2022 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 (19)

 

3D-Printing of concrete: Design of extrusion components and 3D-printing of large-scale structural elements 

Professor:
Jan Olek
Preferred major(s):
  • No Major Restriction

Objective: To assist in the design of components for 3D extrusion systems and in 3D-printing of structural concrete elements.

Motivation: 3D-printing of concrete represents an alternative for the construction of infrastructure at different scales using automated techniques to reduce the manufacturing costs, reduce waste and allow for formwork-free construction. One of the current research project performed at Lyles School of Civil Engineering by the Purdue Concrete 3D-Printing team (in collaboration with an industrial partner) is exploring the viability of 3D-printing structures designed for marine environments that will contribute to the generation of renewable energy. This state-of-the-art project looks to manufacture components that can withstand the extreme conditions associated with marine environments. Still, the 3D-printing process is a complex system that requires a careful integration of equipment, materials, and processes to produce high-quality structures. Therefore, the exploration and implementation of alternatives for parts and components that facilitate the control of material extrusion as well as the characteristics of the material during this process is required.

Activities and responsibilities of the student:

· To become intimately familiar with various components of a 3D-printing system and the printing process of cementitious materials.

· To design parts, components and mechanisms required for the control of the geometry of 3D-printed filaments.

· To produce technical drawings and manufacturing recommendations for the parts needed.

· To assist with the 3D-printing activities during fabrication of large-scale structural elements

· To present the results of the work performed during SURF program to the research group during the weekly project meetings.

· To prepare a report summarizing the design and printing activities performed during the SURF program.

· To disseminate the results of the research experience as required by the SURF program.

 

A Rheometry Investigation of Microstructure-Property-Processing Relationships in Concentrated Surfactant Solutions 

Professor:
Kendra Erk
Preferred major(s):
  • No Major Restriction
Desired experience:
Enthusiasm for chemistry and an interest in materials research. Past experiences with surfactants and/or rheometry is awesome but not required.

Aqueous surfactant solutions are widely used to formulate detergent-based products for cleaning, laundry, and other personal care activities (e.g., shampoo, body wash). The goal of this SURF project is to determine how the microstructure and properties of surfactant-based solutions are affected by the removal of water and the addition of processing aids. The project's hypothesis is that certain chemical additives, including salt and perfumes, will change how the surfactants self-assemble in water which will in turn lead to changes in the surfactant solution's viscosity and flow behavior (its "rheology"). Through this project, the SURF student will: (1) learn about conventional commercial surfactants like sodium laureth sulfate as well as environmentally friendly biosurfactants like rhamnolipids; (2) perform rheometry measurements on solutions with different amounts of water and additives and analyze the resulting data with mathematical models; and (3) observe how the application of shear forces will change the self-assembled surfactant structures by a combination of light microscopy and X-ray scattering. The main outcome of this project will be a better understanding of the surfactant solution’s microstructure-property-processing relationships which will enable companies to more efficiently manufacture concentrated solutions to achieve desired properties and performance while also meeting sustainability goals such as reducing water from commercial products.

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

 

AAMP UP- Adhesion of Printed Energetic Materials  

Professor:
Stephen Beaudoin
Preferred major(s):
  • No Major Restriction
Desired experience:
Must be a U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident of the United States. Must have completed at least one academic semester of full-time study at associate's or bachelor's degree level from an accredited college or university.

This project is part of the AAMP-UP '22 program, which focuses on energetic material research.
AAMP-UP is separate but highly partnered with SURF.

The project is run by Dr. Stephen Beaudoin and his team. Additively manufactured energetic materials do not adhere to themselves and casings with sufficient strength to survive gun launch. This project is focused on assessing the properties of the energetic composites that dictate how strongly the composites adhere to themselves and to their casings. The measurements will be made by cutting the composites and measuring the force required to initiate and propagate a crack, and also by using atomic force microscopy to measure directly the adhesion between energetic particles and binders and casings.

More information: https://engineering.purdue.edu/ChE/people/ptProfile?resource_id=11574

 

AAMP UP- Conducting Polymer Energetic Binders  

Professor:
Bryan Boudouris
Preferred major(s):
  • No Major Restriction
Desired experience:
Must be a U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident of the United States. Must have completed at least one academic semester of full-time study at associate's or bachelor's degree level from an accredited college or university.

