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The properties of crystals are strongly dependent on their microstructure. For example, their strength, their conductivity, and their ability to capture sunlight depend strongly on the size and shape of the crystalline grains within them. Our control of microstructure (and our understanding of its influence on properties) is still far from optimal.

We hypothesize that these limitations can be overcome by a bottom-up self-assembly approach. The student will synthesize colloidal nanocrystals, self-assemble them in ordered arrays, and process them with carefully designed plasmas. The objective is to create the “perfect” polycrystal (in our case for wear-resistance applications) possessing grains of identical size, shape and chemical composition.

The group policy is that UG students should be exposed to all the realities of research work. Therefore, the student will be involved in the weekly brainstorming sessions and will be active part of the experimental design.

Program Mentor: Ludovico Cadementari, assistant professor, Materials Science and Engineering, Iowa State University

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