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:


Material Processing and Characterization (36)

 

3D printing of DNA origami laden hydrogels 

Professor:
George Chiu
Preferred major(s):
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Mechatronics Engineering
Desired experience:
Fluid mechanics System dynamics and control Familiarity with Labview

The goal of this research is to develop distributed manufacturing strategies for robust mRNA-containing biomaterials. Our approach is to use yeast such as S. cerevisiae to produce large volumes of mRNA and oligo DNA sequences with unprecedented accuracy and scalability. The DNA strands will form the custom-designed nanocage via self-assembly which will encapsulate mRNA. The DNA architectures will be programmed for on-demand mRNA release and 3D printed into a hydrogel formulation for stable storage and administration. This specific project will focus on the printing of DNA origami ladened hydrogels and study the impact of printing parameters on the resulting geometry and functionality of the overall material system.

 

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- Effect of the Microstructure on the Response of Energetic Materials 

Professor:
Marisol Koslowski
Preferred major(s):
  • No Major Restriction
Desired experience:
Python 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. Marisol Koslowski and her team. In this project we will quantify the effect of microstructure on the detonation of HMX and RDX. The student will collect experimental data from literature and will work in collaboration with a PhD student to generate geometries that will be used in detonation simulations.

Students must be familiar with Python.

More information: https://engineering.purdue.edu/ME/People/ptProfile?resource_id=29264

 

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

 

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.

 

Advancing Pharmaceutical Manufacturing through Process Modeling and Novel Sensor Development 

Professor:
Gintaras Reklaitis
Preferred major(s):
  • No Major Restriction
Desired experience:
Basic skills for MATLAB and powder characterization would be a plus, but they are not necessary. The student should be safety conscious, self-motivated, and can work with minimal supervision. Aptitude for mastering the use of gadgets is desired, as well as the ability to understand research papers, documents, and manuals. Any student who prefers a combination of simulation/modeling and hands-on pilot plant work is welcome. Moreover, this project is ideal for a student who is interested in a career in pharma or in powder manufacturing.

The limitations of batch processes to manufacture pharmaceutical products such as tablets, coupled with advances in process analytical technology (PAT) tools have led to a shift towards continuous manufacturing (CM), which represents the future of the pharmaceutical industry.

The flexibility of continuous processes can reduce wasted materials and facilitate scale-up more easily with active plant-wide control strategies. Ultimately, this results in cheaper and safer drugs, as well as a more reliable drug supply chain.

To fully realize the benefits of continuous manufacturing, it is important to capture the dynamics of the particulate process, which can be more complex than common liquid-based or gas-based chemical processes. In addition, effective fault detection and diagnostic systems need to be in place, so intervention strategies can be implemented in case the system goes awry.

All of these require the development of process models that leverages knowledge of the process and big data. Students in this part of the research would have a chance to gain experience in industry-leading software for process modeling (e.g. Simulink, gProms, OSI PI) and machine learning (e.g. Matlab, Python, .NET).

Most importantly, they would be able to test the models in Purdue's Newly Installed Tablet Manufacturing Pilot Plant at the FLEX Lab in Discovery Park.

Another important aspect of the research are sensors. In this project, we will be investigating the feasibility of two novel sensors: a capacitance-based sensor to measure mass flow, and a particle imaging sensor that directly captures images of the powder particles to give you a particle size distribution. We will be testing these sensors together with NIR and Raman sensors, and use data analytics to determine their feasibility of application in a drug product manufacturing process.

 

Bone Fracture and Microscale Deformation Processes 

Professor:
Thomas Siegmund
Preferred major(s):
  • Materials Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
Desired experience:
Materials Characterization, X-ray techniques; Experience in lab work

We seek to modify the deformation characteristics of bone through a pharmacological treatment. This project would demonstrate such a concept using animal bone. Treated and untreated bone will be made available for the interrogation of bone by x-rays. Students will be engaged in the data interpretation of x-ray scattering experiments on bone, not subjected to mechanical loads or subjected to mechanical loads.

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

 

Characterizing novel pressure vessel steel welds 

Professor:
Maria Okuniewski
Preferred major(s):
  • No Major Restriction
Desired experience:
physics or materials engineering

Nuclear reactor pressure vessels (RPVs) are forged in one piece, since previous welds demonstrated severe irradiation-induced embrittlement. However, new and promising welding technologies have surpassed the arc-welding technologies of the 1960s. Specifically, electron beam welding has shown great promise since it does not introduce differing materials to the weld, thus reducing the amount of embrittlement experienced. This project will use positron annihilation lifetime spectroscopy and metallography to characterize the integrity and microstructure of the weld seam and heat affected zone.

