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AME Research Opportunities

Research Opportunities in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering 

for Undergraduates 

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Using piezoelectric and pyroelectric crystals to directly convert motion and heat into electrical plasmas

Technical Objectives: The technical objective of this National Science Foundation sponsored project is to engineer devices and systems to harvest mechanical or thermal energy to directly produce an electric discharge or plasma. These plasmas can be used for applications such as water purification or pollution mitigation without the need for an electrical power supply. The key to this strategy is to utilize piezoelectric and pyroelectric crystals that can produce large voltages from vibrations or heat.

REU Role: The role of the REU is to help design, build, and test both the mechanical and thermal harvesting systems. They will work closely with a graduate student that is focused more on the plasma generation science, and have the opportunity to do experimental work, data analysis, and potentially some computational modeling.

Preferred discipline(s), expertise, lab skills, etc.: Any science and engineering discipline is acceptable, although those with a background in electrical engineering and mechanical engineering are preferred. Students interested in continuing the research throughout the school year will be given priority.

Contact: Associate Professor David B. Go, 140G McCourtney Hall, 574 631-8394 (dgo@nd.edu)
Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

Developing Ductile but Strong Films for Stretchable Electronics

In this project, students will design and fabricate a composite polymer films with PDMS and our special high strength fiber. This structure will be highly ductile but at the same time strong. Such a composite film will be integrated with electronics for stretchable electronics applications for applications like human skin sensors.

REU Role: The student will perform hands on research to fabricate such composite films and use equipment in the Materials Characterization Facility to measure the strength and fatigue.

Preferred discipline(s), expertise, lab skills, etc.: Mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, materials science. Prefer students with prior lab experience although it is not required.

Contact: Dorini Family Collegiate Chair in Engineering, Associate Professor, Tengfei Luo, 371 Fitzpatrick Hall, 574 631-9683 (tluo@nd.edu
Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

Nanoparticle Contrast Agents for Quantitative Molecular Imaging with CT

Roeder image2Technical Objectives: Molecular imaging with computed tomography (CT) could offer a single, low cost and widely available modality for combined molecular and anatomic imaging at high spatiotemporal resolution. Nanoparticles (NPs) comprising high-Z metals, such as Au, have gained recent interest as X-ray contrast agents due to enabling the delivery of a greater mass payload compared with molecular contrast agents used clinically. Concomitant developments in photon-counting spectral CT are also transforming the capabilities of CT by providing quantitative multi-material decomposition. Therefore, students on this project will investigate the design, synthesis, and application of NP contrast agents for quantitative molecular imaging with CT. Core-shell NPs are designed for strong X-ray contrast, biostability, multimodal/multi-agent imaging, and targeted delivery. Applications include quantitative molecular imaging of multiple probe/tissue compositions, specific cancer cell populations (e.g., HER2+ breast cancer cells, cancer stem cells, etc.), tumors, associated pathologies (e.g., microcalcifications), drug delivery, and biomaterial degradation using both conventional CT and photoncounting spectral CT. Students will also interact with collaborators at the IU School of Medicine in South Bend and/or the Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago.

Contact: Professor Ryan K. Roeder, 148 Multidisciplinary Research Building, 574 631-7003 (rroeder@nd.edu
)
Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

Phononic Nanoparticles for Low-Loss, Tunable Nanophotonics in the Mid- and Far-IR

hoffman imageTechnical Objectives: Phononic nanoparticles are a new class of optical materials with untapped potential for
realizing new mid- and far-infrared detection and sensing nanotechnologies that are functionally analogous to ultraviolet and near-infrared plasmonic nanotechnologies but with even greater sensitivity. Phononic nanotechnologies have potential application in analytical chemistry, biomedicine, environmental science, homeland security, astrophysics, and geology. However, basic scientific knowledge of the governing structure-property relationships for engineering the optical properties of phononic nanoparticles are not well understood or developed. Therefore, students on this project will investigate the optical properties of candidate phononic materials using both modeling and experimental characterization of synthesized nanoparticles. As such, this interdisciplinary research experience will cut across both materials science and optical science.