This project is part of the AAMP-UP '22 program, which focuses on energetic material research.
AAMP-UP is separate but highly partnered with SURF.

The project is run by Dr. Bryan Boudouris and his team. The overarching objective of this project is to create polymeric binders that have robust electrical and mechanical properties. This will be achieved by modifying commercially-available materials as well as synthesizing next-generation conducting polymers. By developing the appropriate structure-property-processing relationships, we will develop, and eventually deploy, binders with electronically-triggerable properties. Specifically, the student associated with this project will focus on the design and mechanical testing of polymers and polymer-based binders for energetic materials applications.

There are no specific prerequisites in coursework or associated knowledge for this project. However, a chemistry or chemical engineering major would be the most relevant degree plan.

More information: https://engineering.purdue.edu/ChE/people/ptProfile?resource_id=71151

 

AAMP UP- Explosives Fabrication and Experiments 

Professor:
Steven Son
Preferred major(s):
  • No Major Restriction
Desired experience:
Must be a U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident of the United States. Must have completed at least one academic semester of full-time study at associate's or bachelor's degree level from an accredited college or university.

This project is part of the AAMP-UP '22 program, which focuses on energetic material research.
AAMP-UP is separate but highly partnered with SURF.

The project is run by Dr. Steven Son and his team. The research topic seeks to explore the high-rate mechanics of energetic materials under impact or shock or detonation. It will involve advanced sample preparation, including microscale machining of energetic materials, as well as high rate experiments. The student would work closely with Research Scientists and graduate students to design experiments, perform experiments, analyze data, and report/share these results.

More information: https://engineering.purdue.edu/ME/People/ptProfile?resource_id=29385

 

AAMP UP- Extrusion Studies to Understand 3D Printing Parameters 

Professor:
Steve Son
Preferred major(s):
  • No Major Restriction
Desired experience:
Must be a U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident of the United States. Must have completed at least one academic semester of full-time study at associate's or bachelor's degree level from an accredited college or university.

This project is part of the AAMP-UP '22 program, which focuses on energetic material research.
AAMP-UP is separate but highly partnered with SURF.

The project is run by Dr. Steve Son and his team. The objective of this project would be to determine the similarity of mass flow rate for a variety of inert materials and ammonium perchlorate (AP) for multi-modal size distributions. The undergraduate student would gain experience researching relevant literature, mixing samples, designing experiments, and analyzing the data for the mock materials as well as assisting with the same tests using energetic materials.

More information: https://engineering.purdue.edu/ME/People/ptProfile?resource_id=29385

 

AAMP UP- Multifunctional Energetic Materials 

Professor:
Steven Son
Preferred major(s):
  • No Major Restriction
Desired experience:
Must be a U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident of the United States. Must have completed at least one academic semester of full-time study at associate's or bachelor's degree level from an accredited college or university.

This project is part of the AAMP-UP '22 program, which focuses on energetic material research.
AAMP-UP is separate but highly partnered with SURF.

The project is run by Dr. Steve Son and his team. Piezoelectric energetic materials (piezoenergetics or PEMs) offer the potential for a new generation of smart propellants and pyrotechnics with multifunctional capabilities that can be actively controlled via external stimuli. However, the fundamental physics and chemistry governing energy transfer, energy repartitioning, and chemical reactions/kinetics resulting from external stimulation of PEMs are not well understood. It is envisioned that, by coupling piezoelectric behavior and nanoenergetics, truly smart and switchable materials can result. Specifically, we envision reactive piezoelectric materials with multifunctional properties with reactivity and microstructure that can be controlled and altered by external stimuli including stress, temperature, or electromagnetic fields; while enabling integrated in situ sensing. The REU student would be mentored by two graduate students and would design experiments, perform those experiments, collect data and present/share those results.

More information: https://engineering.purdue.edu/ME/People/ptProfile?resource_id=29385

 

AAMP UP- Novel Fuels in Energetic Materials 

Professor:
Steven Son
Preferred major(s):
  • No Major Restriction
Desired experience:
Must be a U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident of the United States. Must have completed at least one academic semester of full-time study at associate's or bachelor's degree level from an accredited college or university.

This project is part of the AAMP-UP '22 program, which focuses on energetic material research.
AAMP-UP is separate but highly partnered with SURF.

