Exploration of multi-block polymer morphologies using high performance computing

Modern material design increasingly relies on controlling small scale morphologies. Multi-block polymers are well suited to this as they can provide highly tunable structures with applications ranging from structural materials to specialized uses such as fuel cells and separation membranes. Several unique microstructures can be formed from even a two component, diblock, polymer. Systems with more components present a much richer array of morphologies, allowing even more control over properties.

Organic light-emitting diodes

The goal of the SULI project will be to model and understand the physics underlying organic semiconductor light emitting devices (OLEDs) that are being fabricated within the Photonic Systems FWP. We will develop a novel Monte-Carlo approach to model the transport and recombination of holes and electrons in these devices, that results in the emission of light. Experimentally determined motilities of electrons and holes will be utilized.

Molecular Dyanmics Simulations

There are two projects, both of them computational. The student will learn the basics of Molecular Dynamics simulations and then will be able perform simulations of polymers interacting with nanoparticles that are functionalized with DNA(project2) or investigate how proteins interact with other proteins as well with phospholipids (project 2). If the student works efficiently, it may result in a publication on a refereed journal. Besides, he/she will be exposed to the materials and methods needed to understand the nano-world.

Fabricating photonic crystal grating coupler for waveguides

Polymer gratings can efficiently couple a light into waveguides. Their coupling efficiencies strongly depends on their dimensions and refractive indices. The 1st order diffraction is used for coupling light into waveguides when the incidence angle of incoming light is matched for waveguiding.  However, the guided intensity is weak compared to the incoming light intensity and needs to be improved.

Experimental study of novel thermoelectric materials

Thermoelectric materials enable direct conversion of heat to electricity using the Seebeck effect, a fundamental phenomenon demonstrating that motion of mobile charge carriers initiated by a temperature difference along the material results in appearance of electric field. The goal of this research is to better understand the Seebeck effect in various materials, mostly complex tellurides, and design more efficient thermoelectric materials. 

Multi-scale framework for the accelerated design of high-efficiency organic photovoltaic cells

Organic and hybrid organic/inorganic solar cells (OSC) offer a promising low-cost strategy for harnessing solar energy. OSC technology incorporates the advantages of facile fabrication suitable for roll-to-roll processing, compatibility with flexible substrates, high optical absorption, low-temperature processing, and easy tunability by chemical doping. These devices are fabricated by spin coating the active layer from a blend of p-type photoactive polymer and n-type derivatives of fullerenes in the so called “blend-heterojunction,” architecture.

Building a UV Differential Interference Contrast (DIC) Microscope

We propose to modify a commercial DIC microscope for operation in the deep UV region (e.g., 254 nm). At these shorter wavelengths, the diffraction limit is already half of that in the visible region. One would expect the resolvable dimensions to be proportionally smaller. More importantly, UV light approaches the absorption bands of most common chemical species. The well-known Kramers-Kronig relationship predicts that the refractive index of the species will increase substantially near an absorption band.

Mesoporous Silica Nanoparticles

The student will use modern quantum chemistry techniques to study mesoporous silica nanoparticles, in collaboration with Ames Laboratory experimental groups.

Mentor: Mark Gordon, Ames Laboratory Associate and Distinguished Professor, Iowa State University

Alloy Design and Optimization

Energetic calculation is one of the most important tools used in alloy design and optimization. The computations based on energetics for both equilibrium and non-equilibrium phase transformations will be used to develop new alloys and processing. Students will use thermodynamic theory to describe the properties of alloys. The internship will include calculation program development for ternary or multi-component systems using C++.

Mentor: Shihuai Zhou, Assistant Scientist III, Ames Laboratory