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AME Research Opportunities

Research Opportunities in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering 

for Undergraduates 

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Highway Throughput Spray Coating of Membranes for Applications in Desalination and Waste Chemical Recovery

Technical Objectives: Optimize and characterize a new spray coating system developed in the SST Research Lab for the high throughput processing of membranes. We have developed a piezoelectric-based spray system and developed a high throughput coating system for membranes. This research will focus on optimizing the process conditions (spray rate and duration, number of coatings, solution chemistry).

REU Role: Conduct spray experiments and membrane characterization and draw conclusions about optimal manufacturing process in collaboration with graduate student or post-doc.

Preferred discipline(s), expertise, lab skills, etc.: Any science and engineering discipline is acceptable, although those with a background in chemistry and/or electrical engineering are preferred. Student must be willing to work primarily on experiments in a very detailed and systematic manner.

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

Electrical Characterization of Plasma Behavior in Catalyst Systems

Technical Objectives: Characterize plasma behavior in catalyst systems using various electrical measurements. Catalyst systems such as those used for the production of synthetic gas from methane and carbon dioxide or ammonia from nitrogen and hydrogen can be enhanced by a plasma (gas discharge). This research will focus on understanding this enhancement at a fundamental level by correlating electrical behavior in the plasma to catalysis enhancement.

REU Role: Conduct plasma experiments under different conditions and take electrical measurements of the plasma behavior in collaboration with a graduate student or post-doc.

Preferred discipline(s), expertise, lab skills, etc.: Any science and engineering discipline is acceptable, although those with a background in electrical or chemical engineering are preferred. Student must be willing to work primarily on experiments in a very detailed and systematic manner.

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

Optical Characterization of Plasma Behavior in Catalyst Systems

Technical Objectives: Characterize plasma behavior in catalyst systems using an optical technique called optical emission spectroscopy. Catalyst systems such as those used for the production of synthetic gas from methane and carbon dioxide or ammonia from nitrogen and hydrogen can be enhanced by a plasma (gas discharge). This research will focus on understanding this enhancement at a fundamental level by correlating the light produced by the plasma to catalysis enhancement.

REU Role: Conduct plasma experiments under different conditions and take optical measurements of the plasma behavior in collaboration with a graduate student or post-doc.

Preferred discipline(s), expertise, lab skills, etc.: Any science and engineering discipline is acceptable, although those with a background in electrical or chemical engineering are preferred. Student must be willing to work primarily on experiments in a very detailed and systematic manner.

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

Custom‐Built Reaction Chambers and In Situ Monitoring Tools

Neretina imageLab: Nanomaterial Fabrication Research Lab

https://ame.nd.edu/research/faculty-research-labs/neretina

The reactions carried out in a liquid media have, thus far, been performed in either a three neck flask or a beaker.
The goal, however, is to veer away from the use of standard glassware and, instead, carry out syntheses in enclosed reaction chambers which offer a more controlled reaction environment, versatility and in situ diagnostics. The final system will be able to: (i) flow a series of reactants into and out of a reaction chamber using syringe pumps without ever exposing the structures to air, (ii) heat an anchored substrate as well as the surrounding liquids, and (iii) perform a sparging procedure prior to reactions involving easily oxidized metals. The system will use a Teflon‐based reaction vessel instead of glassware because Teflon provides both chemical compatibility with the reactions being performed and machinability. The later property is crucial in that it allows for the use of O‐ring seals, threaded connectors and internal components with more complex geometries (e.g. a substrate holder).

An REU student will work under the supervision of Dr. Svetlana Neretina and her graduate students.

Preferred disciplines, mechanical engineering, chemistry, chemical engineering, materials science and machining

Contact: Associate Professor Svetlana Neretina, 370 Fitzpatrick Hall, 574 631-6127 (sneretina@nd.edu)
Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

Fabrication of Polymer Nanofibers with Anomalous Thermal Conductivity

Amorphous polymers are known as thermal insulators with a thermal conductivity of ~0.1-0.3 W/mK. However, they can be more thermally conductive than many metals if we can reform them into highly aligned nanofibers (thermal conductivity > 50 W/mK). This suggests that polymers can be used to replace metals in many heat transfer devices and equipment, such as in electronic packaging and heat exchangers, with the additional advantages of reduced weight, chemical resistance, and lower cost. In this project, undergraduate researchers will fabricate polymer fibers with nanometer diameters by ultra-drawing fibers from polymer melt. They will also characterize the nanofibers using electron microscopes, X-ray scattering and measure thermal transport properties using scanning thermal microscopy.

Atomic structure of a chain of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), a silicon-based polymer widely used in thermal management, which is a key issue in microelectronics. (inset: a fundamental unit consisting of PDMS chain.)

Contact: Assistant Professor Tengfei Luo, 371 Fitzpatrick Hall, 574 631-9683 (tluo@nd.edu
)
Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

Rabbit Ulnar Loading as an in vivo Model of Microdamage
Accumulation and Fatigue Fracture

roeder image1Technical Objectives: Long-term use of bisphosphonates for the treatment of osteoporosis has been associated with an increased risk of ‘atypical’ fractures in cortical bone. These fractures appear to have characteristics of unhealed fatigue fractures, but the underlying mechanism remains poorly understood because they cannot be studied in human subjects and there is currently no translatable animal model. Therefore, students on this project will investigate a rabbit ulnar loading model for microdamage accumulation and fatigue fracture. Students with a background in mechanical and/or biomedical engineering are preferred.

Contact: Professor Ryan K. Roeder, 148 Multidisciplinary Research Building, 574 631-7003 (rroeder@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

Development of Computational Benchmarks for Inertial Confinement Fusion Simulations

Technical Objectives: Large computer codes are used to design experiments and diagnose measurements at high-energy density facilities, such as the National Ignition Facility. There is still a lack of benchmark calculations to verify these codes in many aspects. This work will develop novel semi-analytic solutions to the radiative transfer equations in the x-ray regime and compare existing code calculations to these benchmarks.

The expected and/or anticipated student involvement: The student will perform calculations and derivations of new semi-analytic solutions. The expectation is that a paper will be prepared or nearly completed during the program.

Preferred discipline, expertise, lab skills: Discipline is open; a knowledge of differential equations is essential, Mathematica and integral transform knowledge is a plus, but not necessary.

Contact: Associate Professor Ryan G. McClarren, 368 Fitzpatrick Hall, rmcclarr@nd.edu
Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

Acceleration of Remote Sensing Calculations using Machine Learning

Technical Objectives: In computing the response of a detector (i.e., imaging system, camera, radiation detector) to a known source, the Monte Carlo method is often used to simulate the propagation of particles (photons, neutrons, etc.) from the source to the detector. Monte Carlo calculations can be accelerated when there is a reasonable estimate of how particles will move in the problem. This research will use neural networks and reinforcement learning to on-the-fly improve Monte Carlo calculations.

The expected and/or anticipated student involvement: The student will develop a machine learning algorithms to estimate the behavior of physical particles in a problem. This will involve computer programming and high-performance computing.

Preferred discipline, expertise, lab skills: Discipline is open; computer programming experience is required, Python is a plus.

Contact: Associate Professor Ryan G. McClarren, 368 Fitzpatrick Hall, rmcclarr@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