 

Drop-on-demand printing of soft biomaterials  

Professor:
Bumsoo Han
Preferred major(s):
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
Desired experience:
Course work of solid or fluid mechanics are required. Experience in LabVIEW, CAD software and Matlab are preferred. Cell biology background is plus but not required.

This project aims to develop drop-on-demand (aka inkjet) printing technology of soft biomaterials including cell-laden hydrogel and RNA containing materials. Specifically, the undergraduate student will formulate and characterize the mechanical and rheological properties of polymeric inks to print and cure for advanced tissue constructs or drug delivery systems.

More information: http://biotransportgroup.org

 

Field Engineering of Quantum Memories 

Professor:
Mahdi Hosseini
Preferred major(s):
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering Technology
  • Physics
Desired experience:
Junior or senior students with GPA>3.6

The goal of this project is to develop a quantum memory using a crystal that can store quantum optical information. Such quantum memory will be essential for developing the future quantum networks where storage of optical entanglement is key to long-distance secure communication. The quantum memory operates below 4K temperature and it requires field engineering to control optical information. Students will be designing and implementing electronic circuit and electrodes around the crystal to achieve high frequency , high voltage control of the field around the crystal used as quantum memory. This is an experimental project in Prof Hosseini Lab in the Birck Nanotechnology Center at Purdue Discovery Park.

 

High Field Vector Magnetization Measurements in Quantum Materials 

Professor:
Arnab Banerjee
Preferred major(s):
  • No Major Restriction
  • Physics
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Engineering
  • Chemistry
Desired experience:
The candidate should have excellent in-lab etiquettes and desirably have some initial experience in working in a research laboratory project. The project involves working with cryogenic systems under high magnetic fields with delicate electronics. Excellent communication and interpersonal skills are also desired. The person should have some expertise in electrical engineering and circuits, and idea of fabrication.

The goal of this project is to set up a novel method for measuring the magnetic properties of quantum materials. Quantum magnets hold a lot of promise in new devices for the future where the properties are determined by tenets of the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle. But how to get access to the weak quantum effects, especially in a challenging environment of a dilution refrigerator in millikelvin? Here we set up a Josephson Junction-based device that can sample small magnetic fields from quantum materials placed at a milliKelvin temperature at up to a 14 T magnetic field, and attempt to discern the magnetic properties, and assess their usefulness for future magnetic routes to solid-state quantum computation.

 

High Performance Perovskite Solar Cells 

Professor:
Letian Dou
Preferred major(s):
  • No Major Restriction

Sunlight is the most abundant renewable energy resource available to human beings, and yet it remains one of the most poorly utilized sources of clean energy. Solar cell modules incorporating single crystalline silicon and gallium arsenide currently provide the highest efficiencies for solar energy conversion to electricity but remain limited due to their high costs.

In the past few years, perovskite solar cell technology has made significant progress, improving in efficiency to ~25%, while maintaining attractive economics due to the use of inexpensive soluble materials coupled with ultra low-cost deposition technologies. However, the real applications of these devices requires new breakthroughs in device performance, large-scale manufacturing, and improved stability. Among these, stability and degradation are among the most significant challenges for perovskite technologies. Perovskite absorber layer and organic charge transport materials can be sensitive to water, oxygen, high temperatures, ultraviolet light, and even electric field, all of which will be encountered during operation. To address these issues, significant efforts have been made, including mixed dimensionality and surface passivation; alternative absorber materials and formulations, new charge transport layers, and advanced encapsulation techniques, etc. Now, T80 lifetimes (i.e., the length of time in operation until measured output power is 80% of original output power) of over 1,000 hours have been demonstrated. However, it is still far below the industry required 20 years lifetime, indicating the ineffectiveness of current approaches. To make this advance, non-incremental and fundamentally new strategies are required to improve the intrinsic stability of perovskite active materials.

