|Lucia Brunel uses an active microrheology, optical tweezer setup in the MIT Bioinstrumentation Lab during her 2017 Summer Scholar internship at MIT under Professors Gareth McKinley and Katharina Ribbeck. Photo, Denis Paiste, MIT MRL.|
2017 Summer Scholar Lucia Brunel is one of 43 outstanding American undergraduate students selected as Marshall Scholars for up to three years of study at leading British universities in a wide variety of disciplines beginning in September 2018.
During summer 2017, Brunel interned at MIT, where she worked on a joint project under Professors Gareth McKinley and Katharina Ribbeck. “My research project as a Summer Scholar was an investigation of the self-healing behavior of certain biological gels. This project was a great opportunity for me to participate in interdisciplinary materials science research with both mechanical and biological engineering components,” Brunel says.
"The whole lab was so excited to hear the great news,” says MIT graduate student Caroline Wagner, who supervised Brunel’s internship. “I had such a good time working with Lucia through the Summer Scholars program, and I wish her all the best in her future studies."
Brunel plans to study materials science at Cambridge University after she graduates from Northwestern University in June 2018 with both B.S. and M.S. degrees in Chemical and Biological Engineering. Brunel plans to work in the laboratory of Cambridge Centre for Medical Materials Co-Directors and Professors Ruth Cameron and Serena Best, whose research aims to improve performance of biopolymer scaffolds for tissue engineering. “My work in particular will focus on chemically modifying collagen-based scaffolds to achieve more selective and controllable cell affinity that can be tailored for the type of tissue that must be regenerated,” Brunel explains. Brunel previously received a Goldwater Scholarship, which supports students in science, mathematics, and engineering.
“My materials science research experience at MIT taught me many of the material characterization skills that I will utilize at the University of Cambridge,” says Brunel, who intends to pursue a PhD in the U.S. in the area of biomaterials after her Marshall Scholar program. Three MIT seniors also were named 2018 Marshall Scholars.
The Materials Research Laboratory sponsors the Summer Research Internship Program through the NSF REU program. Brunel participated through the former Materials Processing Center and Center for Materials Science and Engineering, which merged in October 2017 to form the Materials Research Laboratory at MIT.
The Summer Scholars program started in 1983, and has brought hundreds of the best science and engineering undergraduates in the country to MIT for graduate-level materials research. A wide range of project areas is available. Applications for summer 2018 must be submitted by Feb. 16, 2018.
– Materials Research Laboratory
December 5, 2017
The Materials Research Laboratory sponsors a Summer Research Internship Program through the NSF REU program.
The program started in 1983, and has brought hundreds of the best science and engineering undergraduates in the country to MIT for graduate-level materials research. A wide range of project areas are available. The application must be submitted by February 16, 2018.
Projects available vary from year to year. Interns select their own projects based on presentations from faculty given the first few days of the program.
2017 Materials Processing Center – Center for Materials Science and Engineering [MPC-CMSE] Summer Scholar Grace Noel explored the process of making and characterizing perovskite crystal materials for possible solar cell use in the lab of William A. Tisdale, ARCO Career Development Professor of chemical engineering. Noel synthesizes these lead bromide perovskite materials with different cations, including methyl ammonium, cesium and formamidinium.
“By changing the cation, you can change the properties of the perovskite,” Noel explains. “The word perovskite refers to a class of semiconductors that have a specific crystal structure, and they're an interesting area of research with applications in photovoltaics.”
MIT chemical engineering graduate student Nabeel Dahod, who studies thermal transport in nanostructured materials for his thesis project, is supervising Noel’s work in the Tisdale Lab. “Perovskites are a particularly new and exciting material with at this point undiscovered thermal transport properties, and this is where Grace's project this summer comes in,” Dahod says.
During a visit to the lab, Dahod and Noel demonstrate how these crystals are dried with a vacuum after wet synthesis. Noel explains that she caps her wet solution with tinfoil, perforated with a small hole in it, to slow the diffusion process. Dahod cautions Noel to set up a trap along with the vacuum so solvent vapors don’t harm the pump. Dahod prompts Noel to make sure the vacuum tube is firmly attached in order to be able pull vacuum through into the funnel.
Noel tests the vacuum process to make sure it is pulling out solvent using a pipette, which extracts a small volume. Noting that not all of the solid crystals made it into the filter, Dahod suggests scraping out the rest. Noel asks whether she should be worried about breaking any of the crystals. “No it's okay. They're pretty robust,” Dahod reassures. “Make sure to get as many of the orange ones as you can.”
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At a separate workbench, Noel displays formamidinium single crystals and methylammonium single crystals, which have crystallized for about four days. Noel observes that the methylammonium single crystals are slightly larger and that there is a color difference between the two. “The formamidinium are more red in color,” says Noel, who is a rising senior at Penn State University, where she majors in chemical engineering.
