Research Projects

This is a list of research projects that may have opportunities for undergraduate students. You can browse all the projects, or view only projects in the following categories:

Mechanical Systems

 

3D printing of propellants, energetic and piezoelectric materials

Research categories:  Innovative Technology/Design, Material Science and Engineering, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Mechanical Engineering
Professor: Emre Gunduz
Preferred major(s): ME
Number of positions: 1

The research project involves 3D printing of primarily piezoelectric materials, propellants and other energetics into near-net shape parts using a commercial 3D printer.The student will work on the formulation and fabrication of the custom filament materials using an extruder as well the part design and printing. This project is a great opportunity to learn about the basic steps in 3D fused deposition printing using thermoplastic and UV curable polymers. The students can also contribute beyond the initial scope described here and try out their own ideas.

 

A miniaturized condenser for collecting exhaled breath condensates

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Electronics, Innovative Technology/Design, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering
Professor: Jacqueline Linnes
Preferred major(s): electrical and computer engineering, mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering
Desired experience:   Helpful coursework: circuit analysis and design, control/feedback systems, Skills: Demonstrated ability to work independently and creative and resourceful thinking. Experience tinkering and rapid prototyping with microcontrollers is favored.
Number of positions: 1

We are utilizing low-cost rapid diagnostics to develop portable, non-invasive, glucose sensing and monitoring devices for diabetic patients. Currently, we are measuring glucose concentrations from exhaled breath condensates (EBC) which has historically required breathing into a device cooled by ice to condense moisture. Students on this project are expected to perform mentored independent research to develop an electrically cooled, portable, miniaturized condenser that can collect 10 µl of EBC within 30 seconds and selectively condenses only breath containing carbon dioxide/glucose while quantifying the total volume of air exhaled. You will gain hands on experience in instrumentation development, bioassays, and control systems.

 

Characterization of Homemade Explosives

Research categories:  Chemical, Civil and Construction, Material Science and Engineering, Mechanical Systems, Nanotechnology, Physical Science
School/Dept.: ME
Professor: Steven Son
Preferred major(s): ME, AAE, MSE, or ChE
Desired experience:   Two or more years toward B.S. in engineering or science. US citizens are preferred because student will sometimes need to handle explosives.
Number of positions: 1

The SURF student will work with a team to explore characterization of homemade explosives using small scale experiments or explore “hot spot” formation in high explosives via acoustic stimulation. Microwave interferometry, schlieren imaging, or infrared imaging will be applied to these systems.

 

Combustion and Shock Synthesis of materials

Research categories:  Aerospace Engineering, Chemical, Material Science and Engineering, Mechanical Systems, Nanotechnology, Physical Science
School/Dept.: ME
Professor: Steven Son
Preferred major(s): ME, AAE, MSE, or ChE
Desired experience:   Two or more years toward B.S. in engineer or science degree.
Number of positions: 1

The SURF student will work with a team to understand how reactive synthesis materials can be modified to enable successful synthesis of materials (such as cubic boron nitride) by shock-assisted reaction. A gas gun will be used to perform experiments. Dynamic experiments will be used to examine the response of the materials and final materials will be characterized.

 

Control Algorithm Research and Development to support virtual prototyping of pumps and motors

Research categories:  Mechanical Systems, Other
School/Dept.: Department of Agricultural & Biological Engineering
Professor: Monika Ivantysynova
Preferred major(s): Mechanical Engineering
Desired experience:   Matlab, C programming, Controls
Number of positions: 1

The project presents an undergraduate engineering student with interest in controls, programming, or fluid power to expand their experience in modeling real engineering systems. This project is a crucial part of a much larger effort of modeling swashplate type axial piston positive displacement pumps and motors. The student will have a chance to apply engineering and programming skills in a real life model being considered the world's benchmark in axial piston pump modeling.

The model of the pump requires the pump to be loaded in a way to represent the system the pump is used as a supply for. The SURF project will optimize/improve the current PID controller found within the code to automatically search out the correct values of external loads in order to set the correct operating condition commanded by the model's user.

