2021 Research Projects
Projects are posted below; new projects will continue to be posted. To learn more about the type of research conducted by undergraduates, view the 2020 Research Symposium Abstracts (PDF) and search the 2020 SURF Research Projects.
This is a list of research projects that may have opportunities for undergraduate students. Please note that it is not a complete list of every SURF project. Undergraduates will discover other projects when talking directly to Purdue faculty.
You can browse all the projects on the list or view only projects in the following categories:
All Research Projects
Catalytic Conversion of Methane to Chemicals and Fuels
Methane is the most abundant component of natural and shale gas. The ability to convert methane to chemicals and fuels using catalytic technologies would enable developing lower CO2-footprint energy sources to power our society. This project will involve catalyst design, research and development to selectively convert methane into alcohol and aromatic products. The student will learn how to synthesize, characterize and evaluate novel catalytic materials and conduct research at the interface of materials science and heterogeneous catalysis.
More information: https://sites.google.com/site/rgounder/
Design, construction and simulation of scaled test facility for gas cooled reactor cavity building blowdown
The main goal of the research is to develop a scaled experimental facility to study a High Temperature Gas-cooled Reactor (HTGR) building response in the event of a depressurization accident caused by a break in the primary coolant boundary and obtain first-of-a-kind data on the oxygen concentration distribution for validation of reactor safety codes and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) models. It is proposed to conduct experiments in a well-scaled test facility representing reference GA-MHGTR reactor building cavities and obtain oxygen concentration as function of time and space for range of reactor building vent locations, flow paths, and break sizes, locations and orientations. To support the experimental program, it is proposed to perform analysis of the reactor building response with a system level reactor safety code complimented by a CFD analysis for detailed localized predictions. The task under this project include study of the HTGR reactor components, where actual dimensions of the systems components are collected data, using scaling design scaled facility, and perform CFD analysis. Students interested on hands on experience in the laboratory, willing to build test facility, perform experiment, and analyze data are welcome. Great opportunity to develop thermalhydraulics laboratory skills.
Experimental Study of Heat Transfer in Nanomaterials
This project deals with study of heat transfer in very thin film materials using Raman Spectroscopy and Ultrafast laser systems. Heat transfer in nanoscale materials including 2D materials (very thin layered materials bonded by van der Waal’s force) shows superior characteristics for applications in numerous advanced devices. Their thermal transport behaviors are also different compared with bulk materials, and an understanding of the transport process is important for applications of these materials. We use non-contact, optical method (i.e., lasers etc.) to investigate heat flow in these materials. The undergraduate student will work with graduate students to learn to use state-of-the-art experimental facilities, carry out experiments, and analyze experimental results.
Mobile Air Quality Sensors and the Internet of Things
The project goal is to design and develop a hardware, software and cloud computing system for the acquisition of air quality data from mobile platforms such as taxis, backpacks, and drones. The sensors will be deployed around Purdue and eventually in the city of Arequipa, Peru. Data will be used to assess the spatial and temporal changes in air pollutions in Peru's 2nd largest city. The research is a collaboration between Purdue and the University of San Augustin (UNSA) as part of the NEXUS project.
More information: https://www.purdue.edu/discoverypark/arequipa-nexus/en/index.php
Nanoscale 3D printing
The ability to create 3D structures in the micro and nanoscale is important for many applications including electronics, microfluidics, and tissue engineering. This project deals with development and testing of a setup for building 3D structures using a femtosecond pulsed laser. A method known as two photon polymerization is typically used to fabricate such structures in which a polymer is exposed to a laser beam and at the point of the exposure the polymer changes its structure. Moving the laser in a predefined path helps in getting the desired shape, and the structures are then built in a layer by layer fashion. The setup incorporates all the steps from a designing a CAD model file to slicing the model in layers to generating the motion path of the laser needed for fabricating the structure. Like many other 3D printing processes, 3D printing at nanoscale is also slow. In order to make a 3D structure rapidly, many processes are currently being developed. Other efforts include the use of machine learning to produce high quality 3D parts and printing materials other than polymers to achieve specific mechanical, electrical or optical properties. The undergraduate student will work with graduate student to learn the state-of-the-art 3D nanoprinting systems, help to develop rapid printing processes, and analyze printing results.
Removal of Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) Pollutants from Automotive Exhaust
Nitrogen oxides (NOx) are major pollutants from automotive exhaust that need to be removed by catalyst and adsorbent materials to protect our environment and air quality. The ability to reduce NOx under widely varying operating conditions requires improvements to catalyst material properties and performance. This project will involve catalyst design, research and development to selectively adsorb and react NOx to benign products (N2, H2O). The student will learn how to synthesize, characterize and evaluate novel catalytic materials and conduct research at the interface of materials science and heterogeneous catalysis.
More information: https://sites.google.com/site/rgounder/
Thermal management of electronic devices
The continued miniaturization of electronic devices, with expanded functionality at reduced cost, challenges the viability of products across a broad spectrum of industry applications. The electronics industry is driven by global trends in storage, transmission, and processing of extreme quantities of digital information (cloud computing, data centers), increasing electrification of the transportation sector (electric vehicles, hybrid aircraft, batteries), and the proliferation of interconnected computing devices (mobile computing, IoT, 5G). Proper thermal management of electronic devices is critical to avoid overheating failures and ensure energy efficient operation. In view of these rapidly evolving markets, most of the known electronics cooling technologies are approaching their limits and have a direct impact on system performance (e.g., computing power, driving range, device size, etc.).
Research projects in the Cooling Technologies Research Center (CTRC) are exploring new technologies and discovering ways to more effectively apply existing technologies to addresses the needs of companies and organizations in the area of high-performance heat removal from compact spaces. One of the distinctive features of working in this Center is training in practical applications relevant to industry. All of the projects involve close industrial support and collaboration in the research, often with direct transfer of the technologies to the participating industry members. Projects in the Center involve both experimental and computational aspects, are multi-disciplinary in nature, and are open to excellent students with various engineering and science backgrounds. Multiple different research project opportunities are available based on student interests and preferences.
Virtual Reality animations of blood flow in a vessel network
The recently developed Paraview Immersive toolkit provides a simple way to produce virtual reality animations compatible with the Oculus Rift application using data from 3D simulations. This is a unique opportunity to better analyze the data by literally walking around inside them. In this project, the undergraduate students will produce a virtual reality animation using our 3D simulations of blood flow in capillaries.
More information: https://engineering.purdue.edu/gomez/