In this project, we propose a new paradigm to develop intrinsically robust perovskite active layers through the incorporation of multi-functional semiconducting conjugated ligands. In preliminary work, we have demonstrated that semiconducting ligands can spontaneously organize within the active layer to passivate defects and restrict halide diffusion, resulting in dramatic improvements in moisture and oxygen tolerance, reduced phase segregation, and increased thermal stability. Combining a team with expertise spanning the gamut of materials synthesis, computational materials design, and device engineering, we will develop a suite of multi-functional semiconducting ligands capable of improving the intrinsic stability perovskite materials while preserving and even enhancing their electronic properties. Through this strategy, we aim to achieve over 25% cell efficiency with operational stability over 20 years for future commercial use.
More information: https://letiandougroup.com/

More information: https://letiandougroup.com/

 

High-performance Radiative Cooling Nanocomposites 

Professor:
Xiulin Ruan
Preferred major(s):
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Environmental and Ecological Engineering
Desired experience:
courses in heat transfer and thermodynamics are a plus but not required

Radiative cooling is a passive cooling technology without power consumption, via reflecting sunlight and radiating infrared heat, both into the deep space. Compared to conventional air conditioners, radiative cooling not only saves energy, but also combats climate crisis since all the heat goes to deep space instead of stays on the earth. Recently, our group has invented commercial-like particle-matrix paints (nanocomposites) that cool below the surrounding temperature under direct sunlight. The Purdue cooling paints attracted remarkable global attention and won a Guinness World Record. Read, for example, the BBC News coverage here: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-56749105. Currently we are working to improve the performance and create new radiative cooling solutions.

In this SURF project, we are looking for self-motivated students to work with our PhD students. The student will first synthesize nanocomposites via some wet chemistry and/or 3D printing methods. The optical, mechanical, and other relevant properties will then be characterized with spectrometers and other specialized equipment. Field tests will be performed to measure the cooling performance of the materials and devices. The work is expected to results in journal paper(s) of high impact. Students who make substantial contributions to the work can expect to be co-authors of the paper(s).

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

 

Identification, Verification and Validation of a Surfactant Formulation for Chemical Enhanced Oil Recovery in the Illinois Basin 

Professor:
Nathan Schultheiss
Preferred major(s):
  • No Major Restriction

Challenge: The Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) Lab has an ardent interest in developing a practical and economical program for the Illinois Basin. The Illinois basin is characterized as a mature asset that is typified by its shallow depths and low temperatures. Many of the fields have been waterflooded for the last several decades to aid in the recovery of the stranded oil within the sandstone and carbonate reservoirs. Significant progress has been made in understanding the brine constituents, oil viscosity/API gravity and reservoir mineralogy of the Illinois Basin; however, suitable chemical formulations, primarily surfactant/polymer combinations are still elusive. Considerable chemical testing is necessary to complement the Illinois Basin reservoir characteristics in order to move a project to pilot scale implementation.
The most pressing technical challenge is the design of a surfactant formulation that provides technical confidence (performance) for the reservoir brine and the crude oil. Notwithstanding, the areas of low/ultralow IFT, phase behavior and core flood are all key areas that need to demonstrate performance before implementing a field pilot program. Once a suitable surfactant formulation is determined, its stability, compatibility and performance with respect to the addition of polymer must also be understood and evaluated.

Targeted Goal: This project will focus on using the library of commercial surfactant products available in the EOR lab to find a suitable formulation for a target reservoir in the Illinois Basin. Once a surfactant formulation is determined through satisfactory phase behavior testing, Interfacial tension testing followed by core flood validation experiments will be carried out. Students should expect to learn about chemical enhanced oil recovery while performing experiments with surfactants, various brine solutions and oils.

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

 

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/

 

Mass spectrometry of biomolecules and nanoclusters 

Professor:
Julia Laskin
Preferred major(s):
  • chemistry, biochemistry, computer science, engineering
Desired experience:
general chemistry, calculus, analytical or physical chemistry

We are using mass spectrometry to study the localization of lipids, drugs, and proteins in biological tissues and to prepare novel functional interfaces using well-defined polyatomic ions. The student will work with a graduate student mentor to either perform nanocluster synthesis and characterization using mass spectrometry and electrochemical measurements or to develop new analytical approaches for quantitative analysis of biomolecules in biological samples. In both projects, the student will be trained to operate state-of-the-art mass spectrometers and perform independent data acquisition and analysis. The student will also work with the scientific literature to obtain a broader understanding of the field.