This research will include programming in c++, using GitHub to collaborate with the team of PhD researchers, using Matlab to organize simulations and post process results.
The prospective student should consider themselves adapt with computers and knowledge of programming and PID controllers. Any lack of these skills can easily be overcome with a healthy eagerness to learn.

 

Design and Testing of a Novel Concept for Variable Flow Pumps

Research categories:  Agricultural, Aerospace Engineering, Material Science and Engineering, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Ag & Bio Eng. / Mech. Eng.
Professor: Andrea Vacca
Preferred major(s): Mechanical, Ag and Bio, Aerospace, Material Engineering
Desired experience:   CAD modeling / fluid mechanics / fluid power / labview
Number of positions: 1

The present project is aimed at realizing a prototype of a novel concept of pumps. The novel concept consists in realizing a variable flow regulation using the principle of external gear machines. The novel concept guarantees higher energy efficiency of the overall hydraulic system.

The student's contribution within this project will be the design of an actual prototype of the new concept, suitable to operate at a level of delivery pressure up to 10 bar. On the basis of fluid-dynamic simulation results, the student will design all internal parts and follow the manufacturing process. In the final period of the project, it is expected an experimental activity aimed at verifying the expected pump performance on a research test rig utilizing existing facilities at the Maha Fluid Power Research Center of Purdue.

 

Development of Phase Transforming Cellular Materials (Design and 3D Printing)

Research categories:  Aerospace Engineering, Civil and Construction, Material Science and Engineering, Mechanical Systems, Nanotechnology, Physical Science, Other
School/Dept.: Lyles School of Civil Engineering
Professor: Pablo Zavattieri
Preferred major(s): Engineering (Aero, Civil, Mechanical)
Desired experience:   - Mechanics (mechanics of materials, strength of materials) - Background on CAD software, - Some programming experience would be desired
Number of positions: 1

Phase transforming cellular materials (PXCMs) are a new type of energy-absorbing material which can resist high impact loads without experiencing irreversible deformation. PXCMs exhibit the same level of energy dissipation as traditional cellular materials but are capable of returning to their original shape. This new type of material could be utilized in many applications: automobiles, protective gear, or buildings.
PXCMs consist of periodic unit cells. Each unit cell includes several sinusoidal beams and stiffened beams. A unit cell has multiple stable configurations and each stable configuration is associated with a unique stable material phase. Under an impact load, the progressive phase transformation of each unit cell in a PXCM results in energy dissipation.
PXCMs have exhibited excellent performance resisting loads in one direction. However, it is desirable to develop and test PXCMs that are capable of resisting loads from multiple (and even arbitrary) directions. The objective of this project is to fabricate and test new 3D PXCM models. Those models will be designed using computer-aided design (CAD) modeling software and fabricated using a 3D printer. Compression and tension tests will be conducted on testing machines to evaluate the performance of these 3D printed PXCMs. The test results will then be analyzed using scripts in any number of computer languages (e.g. MATLAB, Python, or C).

 

Enabling Ultra-High Diesel Engine Efficiencies Through Flexible Valve Actuation

Research categories:  Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Mechanical Engineering
Professor: Greg Shaver
Preferred major(s): Mechanical Engineering
Desired experience:   Thermodynamics, measurement systems; if possible: IC engines, control systems
Number of positions: 1

The Purdue team is focused on improving the efficiency of diesel engines through flexibility in the valvetrain. As one example, cylinder deactivation allows increases in efficiency, and exhaust gas after treatment effectiveness, via reduction in airflow and pumping penalty when 2, 3, or 4 of 6 cylinder are deactivated (both fueling and cylinder valve motions are deactivated). The Purdue team utilizes both simulations and a unique multi-cylinder engine system to study this and other strategies. The project includes funding from, and interaction with, both Cummins and Eaton.

More information: http://www.gregmshaver.com

 

In Situ Strain Mapping Experiments

Research categories:  Aerospace Engineering, Civil and Construction, Computational/Mathematical, Computer Engineering and Computer Science, Industrial Engineering, Material Science and Engineering, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: School of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Professor: Michael Sangid
Preferred major(s): AAE, MSE, or ME
Number of positions: 2

The research we do is building relationships between the material's microstructure and the subsequent performance of the material, in terms of fatigue, fracture, creep, delamination, corrosion, plasticity, etc. The majority of our group’s work has been on advanced alloys and composites. Both material systems have direct applications in Aerospace Engineering, as we work closely with these industries. We are looking for a motivated, hard-working student interested in research within the field of experimental mechanics of materials.

