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 2021 Research Symposium Abstracts (PDF) and search the past SURF 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:


Composite Materials and Alloys (7)

 

3D Forming of Advanced Composites for Automotive and Sports Applications 

Professor:
Jan-Anders Mansson
Preferred major(s):
Materials Science, Aerospace, Mechanical Engineering
Desired experience:
Enthusiasm for hands-on manufacturing and an interest in materials research. Prior experience with thermoplastic composites is preferred, but not required

The Manufacturing Design Laboratory (MDLab) at Purdue University is driven by today’s fast growing demands for cost-effectiveness and more sustainable solutions in the aerospace, automotive, and sports industries. Our research focuses on integrating next-generation composite manufacturing approaches with a full-scale Industry 4.0 Digital Manufacturing Testbed. As the utilization of advanced composites expands from the aerospace industry to high volume applications such as automotive and sports industries, increased complex forming, and cost-effective manufacturing has been increasingly demanded. The MDLab has integrated advanced robotics to automate the fiber preforming process which has led to a significant reduction of cycle times for complex shaped structures.
One of the equipment in the lab is the FREESTYLETM machine which is used to form M-TOW® (overbraided composite tow) into any desired shape and is synonymous to metal roll forming methods. The method is a free-forming method, no mold required, and raises the issues of dimensional and forming accuracy, which highlights our research focus in this area.
The student’s project will focus on mastering the forming of thermoplastic composites into 3D shapes. The student should have a desire to work with novel manufacturing equipment which may require modifying equipment for better performance. The results from this research will contribute to a deeper understanding of the dimensional stability of thermoplastic composites and will serve as a preform for over-molded components to be used in the automotive industry.

 

4D Materials Science - X-ray Microtomography, Image Analysis, and Machine Learning 

Professor:
Nik Chawla
Preferred major(s):
Materials science and engineering, mechanical engineering, and/or computer engineering
Desired experience:
Microstructural Characterization Computer programming/coding Image analysis Junior or Seniors are particularly encouraged to apply.

The student will be working on state-of-the-art characterization techniques, such as x-ray microtomography and correlative microscopy of high performance materials. The project will involve image analysis and machine learning algorithms for efficiently and accurately analyzing the x-ray tomography datasets.

More information: https://engineering.purdue.edu/MSE/people/ptProfile?resource_id=239946

 

Additive Manufacturing of Lightweight Metallic Alloys 

Professor:
Nik Chawla
Preferred major(s):
Materials science and engineering, mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering
Desired experience:
Independent, driven, and hard-working. Experience with sample preparation and optical microscopy would be a plus.

The student will work on microstructural characterization and mechanical properties of new aluminum-based additive manufactured alloys. Corrosion testing and analysis are also part of the existing project.

 

Adhesives at the Beach 

Professor:
Jonathan Wilker
Preferred major(s):
Chemistry or Materials Engineering or Biomedical Engineering or Chemical Engineering
Desired experience:
Students in our lab are not required to arrive with any particular expertise. Marine biology (e.g., working with live mussels), materials engineering (e.g., measuring mechanical properties of adhesives), and chemistry (e.g., making new polymers) are all involved in this work. Few people at any level will come in with knowledge about all aspects here. Consequently we are looking for adventurous students who are wanting to roll up their sleeves, get wet (literally), and learn several new things.

The oceans are home to a diverse collection of animals producing intriguing materials. Mussels, barnacles, oysters, starfish, and kelp are examples of the organisms generating adhesive matrices for affixing themselves to the sea floor. Our laboratory is characterizing these biological materials, designing synthetic polymer mimics, and developing applications. Characterization efforts include experiments with live animals, extracted proteins, and peptide models. Synthetic mimics of these bioadhesives begin with the chemistry learned from characterization studies and incorporate the findings into bulk polymers. For example, we are mimicking the cross-linking of DOPA-containing adhesive proteins by placing monomers with pendant catechols into various polymer backbones. Adhesion strengths of these new polymers can rival that of the cyanoacrylate “super glues.” Underwater bonding is also appreciable. Future efforts are planned in two different areas: A) Using biobased and biomimetic adhesives as the basis for making new plastic materials. This project will be more in the realm of materials engineering. B) Developing gel-based adhesives for wound closure. Work here will involve some aspects of biomedical engineering.