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

 

Metal Polyselenide Chemistry for Photovoltaic Applications 

Professor:
Rakesh Agrawal
Preferred major(s):
  • Chemical Engineering
Desired experience:
General Chemistry-level lab experience

Fabrication of metal chalcogenide semiconductors by solution-based methods is a promising route to inexpensive and high-throughput manufacturing of photovoltaic devices. However, these methods often rely on simple metal salts (such as metal halides, nitrates, or acetates) as precursors, and the anions in these salts can lead to impurities in the final product. To bypass this challenge, researchers have developed chemistries that allow for the dissolution of metal and metal chalcogenide precursors through a reactive dissolution that produces a soluble complex with metal-sulfur bonding. While this is suitable for the synthesis of metal sulfides, similar routes for metal selenides are lacking.
In this project, we investigate a new and facile route to directly produce soluble metal polyselenides and the application of these complexes as solution-phase precursors for metal selenide synthesis. Researchers will crystallize the metal polyselenides and utilize X-Ray Diffraction to determine the exact structure of the complexes. Additionally, researchers will utilize these precursors to make metal selenide thin films for application in solar cells. In this work, researchers will gain experience in chemical synthesis, thin-film fabrication, and materials characterization, while learning how these concepts can be applied to photovoltaics.

More information: https://engineering.purdue.edu/RARG/members/solar-energy/

 

Molecular microscopy to inform the design of medications 

Professor:
Garth Simpson
Preferred major(s):
  • No Major Restriction

As illustrated with the COVID vaccines, storage and stability of medications can limit widespread availability. We are developing innovative chemical imaging tools with ultrafast pulsed lasers capable of mapping transformations within medical formulations to model and inform stability and bioavailability. Depending on the interests of the students, project scope can range from: i) bench-science in sample preparation and characterization, ii) instrument design and optical path alignment, iii) data acquisition and image analysis algorithm development, iv) partnership with collaborators in the pharmaceutical industry. We have a vibrant and diverse cohort of current researchers dedicated to fostering a supportive and collaborative research environment for all.

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

 

Multimaterial 3D Printing of Bioinspired Robotics 

Professor:
Alex Chortos
Preferred major(s):
  • No Major Restriction
Desired experience:
No specific experience is necessary. Any previous lab experience is an asset.

Technologies that integrate with biology enable new approaches to augmented reality as well as improved quality of life for people with medical conditions. To enable this integration, technology must take on some of the characteristic of biological systems, such as softness and 3D form factors. 3D printing can create soft electronic systems that mimic biological systems, including the ability sense their surroundings, process information, and actuate in response.
In this project, a student will work with a PhD student to prepare electronic materials, fabricate bio-inspired electronic devices and test their device operation.

There are different research scopes that are available depending on student interest/capabilities. Examples include:
-Materials development, consisting of preparing bio-inspired materials and optimizing their composition to achieve target electromechanical properties. Learned skills include elastomer chemistry, polymer physics, and electromechanical testing.
-Device fabrication, consisting of printing devices that include multiple electronic materials and testing their properties. Learned skills include device physics, printer operation and print path design, and circuit design for system measurement/controls.
-System modeling, consisting of modeling using COMSOL or ABAQUS to identify ideal device structures and materials properties that act as targets for experimental efforts. Learned skills include mechanical modeling software and application knowledge.

More information: https://engineering.purdue.edu/ME/People/ptProfile?resource_id=243743

 

Nanoscale High-Speed 3D Printing  

Professor:
Xianfan Xu
Preferred major(s):
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Physics
  • Industrial Engineering
  • Computer Engineering
Desired experience:
Junior or Senior standing, knowledge in CAD, knowledge in Python is a plus

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, including projecting 2D images and printing 3D structures in a rapid, layer-by-layer fashion. 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.

More information: https://engineering.purdue.edu/~xxu/; https://engineering.purdue.edu/NanoLab/

 

Physics and Analytics of Lithium Batteries 

Professor:
Partha Mukherjee
Preferred major(s):
  • No Major Restriction
Desired experience:
Strong analytical skill and desire to learn new experimental and modeling & analysis tools.

Lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries are ubiquitous. Thermal, electrochemical, and degradation characteristics of these systems are critical toward safer and high-performance batteries for electric vehicles. As part of this research, physics-based and data-driven analytics of experimental and simulated performance under normal and anomalous operating conditions of lithium-ion and lithium metal batteries will be performed.

The final deliverable will be one research report (based on weekly progress presentations and updates) and one final presentation.

