The Nebraska Nanoscale Facility (NNF) is a member of the NSF-funded National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NNCI) program which includes 16 major research centers in nanomaterials throughout the US. NNF, with support from the Nebraska Center for Materials and Nanoscience (NCMN) provides researchers from academia, government, and industry access to facilities with leading-edge instrumentation which enables innovations, discoveries, and contributions to education and commerce.
NNF offers a 10-week summer fellowship that provides undergraduate students with an opportunity for interdisciplinary research in a nanoscale science or engineering laboratory on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus. The Nebraska Nanoscale Facility summer research REU includes faculty mentors from the following university departments: Physics, Mechanical & Materials Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Civil Engineering and Chemical Engineering. The fellowships will carry a $4,500 stipend for ten weeks of research.
Competitive stipend: $4,500
Suite-style room and meal plan
Travel expenses to and from Lincoln
Campus parking and/or bus pass
Full access to the Campus Recreation Center and campus library system
We investigate the effects of very high frequency sound waves, oscillating at 100 million times a second, on thin film magnetic materials. The stress and strain caused by these sound waves has numerous unexpected effects. They can rotate the direction of magnetization, they can move domain walls and they can change fundamental properties of the magnetic materials.
Dr. Christos Argyropoulos
Electrical & Computer Engineering
Modeling the electromagnetic response of new nanomaterials and novel nanophotonic devices
During this project, you will be able to theoretically explore how new nanomaterials and nanophotonic devices interact with light, which is an electromagnetic wave. You will learn the fundamentals of electromagnetic theory and apply your knowledge using an in-house computer-based electromagnetic simulation software. The proposed work will lead to improved understanding of light-matter interaction at nanoscale regions. New nanomaterials are envisioned to be the building blocks of exciting new nanophotonic devices and their modeling and optimization will lead one step closer to their practical realization.
Dr. Shudipto Konika Dishari
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Nanoscale architecture of ionomeric materials and its connection with small molecule/ion transport
The understanding of novel phenomena in polymeric materials at nanoscale can lead to revolutionary materials, devices and structures. Ion containing polymers (or ionomers) are integral part of many renewable energy (e.g. fuel cell, lithium ion or redox flow batteries, supercapacitors etc.) and biomedical (bioseparation, biosensing) applications. Nanoscale thick films of ionomers behave distinctly differently from their bulk counterparts (micron scale materials) due to the interfacial phenomena and confinement. The interesting morphology, structure, optical and mechanical properties of the nanothin ionomer films make the materials ideal for selective diffusion of small molecules, water and ions. The goal of this work is to explore the role of ion channel and porosity (with random and artificially developed pores) on the hydration behavior and water and ion conduction of sub-micron thick ionomer films.
The selected student will be paired with a graduate student to explore the structure-property relationship of an array of ionomers with molecular level designed pores as a function of material dimensions and concentration of plasticizer molecules added to it. The ionomer, substrate and plasticizer interactions will be closely observed using a number of analytical techniques studying ion conductivity, mechanical rigidity, molecular ordering. Taking the advantage of NCMN/NNF central research facilities along with PI’s lab facilities, the proposed work will reveal the nanoscale ion conduction phenomena and their connection to molecular self-assembly, porosity and ion channel geometry. The studied materials will find applications as ionomer-catalyst layers for electrochemical reactions in fuel cells and functional separating layers in membranes used for waste water treatment systems.
Dr. Peter A. Dowben
Physics and Astronomy
Organic heterostructures can be made that have similar functionality to oxide and semiconductor devices
This project will focus magneto-electric organic or hybrid organic & inorganic heterostructures. The hybrid nanostructures will be characterized by electron spectroscopies and luminescence. The goals are classes of devices suitable as reactive luminescence chemical sensors, or devices that could exhibit unusual behavior is an electro-magnetic field.
Dr. Srivatsan Kidambi
Biomimetic Cellular Tissue Models of Disease Progression
Engineering in vitro models that reproduce tissue microenvironment and mimic functions and responses of tissues that is more physiologically relevant represents a potential bridge to cover the gap between animal models and clinical studies. In this project we will engineer in vitro models of tissues including cancer, liver, and brain in an effort to understand the role of the tissue microenvironment (physical attributes, cell-cell communication, and ligand density) on the underlying biology of healthy and diseased tissues. These platforms provide an ideal model to delineate the critical but unexplored areas of tissue microenvironment in which the cells reside. Specifically, we have developed matrix-based platforms that recreate the various components of the tissue microenvironment. These components include controlling the cell-cell interactions using patterned co-cultures and recreating the mechanical properties of tissues to provide a snapshot of physiologically relevant stages of the tissues in healthy and disease state. Since tissue function is highly dependent on architecture, we have also used microfabrication methods, such as photolithography and molding, to regulate the architecture of these platforms. Using this strategy we have developed in situ models of breast cancer, liver, and brain. The technologies developed in in our lab will have tremendous potential applications in the treatment of various diseases including cancer, liver fibrosis, traumatic brain injury, and development of several classes of therapeutic compounds (drugs, biologics).