More information: http://www.chem.purdue.edu/wilker/

 

Design, fabrication, and testing of an environmental chamber for X-ray characterization 

Professor:
Michael Sangid
Preferred major(s):
AAE or ME
Desired experience:
Experience inCAD tools, structural and thermal finite element analysis. Background in Matlab or Python coding.

High energy X-rays produced by synchrotron sources can be used to characterize the 3D microstructure and evolution of the lattice strains (and thereby stresses) in each grain during thermo-mechanical loading. For this project, we would use high energy X-rays to characterize the evolution of a fatigue crack in a corrosive environment. This project would entail the design, fabrication, and testing of an environmental chamber. The chamber would enclose the specimen in a corrosive environment, and at the same time, applying loading to the specimen. The design would need to limit the impedance of the incoming/outgoing X-ray sources during characterization.

More information: https://engineering.purdue.edu/~msangid/

 

High Performance Concrete from Recycled Hydrogel-Based Superabsorbent Materials 

Professor:
Kendra Erk
Preferred major(s):
Any
Desired experience:
Enthusiasm for chemistry and an interest in materials research. Prior experiences with cement and concrete would be a benefit to the project but are not required.

Concrete that is internally cured by water-swollen superabsorbent polymer (SAP) particles has improved strength and durability. Widespread adoption of SAP-cured concrete is hindered by the lack of commercial SAP formulations that maintain their absorbency in cement’s high-pH environment. Most commercial SAP formulations are designed for disposable diapers and other absorbent hygiene products (AHPs), which account for ~12% (3.4M tons) of all non-durable goods in landfills. Over 70% of a diaper’s weight is composed of absorbent materials – mainly cellulose and polyacrylamide(PAM)-based SAP particles – the latter being chemically equivalent to the SAP particles that perform well in concrete research. Thus, a sustainable strategy to create effective concrete curing agents is to recycle the absorbent materials from AHPs and reprocess for use in concrete. AHP recycling efforts are already underway, including a plant in Italy with a 10,000-tonne annual capacity for AHP recycling. However, synthetic strategies must be developed to convert recycled AHPs into absorbent particles that perform well in concrete. Hypothesis and Objectives: We hypothesize that the PAM and cellulose components of AHPs can be separated and chemically crosslinked to form particles that display high absorption capacity in alkaline environments. The SURF student will: (1) obtain recycled absorbent materials and characterize the structures of the materials including composition, particle morphology, and swelling behavior; (2) design and synthesize absorbent particles by combining different ratios of recycled absorbent materials with a crosslinking agent and grinding/sieving to create particles with dry sizes of 10-100 micron; (3) identify the dosages of absorbent particles required to create internally cured concrete with good workability and mechanical strength; and (4) perform cost-benefit analysis of concrete cured by recycled particles and commercial SAP.

More information: https://soft-material-mechanics.squarespace.com/home/

 

UAM Enabled Smart Metallic Structures 

Professor:
James Gibert
Preferred major(s):
Mechanical Engineering
Desired experience:
Matlab, Data Acquisition, Machining

Ultrasonic Additive Manufacturing (UAM) machine consists of an ultrasonic horn, also known as the sonotrode, transducers, a heater, and a movable base. The process begins with the placement of a thin metal foil, on a sacrificial base plate bolted on a heated anvil. The foil is compressed under pressure by the rolling sonotrode, which is also excited by the piezoelectric transducers at a constant frequency with amplitudes ranging on the order of microns in a direction transversal to the rolling motion. Once the first layer is bonded, additional layers are added and can be machined as needed until the desired geometry and dimensions of a feature are realized.
The ADAMs lab is currently exploring techniques to create multi-functional material systems utilizing UAM. Candidate projects include embedded piezoelectric actuator for sensing applications and shape memory alloy sheets to create localized structural changes in a metal skin. Other potential projects are the creation of metal structures beam with magno-elastic properties. One embodiment is the creation of composite aluminum beams elastomer core filled with magnetic materials. Different configurations of magnetic materials will be explored to create structures that buckle or stiffen in the presence of magnetic fields.