“My project is synthesizing these different perovskites in the two different forms, which are single crystals and microplates,” Noel explains. “Basically the single crystals are crystals that are millimeters in size, whereas the microplates are a lot smaller, so they're more like microns in size. But they should exhibit similar properties to the single crystals. This is advantageous because the single crystals have properties that aren't disturbed by things like defects in the material or grain boundaries. So we have the three different types of microplates with the different cations, and we want to see how the thermal properties of them change based on their composition.”
In CMSE’s Shared Experimental Facilities, Noel analyzes scanning electron microscope [SEM] images of the microplates. Speaking about images on a computer monitor, she notes, “These ones are formamidinium lead bromide perovskites, and they form these little plates that are about 1 to 3 microns. So I'm looking at the microplates to see the different sizes that they are, and looking to see if there are any defects or impurities.”
Noel’s internship is supported in part by NSF’s Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers program [grant DMR-14-19807]. Participants in the Research Experience for Undergraduates, co-sponsored by the Materials Processing Center and the Center for Materials Science and Engineering, presented their results at a poster session during the last week of the program. The program ran from June 15, 2017, to August 5, 2017, on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Mass.
– Denis Paiste, Materials Processing Center
September 25, 2017
MIT Professor Paula T. Hammond’s lab is developing nanomaterials for a wide range of applications ranging from treatment of diseases to regenerative medicine. Hammond is head of the Department of Chemical Engineering and David H. Koch (1962) Professor in Engineering. Materials Processing Center – Center for Materials Science and Engineering [MPC-CMSE] Summer Scholar Amrita [Amy] Duggal assessed the utility of a synthetic proteoglycan developed in the Hammond Lab for biomaterial applications.
Duggal, a biochemistry major from California State University, Channel Islands, says, “My research is based on looking at cellular response as well as cell behavior in presence of the biopolymer.”
MIT Chemistry PhD student Wade Wang supervised Duggal’s work in the lab. “Amy's project is really foundational in looking at the interaction of this new polymer that we've developed in the lab. So we want to characterize exactly how this polymer interacts with cells so we can develop new biomaterials based on this polymer,” Wang explains. Wang previously synthesized graft copolymers of poly(γ-propargyl-L-glutamate) [PPLG], a synthetic polypeptide, and hyaluronic acid [HA], an ubiquitous polysaccharide in the body. Cellular interactions with HA are dependent on it size, so by changing the structure of the graft copolymer containing HA the cellular response can be controlled.
Duggal utilized the scratch test, a cell migration assay commonly used in cancer and wound healing studies, to carry out her project. “Cell migration is an important phenomenon when you're trying to study development, maintenance, as well as metastasis and invasion, in cancer cell lines,” Duggal explains.
“Once these cells are scratched…they are treated with the biopolymer treatment,” Duggal notes. The rate and extent of migration, which contribute to “healing” of the scratch, can be promoted or inhibited by PPLG-HA biopolymer treatment. This response is affected by the architecture and molecular weight the biopolymers, which Duggal is interested in optimizing for wound healing applications.
|MPC-CMSE Summer Scholar Amrita [Amy] Duggal uses a microscope to visualize cell migration in the Hammond Lab. Duggal’s summer internship project studied the effect of a synthetic biopolymer developed in the Hammond Lab on cells that are intentionally damaged to mimic wounds and cancer in people. Photo, Denis Paiste, Materials Processing Center.|
“Once the biopolymeric treatment is added to the cell culture, we can visualize whether the biopolymer treatment inhibits or promotes wound healing in these cells,” Duggal says.
During a visit to the lab, Duggal shows images of the cells she recently scratched and treated with biopolymer to study cell migration. “We use the microscope to visualize and understand cell migration,” Duggal notes. The extent of healing and persistence of damage are apparent from the images. After the damaged cells are treated with the biopolymer and incubated for 8 to 12 hours, visual confirmation is apparent that the gap in those cells has closed significantly. “There seems to be cell migration and wound healing to a certain extent,” she says.
In addition to imaging, Duggal further assessed cellular response to the biopolymer with chemical assays for cellular proliferation. This is important because wound healing is a combination of many cellular behaviors, including migration and proliferation. In particular, Duggal uses BRDU [BromodeoxyUridine], a synthetic nucleoside, as a marker to quantify cell growth.
Duggal’s internship is supported in part by NSF’s Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers program [grant DMR-14-19807]. Participants in the Research Experience for Undergraduates, co-sponsored by the Materials Processing Center and the Center for Materials Science and Engineering, presented their results at a poster session during the last week of the program. The program ran from June 15, 2017, to August 5, 2017, on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Mass.