The in situ experiments include advanced materials testing, using state-of-the-art 3d strain mapping. We deposit self-assembled sub-micron particles on the material’s surface and track their displacement as we deform the specimen. Coupled with characterization of the materials microstructure, we can obtain strain localization as a precursor to failure. Specific projects look at increasing the structural integrity of additive manufactured materials and increasing fidelity of lifing analysis to introduce new light weight materials into applications.

 

Injet Printing of Energetic Material in a MEMs Device

Research categories:  Chemical, Material Science and Engineering, Mechanical Systems, Nanotechnology, Physical Science
School/Dept.: ME
Professor: Steven Son
Preferred major(s): ME, AAE, MSE, or ChE
Desired experience:   Two or more years towards a B.S. in engineering or science.
Number of positions: 1

The SURF student will work with a multidisciplinary team to explore printing energetic materials that will be integrated in a MEMs device. Thermite or explosive materials will be printed. High speed imaging, IR imaging, microscopy etc. will be used to characterize the deposition and performance.

 

Laser Diagnostics Applied to Reacting Fluid Flows for Propulsion Devices

Research categories:  Aerospace Engineering, Chemical, Mechanical Systems, Physical Science
School/Dept.: Mechanical Engineering
Professor: Terrence Meyer
Preferred major(s): Mechanical, Aerospace, or Chemical Engineering; Physics; Chemistry
Desired experience:   Physics, chemistry, and mathematics courses
Number of positions: 1

Propulsion, transportation, and energy systems rely on the turbulent mixing and efficient chemical reaction of fuels and oxidizers. Such reactions can take place in the liquid, gas, or solid phases and are investigated using sophisticated imaging and spectroscopic techniques. The undergraduate research assistant will work with graduate students and research faculty to assemble and operate flow hardware, align and test optical diagnostic instrumentation, and help collect and analyze data acquired using such techniques. The flows are designed to simulate conditions that are present in a variety of practical devices. The student will gain valuable hands-on experience and theoretical background that will be of use in a variety of fields related to mechanical, aerospace, and chemical engineering, as well as gain insight into potential areas of research for graduate study.

 

Laser direct deposition of advanced materials

Research categories:  Material Science and Engineering, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Mechanical Engineering
Professor: Yung Shin
Preferred major(s): mechanical, materials
Desired experience:   Must have completed the sophomore.
Number of positions: 1

Laser direct deposition is an emerging technology, which allows for direct synthesis of alloys while forming 3D shapes. This research involves the study of the mechanical properties of the laser direct deposited materials. The student is expected to assist the graduate students in the processing and carry out some mechanical characterization.

 

Microbes in the Air: Dynamics of Airborne Bacteria, Fungi & Pollen in a Living Laboratory

Research categories:  Agricultural, Bioscience/Biomedical, Chemical, Civil and Construction, Environmental Science, Life Science, Mechanical Systems, Nanotechnology, Physical Science
School/Dept.: Civil Engineering
Professor: Brandon Boor
Preferred major(s): I am recruiting students from all engineering and science majors
Desired experience:   Some experience with MATLAB and programming is preferred.
Number of positions: 1

Our homes and offices are home to trillions of microorganisms, including diverse communities of bacteria and fungi. My research group explores the dynamics of airborne microorganisms, or bioaerosols, in buildings. These are incredibly small airborne particles, less than 10 micrometers in size - one-tenth the thickness of your hair! Bioaerosols can be released from our bodies, stirred-up from house dust, and can flow into buildings from the outside via ventilation. By developing a deeper understanding of the emissions, transport, and control of bioaerosols, we can work towards buildings that promote healthy microbial communities.

