Summer Scholar Suna Njie works with new technique in Strano Lab.
|Suna Njie is working this summer in the Strano Lab on graphene fibers under postdoctoral associate Pingwei Liu. Two days into her project, Njie grew graphene and put it into an etching solution. Here, she removes salt contaminant from the graphene film by soaking it in water. The next step will be to scroll the graphene into fiber, a new technique developed by Liu. Photo, Denis Paiste, Materials Processing Center|
Coming from a biology pre-med program at Alabama State University, junior Suna Njie wanted to try something new in her internship at MIT as an MPC-CMSE Summer Scholar. Her project on making graphene fibers in the Strano Lab is giving her just that opportunity.
“I chose this lab because it was different from what I have done before, however it is not too out of my comfort zone. This internship is about material science and engineering. I have never done anything in materials science, but here, I will be working with graphene to create fibers out that could possibly have biological implications. I could definitely use this in my future endeavors,” Njie says.
Njie hopes to pursue a joint M.D./PhD program after graduation. “When I enter an M.D./PhD program, I could use graphene in a project to further some technology in biology also, so it’s the best of both worlds,” she says.
|Close up of graphene film soaking in water to remove contaminants prior to scrolling the graphene into fiber. Photo, Denis Paiste, Materials Processing Center|
Working under postdoctoral associate Pingwei Liu, Njie is fabricating polymer/graphene composite films and will scroll it into fiber, using a technique that Liu developed, which is is in the process of publication. In this project, Njie will do more mechanical tests to study the detailed elongation and failure mechanism of these new fibers, and check the stiffness and toughness of the fiber and the effect of the graphene.
“I grew graphene with a chemical vapor deposition method yesterday, and I put it into the etching solution, and now I’m trying to rinse the film in clean water,” Njie explains, during one of her first days working in the lab. “...So, right now I’m just waiting, leaving it in water, and repeating the rinse, so we can get as much of the salt contaminant out, and then I’m going to scroll it into fiber, and then I’ll have fiber.”
Michael S. Strano, Carbon P. Dubbs Professor of Chemical Engineering, says of the summer internship program, “The MPC-CMSE scholars are an extremely impressive, carefully selected set of students who have performed marvelously in my lab over the years. Although only with us for eight weeks, these students very often end up publishing with us, and always bring new ideas and energy to our projects.”
MPC and CMSE sponsor the nine-week National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (NSF REU) internships with support from NSF’s Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers program (grant number DMR-14-19807). The program runs from June 7 through Aug. 6, 2016.
– Denis Paiste, Materials Processing Center
June 29, 2016