The project is run by Dr. Steven Son and his team. High density fuels, typically metals, are commonly added to propellants and explosives to improve their performance, as well as other factors such as sensitivity and toxicity. Other novel fuels could include solvated electrons (dissolved metals in ammonia, for example). This research topic explores the development, small-scale manufacturing, and characterization of high-density fuels in energetic materials. Particular emphasis is placed on emergent material systems, such as aluminum-lithium alloys, oxide-free coated nano-aluminum, and mechanically activated (MA) fuels. The REU student would work closely with Research Scientists and graduate students to design experiments, perform experiments, analyze data, and report/share these results.

More information: https://engineering.purdue.edu/ME/People/ptProfile?resource_id=29385

 

AAMP UP- Reactive Wires to Tailor Propellant Burning Rate 

Professor:
Steven Son
Preferred major(s):
  • No Major Restriction
Desired experience:
Must be a U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident of the United States. Must have completed at least one academic semester of full-time study at associate's or bachelor's degree level from an accredited college or university.

This project is part of the AAMP-UP '22 program, which focuses on energetic material research.
AAMP-UP is separate but highly partnered with SURF.

The project is run by Dr. Steven Son and his team. Of the many techniques that have been employed to increase burning rates, embedding thermally-conductive and/or reactive wires appears to be the approach to do so without increasing sensitivity. We are utilizing our additive manufacturing capabilities, including vibration assisted printing (VAP), to produce both the wires and the propellant. These “wires” may not actually be metals, but include thermally conductive materials such as graphene. The objective of this project is to use both fused deposition modeling (FDM) and direct writing 3D printing techniques to tailor the surface area of propellants dynamically using conductive and reactive wire deposition. The REU student would work closely with Research Scientists and graduate students to design experiments, perform experiments, analyze data, and report/share these results.

More information: https://engineering.purdue.edu/ME/People/ptProfile?resource_id=29385

 

AAMP UP- Sample Heating using Infrared Laser and Optics 

Professor:
Wayne Chen
Preferred major(s):
  • No Major Restriction
Desired experience:
Must be a U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident of the United States. Must have completed at least one academic semester of full-time study at associate's or bachelor's degree level from an accredited college or university.

This project is part of the AAMP-UP '22 program, which focuses on energetic material research.
AAMP-UP is separate but highly partnered with SURF.

The project is run by Dr. Wayne Chen and his team. Mechanical properties are important metrics that provide insight for different engineering applications ranging from chemical bonding type on an atomic scale to macroscale design applications. However, research shows that mechanical properties can change as a function of strain rate (impact velocity) and temperature. Therefore, it is necessary to test materials and gather properties while replicating the environment they will endure in application to best inform researchers and engineers in the material design process. A Kolsky bar apparatus is used to perform mechanical testing on materials at high strain rates. This experimental technique has been used for the last ~50 years and has resulted in many materials characterization papers. Missing from the literature is temperature dependence of mechanical properties at high strain rates. We would like a student interested in lasers and optics to design and build an infrared laser device that will evenly heat a polymer composite sample to a specified temperature. The device must attach to the Kolsky bar apparatus and be both safe and efficient. This will allow for coupled temperature and strain rate mechanical experiments and extrapolation of the temperature effects of different materials.

An understanding of laser and optics would be beneficial but is not required.

More information: https://engineering.purdue.edu/AAE/people/ptProfile?resource_id=1261

 

AAMP UP- Synthesis of New Materials 

Professor:
Davin Piercey
Preferred major(s):
  • No Major Restriction
Desired experience:
Organic Chemistry classes & labs. Must be a U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident of the United States. Must have completed at least one academic semester of full-time study at associate's or bachelor's degree level from an accredited college or university.

This project is part of the AAMP-UP '22 program, which focuses on energetic material research.
AAMP-UP is separate but highly partnered with SURF.

The project is run by Dr. Davin Piercey and his team. It is centered around chemical synthesis of new materials for use in propellants, explosives, and pyrotechnics.

Completion of both Organic Chemistry classes and labs is a requirement for the students who fill this position. There is not a specific major requirement, but Chemistry and Chemical Engineering degree plans would be the most relevant.