In this project, you will use our state-of-the-art research facilities to measure, in real-time, concentrations of bioaerosols in a living laboratory (occupied office) at Herrick Laboratories in Discovery Park. You will learn how to develop an experimental plan, conduct air quality measurements, and analyze bioaerosol data. Most importantly, the data you collect will help us learn how people, and the buildings in which we live, influence the behavior of these tiny airborne particles. The project is very well-suited for anyone interested in microbiology, air quality, human health, HVAC systems, or atmospheric science.

More information: http://www.brandonboor.com/

 

Micromachining of plastics

Research categories:  Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Mechanical Engineering
Professor: Yung Shin
Preferred major(s): mechanical, materials
Desired experience:   Laser safety training. Must be in junior or senior standing in the fall semester of 2016.
Number of positions: 1

Micro channels are required for various polymers and plastics used in many engineering applications such as micro fluidic device, electronic components and others. This project will involve the studying the micromachining of those materials by a CO2 laser. The student is expected to independently carry out the experimental design, experiments and post characterization to investigate the effects of process parameters on the quality and speed of micro channels for various materials. Must finish the laser safety training before the SURF program.

 

Modeling and Control of Aircraft Fuel Thermal Management Systems

Research categories:  Aerospace Engineering, Computational/Mathematical, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Mechanical Engineering
Professor: Neera Jain
Preferred major(s): Mechanical or Aerospace Engineering
Desired experience:   Desired coursework: thermodynamics, dynamics, control systems. Desired skills: exceptional coding skills. This project may contain aspects that are restricted to U.S. Citizens.
Number of positions: 1

The thermal and power demands on energy systems across a range of applications and industries are facing unprecedented growth. These systems are increasingly required to operate near the edges of their operating envelopes. As a specific example, tactical aircraft must dissipate waste heat to protect flight critical systems. However, each subsequent generation of aircraft faces increasing thermal challenges with decreasing availability of heat sinks – namely onboard fuel and ambient air – and increasing mission loads. This is especially apparent in tactical aircraft with shrinking component footprint requirements and dynamic, strenuous mission profiles. Better energy resource allocation across the aircraft and over the mission is crucial for expanding aircraft capability. Therefore, we require systematic design of energy resource management algorithms that maximize system capability via tight integration among mixed energy domain subsystems.

In this project, you will augment an existing model of a notional fuel thermal management system (FTMS) to include additional aircraft subsystems that are tightly coupled with the performance of the FTMS. You will also use optimization software to optimize the performance of the aircraft over various mission profiles.

 

Modeling and Control of a PEM Fuel Cell Micro-CHP System

Research categories:  Aerospace Engineering, Computational/Mathematical, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Mechanical Engineering
Professor: Neera Jain
Preferred major(s): Mechanical or Aerospace Engineering
Desired experience:   Desired coursework: Thermodynamics, Dynamics, Control Systems, Mechatronics Desired skills: proficiency with MATLAB and LabVIEW software; experience with experimental hardware, specifically data acquisition; experience coding in Modelica
Number of positions: 1

There is a growing interest in distributed energy resources (DERs) in the United States and around the world. Blackouts continue to cause major disruptions in the U.S., but a more distributed energy generation landscape can offer more robustness to these types of failures. From an efficiency standpoint, transmission losses can be minimized by generating and consuming electricity at the same location through an increase in the use of DERs. Finally, since many DERs are themselves renewable (e.g. rooftop photovoltaic solar panel installations), distributed energy generation has the potential to decrease reliance on fossil fuels.

A DER of particular interest is micro-CHP (Combined Heat and Power), also called micro cogeneration. CHP is the use of a prime mover (such as a gas turbine engine) to simultaneously generate electricity and recover useful thermal energy that would otherwise be wasted in the production of electricity, thereby resulting in systems with significantly higher efficiencies than traditional power plants. While CHP has been traditionally used in the industrial and large-scale commercial sectors, micro-CHP systems typically produce up to 50kW of electricity and are primarily aimed at the residential and small building market to meet electricity and hot water and/or space heating needs. From an economic perspective, these systems are particularly advantageous in locations where electricity prices are much higher than natural gas prices, and/or where robustness to grid failures is particularly important (e.g. in a hospital). Common prime movers for micro-CHP include combustion engines, Stirling engines, and fuel cells. Among these, PEMFC (proton-exchange membrane fuel cell) micro-CHP systems have a strong potential for high electrical efficiency, low emissions, and rapid transient response to load variability.

