Student Research: VIPER Class of '18

Rabeel Jawaid: Rabeel spent the summer addressing problems introduced by the process of cathode infiltration in Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC). The task of completing eight cycles of infiltration was necessary to significantly improve SOFC performance, but required many hours of labor. Working alongside his supervisor Yuan Cheng in the lab of Profs. Raymond Gorte and John Vohs in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Rabeel used a LSF-YSZ scaffold for the cathode instead of a pure YSZ scaffold. This modification required only two cycles of infiltration to maintain the performance standards that were achieved with eight cycles of infiltration.

Radhika Katti: Radhika worked in the lab of Prof. Andrew Rappe in the Department of Chemistry, researching the hybrid perovskite, a very promising material for photovoltaics. Her focus, out of all the organometallic hybrid perovskites, was methylammonium lead iodide, which offers many advantages but degrades completely in the presence of water, a drawback which makes the material unusable commercially. Radhika's group is working to better understand why this degradation occurs in the form of a degradation mechanism. By first creating structures and placing water molecules strategically on the surface of the system, and then increasing the number of water molecules gradually (from one to four molecules), her group used Density Functional Theory (DFT) to calculate the energies of the structures. The group also studied various concentrations of water inside the material, using DFT to calculate the optimized energies.

Nadia Kreciglowa: This summer, Nadia conducted research in Prof. Dan Gianola's lab in the Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering. She researched a new technique using the scanning electron microscope, called Transmission Kikuchi Diffraction (TKD), which is similar to Electron Backscatter Kikuchi (EBSD). In TKD, a very thin sample is introduced into the scanning electron microscope at a 25 degree angle, and the electron beam travels through it. The electroncs are then captured on an EBSD camera and the crystal orientations of the grains can be mapped. TKD is similar to EBSD, except in TKD, the sample is much thinner and the mapping is at a higher resolution, and in EBSD, the sample is tilted at 45 degrees, and the electron beam does not go through the sample. Nadia designed a TKD holder and began testing the exact resolution of TKD.

Drew Lilley: Drew's research in Dr. Igor Bargatin's group, in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, has focused on the optimization of isotropic geometries for maximum flexural stiffness in single and dual layered nanostructures. To optimize the structures, he uses COMSOL multiphysics, a Finite Element Meshing software, to simulate the bending behavior of infinite 3D lattices of a given geometry. The optimized structures are candidates for implementation in various applications, including Thermal switches (see VIPER student Eric Lu's research), Thermionic Energy Converters, and Micron-sized flying robots.

Trisha Ramadoss: Trisha spent her summer working in photonics research, in the lab of Prof. Nader Engheta in the Dept. of Electrical and Systems Engineering. Her research involved the fabrication of waveguides for optical frequencies. Waveguides can trap and guide light in much the same way that wires can trap and guide electricity. Thus, it is possible that waveguides can be integrated into photonic circuits in order to build even faster and more powerful electronics. This has applications to energy science, in that waveguides have the potential to vastly improve the efficiency of electronics and computation.