More information: https://engineering.purdue.edu/MSE/people/ptProfile?resource_id=184725

 

AAMP UP- Ultrasonically Additive Manufactured Multifunctional Material Systems for SHM 

Professor:
James Gibert
Preferred major(s):
  • No Major Restriction
Desired experience:
MATLAB, Data Acquisition, some machining knowledge. Must be a U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident of the United States. Must have completed at least one academic semester of full-time study at associate's or bachelor's degree level from an accredited college or university.

This project is part of the AAMP-UP '22 program, which focuses on energetic material research.
AAMP-UP is separate but highly partnered with SURF.

The project is run by Dr. James Gibert and his team. 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.

Preferably, students would have MATLAB, Data Acquisition, and some machining knowledge.

More information: https://engineering.purdue.edu/ME/People/ptProfile?resource_id=127242

 

AAMP-UP: Additive Manufacturing 

Professor:
Jeff Rhoads
Preferred major(s):
  • No Major Restriction
Desired experience:
U.S. Citizenship Required Must have completed 1 semester of undergraduate courses

This research project seeks to additively manufacture (3D print) highly viscous materials using a novel 3D-printing method: Vibration Assisted Printing (VAP). This technique uses high frequency vibrations concentrated at the tip of the printing nozzle to enable flow of viscous materials at low pressures and temperatures. VAP has the potential to create next-generation munitions with more precision, customizability, and safety than traditional additive manufacturing methods. The objective of this project is to design formulations which are capable of being vibration-assisted printed, maintain energetic performance, and retain desirable mechanical properties after printing. The REU student would be mentored by graduate students and work within a team to design experiments, perform experiments, analyze data, and disseminate the results. The REU student will have the opportunity to present the findings in regular meetings, poster sessions, formal presentations, and papers.

More information: https://engineering.purdue.edu/ME/People/ptProfile?resource_id=34218

 

Additive manufacturing to enable hypersonic flight 

Professor:
Michael Sangid
Preferred major(s):
  • Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Materials Engineering
Desired experience:
Background includes: 1.) Required background in (a) CAD software and (b) either Python (preferred) or Matlab programming familiarity. 2.) Preferred background in finite element analysis. 3.) Due to work with controlled information, US Citizenship or Legal US Permanent Resident status is required.

The overall project will develop and mature high temperature materials, new additive manufacturing processes, and joining technologies to provide structural solutions to hypersonics components and sub-systems. While the overall projects will be interdisciplinary in nature, students are invited to work on specific aspects of this project, including (i) materials modeling of metals, ceramics, and composites, in order to support a digital twin of the aircraft, (ii) the digital flow of information through the product lifecycle, and (iii) the design and development of high temperature, controlled environmental testing facilities.

More information: https://engineering.purdue.edu/hypersonics

 

Adhesives at the Beach 

Professor:
Jonathan Wilker
Preferred major(s):
  • No Major Restriction
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. 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, such as systems like carbon fiber reinforced polymers, but with all components sourced sustainably. B) Developing new adhesive systems that function completely underwater.

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

 

Admixture Compatibility of Eleven Nontraditional and Natural Pozzolans in Cementitious Composites 

Professor:
Jan Olek
Preferred major(s):
  • No Major Restriction

Objective: To assist in evaluating admixture compatibility of eleven nontraditional and natural pozzolans in cementitious composites.

Motivation: It is expected that in the near future, the demand for traditional supplementary cementitious materials (SCMs) will surpass its supply. These traditional SCMs can increase sustainability in addition to ensuring high performance and durability in cementitious composites. Finding alternative SCMs that can fulfill the supply gap while also adequately performing in cementitious composites is therefore critical. One of the current research projects performed at Lyles School of Civil Engineering by Purdue University (in collaboration with Penn State and Clarkson University) is exploring the effect of eleven nontraditional and natural pozzolans (NNPs) on cementitious systems. Currently, there is limited knowledge of whether these NNPs are capable of satisfactory performance in cementitious composites. More specifically, the response of these NNPs to commercially available chemical admixtures such as superplasticizers (SP) and air-entraining agents (AEA) is not well known. The usage of SP and AEA admixtures is fairly common as they decrease the water demand and increase durability respectively. Therefore, the exploration of the potential issues of incompatibilities between admixtures and NNPs is required.

Activities and responsibilities of the student:

· To become familiar with cementitious composites and different experiments that will be performed.

· To perform a literature review on the effect of admixtures in cementitious composites and present the findings.