In our research group, we are interested in determining the optimal way to control these systems, particularly through the use of integrated thermal storage. In this project you will work with a graduate student to derive a dynamic model our experimental PEMFC micro-CHP system and collect experimental data to validate the model. Depending on your experience level and interest, the project may include control design (in simulation) for the purpose of optimizing the use of the thermal storage integrated with the PEMFC micro-CHP system.

 

Nano-Piezotronics for Smarter Electronics

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Chemical, Electronics, Industrial Engineering, Material Science and Engineering, Mechanical Systems, Nanotechnology, Physical Science
School/Dept.: Industrial Engineering
Professor: Wenzhuo Wu
Preferred major(s): Mechanical, Electrical, Materials, Biomedical, Industrial Engineering
Number of positions: 1

The seamless and adaptive interactions between electronics and their environment (e.g. the human body) are crucial for advancing emerging technologies e.g. wearable devices, implantable sensors, and novel surgical tools. Non-electrical stimuli, e.g. mechanical agitations, are ubiquitous and abundant in these applications for interacting with the electronics. Current scheme of operation not only requires complex integration of heterogeneous components, but also lacks direct interfacing between electronics and mechanical actuations.

Piezotronics is an emerging field in nanomaterials research and offers novel means of manipulating electronic processes via dynamically tunable strain. In this research, the SURF students will develop flexible and transparent piezotronic nanowires transistors for active and adaptive bio-electronics sensing and interfacing. The device is capable of self-powered active sensing by converting mechanical stimulations into electrical controlling signals without applied bias, which emulates the physiological operations of mechanoreceptors in biological entities, e.g. hair cells in the cochlea.

This project is scientifically novel with transformative impact because it not only dramatically advances fundamental understanding of the emerging research in piezotronics, but also enables new opportunities in designing “smarter” electronics that are capable of interacting with the environment seamlessly and adaptively, which is not available in existing technologies, for societally pervasive applications in intelligent wearable devices, surgical tools and bio-probes. The SURF student will work with two PhD students on the nanomaterials synthesis, nanodevices fabrication and measurement. For more information, please visit our lab, the Nanosystems and Nanomanufacturing Lab or feel free to contact me. Contact information appears in the website.

 

Opioid monitoring and anti-overdose drug delivery device

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Electronics, Innovative Technology/Design, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: BME
Professor: Hugh Lee
Preferred major(s): BME/ECE
Desired experience:   Circuit design, CAD, machining
Number of positions: 1

Prescription-drug addiction is a nationwide epidemic that requires better understanding of drug usage to prevent opioid-related mortality due to accidental overdose. The selected student will work independently or with a graduate student to create a wearable and implantable device to continuously monitor levels of opioid metabolites in the body and to mitigate overdose related fatalities with a drug delivery vehicle.

More information: engineering.purdue.edu/LIMR

 

Simulation of Hydrostatic Pumps for High Pressure Applications

Research categories:  Aerospace Engineering, Computational/Mathematical, Computer Engineering and Computer Science, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Ag & Bio Eng. / Mech. Eng.
Professor: Andrea Vacca
Preferred major(s): AA / ECE / ME / ABE
Desired experience:   programming expertise; knowledge of Phyton
Number of positions: 1

Within this project, an advance simulation tool for high pressure pumps, based on the external gear design principle will be created.
The numerical model will focus on the study of the flow dynamics aspects related to the displacing action realized by the unit. The model will take advantage of already existing tools for the generation of the necessary input data related to the geometry.
The simulation will be based on simplified CFD approaches related to the modeling of the flow, considering also aspects related to fluid cavitation.
The model will be implemented in Python.
The activity will also include a validation of the simulation model, based on experimental data available for both standard and novel designs of external gear pumps.