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

 

Polaritonic Energy Transport: Hybridizing Radiation and Conduction for Microelectronics Cooling 

Professor:
Thomas Beechem
Preferred major(s):
  • No Major Restriction
Desired experience:
Proficiency in Matlab, COMSOL or both is a plus.

Who we are… Specere is a latin word that means “to look or behold.” That’s what we do. We look, explore, and examine different ways to: (1) move energy with light and (2) get information from light. More specifically, we are a light lab employing infrared physics to create spectroscopic, thermal, and sensing solutions.

Who we are seeking… We look for motivated and hard-working undergraduates having both strong aspirations for post-graduate studies as well as those that are just “grad school curious.” All applicants should be capable of working independently while effectively communicating within a team setting.

Research Topic, Polaritonic Energy Transport: We seek to design materials capable of more effectively moving heat at extremely small scales like those in modern microelectronics. Success will enable: more efficient data centers, power electronics like those in EV’s, and new computing architectures.

What’ You’ll Do: Team members will be responsible for designing novel metamaterial stacks capable of maximizing heat transfer using a combination of computational modeling and experimental measurements of optical properties. Direct mentoring from Dr. Beechem will build your skills up in each area such that you will gain proficiency in advanced simulation (COMSOL) and spectroscopic tools (Raman, IR-ellipsometry). In addition, you will have the chance to participate in writing journal articles and pursuing patents based on your work.

More information: www.specere.org

 

Processing of Sustainable Food Packaging and/or Fire Fighting Foams 

Professor:
Jeffrey Youngblood
Preferred major(s):
  • No Major Restriction
Desired experience:
Enthusiasm and interest for materials engineering, chemistry, and sustainability.

Packaging is a critical feature of the food delivery supply chain. Food packaging is not just there to “hold” food but provides a critical function of preservation over long periods in a wide variety of temperature and humidity conditions. Plastics are the material of choice for many applications due to its low density and cost for the function and can actually be lower total carbon emissions that other materials such as glass and paper. Unfortunately, most are not inherently sustainable. However, as food waste is ~10% of greenhouse gas emissions, elimination of plastic in packaging could actually be worse for the environment. What is needed is an alternative material that can obtain the same stringent barrier requirements that is sustainable. Cellulose is one such material and is biodegradable as well. This project will investigate Cellulose Nanomaterials extracted from trees to investigate sustainable packaging. Due to its nanoscale size, it obtains properties more like plastic films than paper with regards to barrier, strength, etc. Alternatively, research will be conducted into finding replacements for aqueous fluorinated fire-fighting foams (AFFF). AFFF is currently the only qualified milspec Naval fire fighting foam surfactant, but the principal component, fluorosurfactants, are known toxic compounds, hence, replacement is necessary. This project will research non-toxic, non-fluorinated replacements as well as additives to improve performance. At this point, it is unknown which project will be pursued, but it is sure that fun with sustainable materials will be had!

More information: https://scholar.google.com/citations?hl=en&user=qkkQBDsAAAAJ&view_op=list_works&alert_preview_top_rm=2&sortby=pubdate

 

Understanding Quantum Correlations of Light for Imaging  

Professor:
Mahdi Hosseini
Preferred major(s):
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Physics
Desired experience:
Junior or Senior students with experience/knowledge of image processing, machine learning and optics. GPA>3.5

We aim to leverage the expertise in two fields of computational and quantum imaging to develop classical algorithms to optimize and process quantum correlated images. On one hand, we introduce quantum complexity to imaging algorithms which deserves the attention of AI-assisted signal/image processing to extract hidden information from measurements. On the other hand, we iteratively engineer quantum states of a light source to enhance imaging resolution. Our goal is to implement a room-temperature quantum light source and understand and optimize its quantum correlations in multiple dimensions. We plan to apply computational and machine learning methods to reconstruct images using model-based gradient ascent and Bayesian estimation techniques.

 

Using plastic microspheres to increase freezing-thaw resistance of construction materials  

Professor:
Luna Lu
Preferred major(s):
  • No Major Restriction

Project description: Freezing thaw is one of the major damage sources of construction materials. Traditional methods use air-entrainment admixtures to increase the freeing thaw resistance but cause other issues such as strength decrease. This project will explore to use micrometer scale plastic microspheres in construction materials to increase the freezing thaw resistance while maintain the service properties. Student will help graduate students with various research and experimental work, including but not limited to, material preparation, polishing, and testing. The undergraduate student will also have an opportunity to learn the essential skillsets such experiments design, data analysis and project presentation etc.

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