· To evaluate rheological properties at room and elevated temperatures, set time of pastes, strength gain of mortar, and foam index test.

· To assist with different measurements of experiments.

· To present the results of the work performed during SURF program to the research group during the weekly project meetings.

· To prepare a report summarizing the admixture compatibilities of the eleven NNPs performed during the SURF program.

· To disseminate the results of the research experience as required by the SURF program.

 

Identifying and reducing health and environmental impacts of plastic used to repair buried pipes 

Professor:
Andrew Whelton
Preferred major(s):
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Environmental and Ecological Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Public Health
  • Chemistry
  • Environmental Health Sciences
Desired experience:
Strong interest in learning and applying scientific methods and techniques to help solve a pressing day problem; Basic understand of chemistry; General lab experience desirable as the student will help manufacture plastics in the lab using chemical formulations

Drinking water and sewer pipes are decaying across the nation, and inexpensive methods for repairing these assets are being increasingly embraced. One method called cured-in-place-pipe (CIPP) involves workers chemically manufacturing a new plastic pipe inside an existing damaged pipe. This is the least expensive pipe repair method and, as such, is preferred by utilities and municipalities. The practice is often conducted outdoors and industry ‘best’ practice involves discharging the plastic manufacturing waste into the environment and nearby pipelines. Under some conditions, this waste finds its way into public areas and buildings prompted illnesses and environmental damage. Another consequence can be direct leaching of unreacted chemicals into water or volatilization of chemicals from the new plastic into air.

This project will involve the student working with a graduate student as well as leading experts on plastics manufacturing, chemistry, public health, civil/environmental engineering, and communications. The student will learn plastic manufacturing methods, environmental sampling and analysis methods, and participate in the process of reducing human health and environmental risks of the practice. To complete this work, the student will learn and apply infrastructure, environmental, and public health principles.

More information: More information about the project: https://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=2129166&HistoricalAwards=false; More information about the topic: www.CIPPSafety.org

 

Linking Flow Behavior to 3D-Printability in Highly Loaded Polymer-Ceramic Suspensions 

Professor:
Kendra Erk
Preferred major(s):
  • No Major Restriction
Desired experience:
General lab experience and an interest in materials research. Some prior knowledge of polymer science and/or non-Newtonian fluid mechanics would be beneficial but is not required.

Aqueous suspensions of ceramic particles are used in electronics manufacturing to improve heat transfer between components. Polymers are often added to ceramic suspensions to improve the flow behavior at high particle loadings (> 50 vol%). Through 3D-printing, custom and precise structures can be rapidly fabricated; however, one challenge encountered when 3D-printing these suspensions is deposition of excess material when the nozzle is lifted and moved to a new location (also called “tailing”), which results in material wastage and sample defects. The goal of this SURF project is to design ceramic suspensions that exhibit reduced tailing. Parameters including component volume fractions, particle size and roughness, and polymer molecular weight can all affect the flow behavior and in turn, the printability of these materials. In this project, the SURF student will: (1) prepare aqueous polymer-ceramic suspensions of varying composition; (2) characterize their flow behavior using rheometry; (3) conduct extrusion 3D-printing tests and qualitatively evaluate printability; (4) devise a method to quantify the tailing behavior, and (5) draw conclusions between the rheometry and 3D-printing data. By developing a better understanding of the relationships between suspension composition, flow behavior, and printability, this work will enable the design of 3D-printable composite materials for a variety of applications, such as flexible electronics, aircraft parts, or medical implants.

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

 

Structural Engineering for Blast Resistant Design 

Professor:
Amit Varma
Preferred major(s):
  • No Major Restriction
  • Civil Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering Technology
  • Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering
  • Aeronautical Engineering Technology
  • Construction Engineering
  • Construction Management Technology
  • Engineering (First Year)
  • Materials Engineering
Desired experience:
Willing to work in a large-scale structural testing facility which may include some manual labor.

Today’s structures are highly engineered buildings and bridges capable of carrying everyday and extreme loads. In this project, students will get to work on understanding blast engineering design with a special focus on building materials like concrete and steel. Undergraduate researchers will work day-to-day alongside graduate students and permanent sta! to create test plans, fabricate test specimens, and test large-scale structures to failure. Students will leave this summer with a greater understanding of engineering principles including structural dynamics, impact and blast loading, and composite behavior.

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