Contacts: Professor Anthony Hoffman, 226B Cushing Hall, 574 631-4103 (ajhoffman@nd.edu)
Department of Electrical Engineering

Professor Ryan K. Roeder, 148 Multidisciplinary Research Building, 574 631-7003 (rroeder@nd.edu
)
Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

Chemical Sensor for Fluid Dynamic and Environmental Applications

Technical Objectives: This project is an interdisciplinary topic on chemistry and fluid dynamics. A chemical
sensor gives luminescent output related to physical or chemical quantities, such as oxygen pressure, temperature, pH, oxygen, and carbon dioxide. It can be coated or sprayed onto a fluid dynamic or environmental object for testing. The sensor consists of a luminescent probe, porous material, polymer, and solvent. These components influence to the characteristic outputs of this sensor in terms of its signal level, signal sensitivity, and response time. It is desired to find the relationship among those components and
characteristic outputs to create an optimum sensor for various testing.

sakaue image

The expected and/or anticipated student involvement: A student will be involved in a chemical sensor development and its characterization using spectrometer and pressure/temperature-controlled device. The developed senor will be tested in a shock tube.

Preferred discipline, expertise, lab skills: A student from the following discipline is preferred: chemistry, chemical engineering, industrial engineering, mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering.

Contact: Associate Professor Hirotaka Sakaue, 106 Hessert Laboratory, 574 631-4336 (hsakaue@nd.edu)
Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

Engineering Biomimetic Materials to Control Stem Cell Morphogenesis

Technical Objectives: Blood and lymphatic vasculatures are two important components of the tumor microenvironments. Blood vessels supply nutrients important for tumor growth and serve as a conduit for hematogenous tumor spread, while the lymphatic vessels are used by the cancer cells to interact with the immune system as well as for lymphatic tumor metastasis. Consequently, the growth of blood and lymphatic vasculatures surrounding the tumor have been associated with tumor metastases and poor patient prognosis. The objective of this project is to understand what governs the formation of blood and lymphatic vessels from stem cells, how these processes are affected by the tumor microenvironment, and how we can use these insights to develop novel therapies.

The expected and/or anticipated student involvement: The REU student will synthesize and characterize biomaterials for in vitro evaluation using stem cell. Student is expected to maintain stem cell culture, study cell-materials interaction using microscopy and molecular biology techniques.

Preferred discipline, expertise, lab skills: Student with background in mechanical engineering, chemical/bio-engineering, material science, biochemistry is encouraged to apply. Prior lab experience is preferred.

Contact: Assistant Professor Donny Hanjaya-Putra, Ph.D., 141 Multidisciplinary Research Building (MRB), dputra1@nd.edu, Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

Therapeutic Cell Engineering with Synthetic Nanoparticles

Technical Objectives: Endothelial colony forming cells (ECFCs) are a population of rare stem cells identified from circulating adult and human cord blood. Due to their robust clonal proliferative potential and ability to form de novo blood vessel in vivo, ECFCs have been used in pre-clinical and clinical studies as a therapeutic candidate to treat peripheral artery disease (PAD) and critical limb ischemia (CLI). During the course of chronic diseases (e.g., cardiovascular diseases and diabetes) and aging, resident and circulating endothelial cells are subject to stress-induced premature dysfunction that limits their therapeutic use. The objective of this project is to utilize synthetic nanoparticle and surface cell engineering to improve therapeutic potential of ECFCs.

The expected and/or anticipated student involvement: The REU student will synthesize and characterize nanoparticles, as well as quantify drugs release. Student is expected to maintain stem cell culture, study cell-materials interaction using microscopy and molecular biology techniques.

Preferred discipline, expertise, lab skills: Student with background in mechanical engineering, chemical/bio-engineering, material science, biochemistry is encouraged to apply. Prior lab experience is preferred.

Contact: Assistant Professor Donny Hanjaya-Putra, Ph.D., 141 Multidisciplinary Research Building (MRB), dputra1@nd.edu, Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

Understanding Self-organized Pattern Formation in Low-temperature Plasma

Technical Objectives: The technical objective of this Naughton Fellowship is to understand the physical mechanism behind self-organized pattern formation in lowtemperature plasma. In short, when low temperature plasma is placed in contact with certain substrates, radially symmetric patterns of spots and rings appear on the surface. Co-PIs Rumbach and Go are developing a theoretical explanation of the patterns and need supportive experimental evidence.

Anticipated involvement of Student: The student will run the high voltage plasma and photograph the various patterns that form under various conditions. Images of the patterns will be analyzed by the student and compared to theory.

