The University of Maryland MRSEC grants ended in September 2013 after 17 years of successful operation. This site remains as a history of the center, but will not be actively maintained.

Undergraduate/Graduate Programs

2011 REU Projects

This list will be updated as projects are finalized.

Synthesis of nanomaterials for solar generation of hydrogen

Research Advisor: Dr. Sheryl Ehrman

The overall objective of our project is to identify materials that can be used for solar generation of hydrogen. The materials must be stable, non-toxic, low cost and have reasonable efficiency. In this project, the student will conduct synthesis of photoactive nanoparticles using flame or solution phase approaches. The objectives are to demonstrate control over size and shape of the particles and to observe how this affects their photoactivity. The student may also work on the development of scaleable processes for making porous films from the nanoparticles. The student will join a group of graduate and undergraduate students, and will participate in activities to develop communication skills including presentations at group meetings and short technical reports involving library database research.

Synthesis and Electronic Transport Properties of Graphene: Single Graphite Layers

Research Advisor: Dr. Michael Fuhrer

It has recently become possible to synthesize graphene, a single atomic plane of graphite, in the laboratory. Graphene may have many of the advantages of carbon nanotubes for electronic applications: high charge-carrier mobility, high thermal conductivity, small electronic mass, etc. However, extrinsic effects, such as interaction with the substrate and adsorbed molecules, play a large role in determining the properties of graphene. The REU student will learn to synthesize single graphene sheets and fabricate devices from graphene using advanced lithography techniques. The student will address the latest problems in graphene electronics including controlled introduction of adsorbates to graphene in ultra-high vacuum to study impurity scattering, superconductivity, and the Kondo effect; imaging electron transport in graphene via scanned-probe techniques, and/or controlling the electronic device properties via interaction with tailored substrates.

Embedded computing of Arduino

Research Advisor: Dr. Romel Gomez

The Arduino platform is arguably one of the most exciting microprocessor platforms that have been introduced recently. Because of its low cost and ease of use, it has become a favorite of hobbyists, artists and engineers in implementing widgets that use control and automation. Similarly, because it is an open source, a wide range of applications from dancing lights, energy management, to homemade Segways can be found on the web. At the University of Maryland, we use it in our Introductory Engineering Design Class as the brain behind a toy hovercraft that can autonomously navigate an obstacle course. In this summer project, the student will be introduced into this processor in a hands-on environment. We will cover materials such as how to control electrical objects such as lights, motors and heaters, measure inputs such as temperature, distance, direction, light levels, motion, GPS location etc. I would emphasize elementary control algorithms that could relate the output with the input parameters. Time permitting, I will also show how these devices can "talk" over a wireless channel. We will discuss possible applications of this device to benefit and modernize school laboratories. The ultimate goal is to tap into the creativity of young minds and to cultivate innovative and entrepreneurial spirit.

Multifunctional Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) Films as Oxidant Barriers

Research Advisor: Dr. Ray Phaneuf

This project involves the fabrication, characterization and optimization of multilayer-structured, multifunctional films for diffusion barriers. The approach is based upon atomic layer deposition (ALD): an innovative, thermally activated gas phase process for synthesizing nanometer-thick solid films by sequential exposure to 2 or more gas reactants to induce self-limited chemisorbed surface reactions, which reduces the rate of oxidant arrival at the underlying surface by orders of magnitude. Multiple compositions and layer structures are explored to optimize barrier performance and optical clarity. Tarnishing of silver substrates due to penetration of the films by sulfur is evaluated via reflectance spectroscopy, and using x-ray photoelectrons spectroscopy (XPS) to measure the amount of sulfur on the surface subsequent to stripping the oxide after a series of exposures. Accelerated transport of oxidants through the film and reaction at the silver surface, using both exposure to atmospheres with controlled, elevated concentrations of H2S, and increasing the temperature of ALD coated samples are employed to establish the characteristic time scales, likely decades or longer. The reversibility of ALD metal oxide coatings is evaluated to determine if either the deposition or the removal of thin layers of metal oxides on silver changes the physical characteristics or chemical composition of the silver surface.

Graphene Metamaterials

Research Advisor: Dr. H. Dennis Drew

Using modern synthesis techniques it has become possible to engineer new artificial materials –metamaterials – based on nano-particles of different materials. These materials have novel optical properties that can find many uses in many fields. Examples are micro lenses, invisibility cloaks, and ultrahigh spatial resolution imaging systems. In the case of nano-particles of graphene (single layer graphite) the metamaterials have interesting optical properties at terahertz frequencies. The REU student will design graphene metamaterials and applications of these materials. He/she will also learn to synthesize these metamaterials and characterize them with optical measurements. He/she will also work on the theory of these materials based on software that performs finite element calculations of electromagnetic fields.

ZnO Nanowires And Nanoparticles With Liquid Crystal For Photovoltaic Applications

Research Advisor: Dr. Lourdes Salamanca-Riba

We are fabricating ZnO nanowires and nanoparticles and investigating their optical and electronic properties. These nanomaterials will then be combined with 8CB liquid crystal for the fabrication of photovoltaic (PV) cells. These cells belong to a class of PV cells called hybrid photovoltaic cells (HPV). We will investigate the light absorption of the nanoparticles and nanowires by themselves and with the liquid crystal. We will also obtain the current produced in the presence and absence of light. The photocurrent generated in the system depends on the amount of light being absorbed, the index of refraction of the system, the electron-hole transfer mechanism, and the conductivity of the composite system. We will investigate the electrical (I-V curves) and optical properties (absorption, index of refraction) of the composite materials as functions of the diameter of the nanoparticles/nanowires, and the nanoparticle concentration.

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