 

Soft Sensors for State Estimation of Robotic Manipulators

Research categories:  Electronics, Material Science and Engineering, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Mechanical Engineering
Professor: Rebecca Kramer
Preferred major(s): ME, EE, MSE
Number of positions: 1

Soft robotics is a research field focused on developing non-traditional robotic systems using materials that are flexible and stretchable. In contrast, many traditional robots are composed of rigid linkages that are controlled to move discrete distances and angles. Because of the of the flexible materials comprising soft robots, they are capable of creating and/or surviving deformations that are many times larger than those found in rigid systems. As a result, the actuation, sensing and control needs differ greatly for soft robotic systems when compared to the traditional robotic systems.

For this project, a 1 degree-of-freedom pneumatic arm will be instrumented with a network of strain gauges. The arm will be actuated using pneumatics. State estimation and thus, control, of the arm will be accomplished by instrumenting the surface of the arm with a network of sensors composed of highly stretchable elastomer strain gauges. This project will require the design, manufacture and integration of sensors onto the pneumatic arm. The effect of different types and magnitudes of loading on the sensor output will be studied and used to iterate the design of the sensor network.

 

Stimuli responsive fluidics controls on a paper-based bacterial detection platform

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Chemical, Innovative Technology/Design, Material Science and Engineering, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering
Professor: Jacqueline Linnes
Preferred major(s): chemical, biomedical, materials, or mechanical engineering
Desired experience:   Helpful coursework: polymers, thermodynamics, organic chemistry Skills: Demonstrated ability to work independently and creative and resourceful thinking. Experience tinkering and rapid prototyping is favored.
Number of positions: 1

The Linnes Lab aims to develop a rapid, paper-based point-of-care diagnostics to enable timely and appropriate treatment of infectious diseases ranging from cholera to sepsis. To automate the multistep detection assays on these tests, we are integrating stimuli responsive polymers (e.g. wax) to control the flow of sample and assay reagents. We seek a motivated student to optimize the composition and high-throughput deposition of candidate polymers. You will gain technical experience in fluidics and bioassays through this cross-institutional project with collaborators in the mechanical engineering department and clinical partners in Eldoret, Kenya.

 

Stretchable Electronics Enabled by Nanomaterials

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Electronics, Material Science and Engineering, Mechanical Systems, Nanotechnology
School/Dept.: Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering
Professor: Chi Hwan Lee
Preferred major(s): Biomedical, Mechanical, Electrical, Materials Engineering
Desired experience:   It would be great if you have cleanroom experiences or other device fabrications, but they are not required.
Number of positions: 2

In this research, we are exploring novel nanomaterials as a building block for stretchable electronics for application of skin-like wearable biomedical devices. The scope of project spans on synthesis, manipulation and large-scale integrations of the nanomaterials into fully functional devices, and their device applications. Two graduate students in the lab will assist throughout. For more information, please visit our lab, Soft BioNanoTronics Lab or feel free to contact me. Contact information appears in the website.

 

Ultra-Flexible Triboelectric Nanogenerators for Self-Powered Wearable Sensors

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Chemical, Electronics, Industrial Engineering, Material Science and Engineering, Mechanical Systems, Nanotechnology, Physical Science
School/Dept.: Industrial Engineering
Professor: Wenzhuo Wu
Preferred major(s): Biomedical, Mechanical, Electrical, Materials, Industrial Engineering
Number of positions: 1

Triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG) has emerged as a promising technology for efficiently harvesting mechanical energy due to high conversion efficiency, low fabrication cost, and broad choice of materials. TENGs utilize contact electrification to generate surface charges and convert mechanical energy into electricity from contact and separation between triboelectric layers. Apart from material selection and device structure, one crucial factor affecting the performance of contact electrification process is materials properties and topography of triboelectric contact surfaces. In this project, we will manufacture large scale TENG with modifiable properties at high production rate. These flexible TENGs will be used to harvest mechanical energy from human body, e.g. muscle stretching/motion, and from ambient environment, e.g. wind, raindrops. The converted electricity can be utilized to power small electronic devices, e.g. sensors and processers. The TENGs can also function as self-powered wearable sensors to quantitatively track human motion and monitor posture. The student will work with our PhD students on the nanomaterials synthesis, nanodevices fabrication and measurement.

For more information, please visit our lab, the Nanosystems and Nanomanufacturing Lab or feel free to contact me. Contact information appears in the website.