Preferred discipline, expertise, lab skills: Any science or engineering discipline is acceptable, but students with a background in electrical, aerospace, or mechanical engineering are preferred. The student must have experience constructing and testing electrical circuits. Experience with photography and Matlab is a plus.

Contact: Assistant Special Professional Faculty, Paul Rumbach, 300A Cushing Hall, , Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

When Shock-Waves and Nanoparticles Collide 

Graphic for When Shock-Waves and Nanoparticles Collide research project
Abstract: 
When a bubble rapidly collapses in solution it gives rise to a shock wave that influences its local environment. This so-called cavitation process can be detrimental to nearby metal surfaces as the cyclic stress caused by the repeated exposure to imploding bubbles can cause fatigue-related defects and failures. These same defects, however, can be highly beneficial when occurring in a metal nanostructure. This project, therefore, aims to demonstrate cavitation as a simple and inexpensive means for positively impacting the properties of metal nanoparticles dispersed in solution as well those that are immobilized on solid surfaces. Various aspects of the project include the (i) design, construction, and validation of an apparatus capable of producing collapsing cavitation bubbles, (ii) simulations of the cavitation process and its expected influence on metal nanoparticles, (iii) synthesis of nanoparticles, and (iv) characterization of nanostructures before and after their exposure to cavitation using scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy. 

Anticipated involvement of Student: The student working on this project will carry out the experimental aspects of this project by working in close collaboration with members of the Nanomaterial Fabrication Research Lab (Prof. Neretina) while computational work will be carried out at the Center for Shock-Wave Processing of Advanced Reactive Materials (C-SWARM, Prof. Matous).

Preferred discipline, expertise, lab skills: Design, Computation, Fluids, Materials

Supervisor: Professor Svetlana Neretina, 370 Fitzpatrick Hall, , Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
Co-Supervisor: Professor Karel Matous, 367 Fitzpatrick Hall, , Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

Designing an Optical Stage for the Light-Driven Synthesis of Nanomaterials

Schematic of an Optical Stage
Schematic of an Optical Stage
Technical Objectives: This research position will entail the design and implementation of research devices geared towards the development and improvement of nanomaterial manufacturing processes.  We are currently pioneering light-driven chemical syntheses for manufacturing nanomaterial-based high-sensitivity chemical and light sensors.  With recent successes, we are looking to build an optical stage to increase the capabilities of our process. The optical stage will include mounting options for a variety of optical filters, polarizers, and light sources. Additionally, it will include a spectrometer attachment to monitor the chemical growth process in real time. The objective over the course of the summer will be to design, machine, assemble, and test the device as an improvement to current lab equipment used for light-driven growth processes. The project will involve CAD design, material selection and analysis, and culminate in the machining of the device in the AME machine shop.

Anticipated involvement of Student: The undergraduate responsible for this project will work closely with Ph.D. students in the lab.

Preferred discipline, expertise, lab skills: Design, Machining, Materials.

Supervisor: Professor Svetlana Neretina370 Fitzpatrick Hall, Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

Designing a Cooling Stage for the Fabrication of Nanomaterials

Schematic of a Cooling Stage
Schematic of a Cooling Stage
Technical Objectives: Crystalline substrates are used to manufacture most of our nanomaterials, to provide a template for nanoparticles to align to. Currently we are able to achieve approximately 70% of oriented nanoparticles on a surface when heating and cooling in a tube furnace.  We are looking to create a cooling stage for a tube furnace to cool substrates from underneath during the cooling phase and force a higher percentage of nanoparticles to orient to the substrate.  This design will be completed by an undergraduate student with a working knowledge of heat transfer and mechanical design. The project will involve CAD design, material selection and analysis, thermal-fluid simulations in ANSYS and culminate in the machining of the device in the AME machine shop. 

Anticipated involvement of Student: The student responsible for the design will see the project through the testing phase, and upon successful completion, the device will be implemented into standard laboratory processes to improve the quality of produced nanomaterials. The undergraduate responsible for this project will work closely with Ph.D. students in the lab.

Preferred discipline, expertise, lab skills: Design, Machining, Heat Transfer, Materials.

Supervisor: Professor Svetlana Neretina370 Fitzpatrick Hall, Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering