowski said. “This award will provide sustained graduate student support so we can take our preliminary plastic solar material studies to the next level. I’m so excited for the science this is going to make possible.”

Discovering Pathways to Efficient Alternative Power Sources

Dr. Jankowski’s research will focus on improving the simulation techniques for predicting OPV nano-structures. Improving simulation techniques will allow researchers to uncover the nano-structures of ingredient mixtures needed to create OPVs. Dr. Jankowski and his team can then learn more about the fabrication process and discover pathways to increasingly efficient power sources. He and his students plan to collaborate with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to make and test the plastic solar cells predicted by their research. According to Jankowski,”No other single advance will as broadly improve the health, security, and opportunity for global citizens as these inexpensive, accessible power sources. These power sources will fuel alternative energy development while mitigating climate change.” Students involved in this project will use computational materials science to solve challenges related to low-cost energy alternatives, giving them a leading edge in obtaining high-tech jobs.

Joe Croteau – Master of Science Alum 2016

Joe Croteau in the DesertJoe Croteau

 Master of Science Alum 2016

Joe was born and raised in Juneau, AK, where environmental stewardship and conservation are a daily part of life. During his final year of high school, he participated in an experimental curriculum called the Architecture, Construction, and Engineering (ACE) Academy. Through ACE, Joe helped to establish several internship programs with local, private and governmental engineering firms. It was his interest in green energy technology and his passion for cars and motorcycles that led him to pursue an education in automotive design. He enrolled at the Vehicle Design Institute, which is a part of the Plastics Engineering Department at Western Washington University. Joe learned about the Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering at Boise State partly because of its extraordinary value. He saw the potential to have greater access to world-class professors at a much more affordable cost. Boise State’s beautiful campus also has the feel of a small town community with big city amenities aJoe Croteau at Graduationnd immediate access to nature. For these reasons, Joe transferred to Boise State to complete his bachelor of science. He was encouraged to continue his studies and he graduated in 2016 with a master of science.

The Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering provided Joe the opportunity to pursue his interest in lightweight structural materials and materials for low-carbon energy production. He was able to collaborate with researchers throughout the region and all across the United States while conducting research in the Advanced Materials Group with Dr. Darryl Butt and Dr. Brian Jaques. These excellent hands-on experiences prepared Joe for a great career

What is Joe Up to Now?

After graduating in 2016, Joe was offered a position as a materials engineer at NanoAI, LLC, a Chicago-area technology company that designs and develops high-performance aluminum alloys. He is currently leading research to design and develop aluminum alloy compositions specifically tailored for additive manufacturing (3D-Printing.) Joe is involved in every stage of the process from basic scientific research to product development and marketing. The Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering prepared Joe for this excellent career opportunity by offering experience on a broad range of state of the art equipment for materials processing. Computational materials science is embedded in the curriculum, which allowed Joe to gain well-rounded experience in materials modeling and theory. A significant added value was having relevant and collaborative research projects with other universities, national labs, government agencies, and industry partners. The opportunity to interact with local business and community leaders, and to work with members of the global scientific community allowed Joe to broaden his network. Boise State also offers complimentary courses in business, policy, and education that provided Joe a well-rounded approach to solving research challenges.

How can YOU Succeed in the Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering?

Any prospective student should check out what the Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering has to offer. Joe says the Program is like a tightly-knit family. “Whatever you’re passionate about, academically or otherwise, you will find someone in the department who shares that passion,” said Joe. He added that, “whatever it is that makes you unique, the program is supportive and collaborative. It is clear to me that Boise State and the Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering encourage diversity. They understand that diversity is necessary for a holistic approach to education and is essential to finding scientific and engineering solutions for the issues that effect Idaho and society as a whole.”

Alumni – Where You At?! Let Us Know so We can Feature You Here

We are seeking contact with all MSMSE alumni! Complete this quick questionnaire and we will email you a draft write-up for your review and approval before posting. Send photos to Dena Ross, MSMSE program and marketing manager denaross@boisestate.edu. Stay in touch and let us know where you are now.