– Denis Paiste, Materials Processing Center
September 25, 2017
|MPC-CMSE Summer Scholar Amrita [Amy] Duggal presents her research on the effect of a synthetic biopolymer developed in the Hammond Lab on cells that are intentionally damaged to mimic wounds and cancer in people during the annual MPC-CMSE Summer Scholars Poster Session on Aug. 3, 2017. Photo, Denis Paiste, Materials Processing Center.|
Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering Luqiao Liu is developing new magnetic materials known as antiferromagnets, such as manganese gallium samples, that can be operated at room temperature by reversing their electron spin and can serve as the basis for long lasting, spintronic computer memory. Materials Processing Center – Center for Materials Science and Engineering [MPC-CMSE] Summer Scholar Stephanie Bauman spent her internship making and testing these new materials.
Bauman, a University of South Florida physics major, says, “In our project we're working on the area of spintronics, anti-ferromagnetic devices that switch electron spin controlled by a current. I'm working with a lot of new equipment like the vibrating sample magnetometer and the sputterer to lay down thin films.”
“I’ve been working on a daily basis with Joe Finley, who is a graduate student here, and he’s been a explaining a lot of things to me,” Bauman notes. “It’s a very dense subject matter. And he does help me out a lot when we go to things like the X-ray diffraction room, and he shows me how the graphs can interpret how thick each layer of the thin layers of the devices are. He’s really helpful and easy to work with.”
During a visit to the lab, where she synthesizes these thin films with a special machine called a sputter deposition chamber, Bauman says, “I always go back to the checklist just to make sure I'm doing everything in the right order.” In order to take out a sample from the machine she has to follow a complicated set of steps, making sure its parts are correctly lined up and unhooking the sample holder in the main chamber. Because the chamber is pressurized, she must bring it back to everyday atmospheric pressure before taking it out. “Now that I can see that it disengaged, I go ahead and move it all the way back up,” she says. With the sample holder on a moveable arm, she can rotate it out.
|2017 MPC-CMSE Summer Scholar Stephanie Bauman holds a sample of manganese gallium, a new material known as an antiferromagnet, that can serve as the basis for long lasting, spintronic computer memory devices operated by reversing electron spin at room temperature. She interned this summer in the lab of Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering Luqiao Liu. Photo, Denis Paiste, Materials Processing Center.|
The sample moves across a gear arm out of the main chamber into transfer chamber known as a load lock. “A very, very important part of this is to make sure you close the transfer valve again, otherwise you mess up the pressure in the main chamber,” she says. After double-checking the transfer valve is closed, she brings the load lock back to sea level pressure of 760 Torr. Then she takes out the sample holder.
“As you can see the sample is really tiny. It's half a centimeter by a half a centimeter, which is what we're working with right now,” Bauman says. As she loosens the screws on the arms holding the sample in place, she notes that she has to be careful not to scratch the sample with the arms. Once safely removed, she places the sample in a special holder labeled based on when each sample was made, which sample of the day it is and its thickness. That way, she notes, “we can refer back to that in our data so that we know what thickness levels that we’re testing.”
“Sometimes you end up playing tiddlywinks. I know that some younger people don't really know what that game is, but it's what it looks like when you push down on the arm, and the sample goes flying,” Bauman cautions.
Bauman then demonstrates how a new sample is loaded into the sputterer device. “Carefully tighten the screw, making sure not to torque it too much, then you move the other arm into place,” she says. Once both arms are tightened on the sample holder, she can put the sample into the load lock. “Very simple just make sure it's lined up correctly. It's also important to make sure the O-ring is clean, and so is the lid before you put it back on. That way there's a very good seal. So that's really it for the loading, and then you just turn the vacuum pumps back on and wait until it reaches the appropriate pressure and then load it into the main chamber.”
“I'm actually a non-traditional student, which means I'm a little bit older,” Bauman explains. “I have been in the military for 20 years, and I also had a civilian career for a long time in aviation contracts. I decided to go back to school for physics, and it's really been rewarding, especially this internship.”
Bauman’s internship is supported in part by NSF’s Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers program [grant DMR-14-19807]. Participants in the Research Experience for Undergraduates, co-sponsored by the Materials Processing Center and the Center for Materials Science and Engineering, presented their results at a poster session during the last week of the program. The program ran from June 15, 2017, to August 5, 2017, on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Mass.
– Denis Paiste, Materials Processing Center
Sept. 25, 2017
|2017 MPC-CMSE Summer Scholar Stephanie Bauman presents her poster on her internship in the lab of Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering Luqiao Liu making and testing new materials known as antiferromagnets, such as manganese gallium, that can serve as the basis for long lasting, spintronic computer memory devices operated by reversing their electron spin at room temperature. Photo, Denis Paiste, Materials Processing Center.|