Fundamentals and Applications of Laser Spectroscopy
The project is to offer a 10-week summer fellowship that provides undergraduate students with an opportunity for study of multiple laser-based spectroscopic technologies available in Laser Assisted Nano Engineering Lab (LANE) at UNL. It includes laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS), Raman spectroscopy, and multifunctional coherent anti-Stokes Raman (CARS) imaging. LIBS can be used for analysis of trace contaminants/impurities in solid samples with a detection limit to ppm level. CARS microscopy can visualize living cells/tissues with contrast of different vibrational modes, for example the CH group of stretching vibrations (lipids). Raman spectroscopy can allow simultaneous analysis of the sample structure and chemical composition based on the unique molecular vibration modes. Through this project, the students are expected to have hand-on experience and a basic understanding of laser-based spectroscopic technologies.
Dr. Sangjin Ryu
Mechanical and Materials Engineering
Microscale characterization of liquid drop coalescence in narrow confinements
The goal of the project is to understand confinement effects on microscale liquid drop coalescence using Hele-Shaw geometry and high-speed imaging, and to provide fundamental understanding of microscale interfacial fluid dynamics occurring in various porous network media. Although various natural and engineering systems have diverse porous networks through which multiphase fluids flow (e.g., microfluidic channel network), little is known how such confinements affect the interfacial behaviors of the flow, especially liquid drop coalescence. To answer this question, the project employs the Hele-Shaw geometry as a simplified confinement and characterizes drop coalescence on a microscale experimentally. A REU student will participate in improving the current Hele-Shaw setup, imaging drop coalescence using high-speed microscopy, and analyzing the phenomenon using image processing.
Ferromagnetic materials exhibit spontaneous magnetic moments, which normally has certain favorable orientations called magnetic anisotropy. Magnetic anisotropy depends on the crystal structure of the magnetic materials, which offers a route to controlling magnetic properties using strain in epitaxial thin films.
Magneto optical Kerr effect (MOKE) is a rotation of light polarization after reflection from a magnetic material. It can be employed to study the magnetic properties of materials, especially thin films, due to the surface sensitivity.
In this project, the undergraduate student will learn and carry out study on the magnetic anisotropy of thin film materials using MOKE. As the part of the magnetic characterization, the overarching goal of the project is to realize active control of magnetic anisotropy in epitaxial thin films using the strain of the substrates.
Figure 1. Schematics of the magneto optical Kerr effect (MOKE). The polarization of the light is rotated after the light is bounced off the surface of the magnetic material, depending on the magnetization. The magnetic anisotropy can be measured using the dependence of MOKE on the magnetic field along different directions.
Dr. Ruiguo Yang
Mechanical and Materials Engineering
Engineered 3D Nanoscaffolds for Cellular Interrogation
Physical and mechanical interactions govern biological systems at the molecular, cellular and tissue levels. The fundamental mechanisms of these interactions converge on mechanobiology, an emerging field of scientific inquisition at the intersection of physics, engineering and biology. At the cellular level, mechanical interaction regulates every facet of the cell cycle. Modulating cellular micro-environment has been regarded as key to potential therapeutic interventions for many diseases, including cancer.
Conventional in situ mechanical modulation relies on two-dimensional (2D) cell culture models by engineering planar substrates where cells grow (Fig. 1). Although 3D scaffold holds great potential in drug delivery and tissue engineering, its study is still in the early stages, where systematic control of biomaterial property, structure dimensionality and chemical composition is currently not feasible. Thus, mechanical modulation in 3D cell models, where physiologically relevant data can be obtained, has not been attempted. The project aims to develop an active well-defined 3D scaffold for cellular mechanical stimulation and interrogation using a combination of biocompatible polymers and magnetic nanoparticles. We will use two-photon polymerization (TPP) to fabricate 3D micro-scaffolds with multiple material components with controlled dimensions (Fig. 2). The body of the scaffolds will be based on photoresist polymers and the cell-binding sites will have a mixture of polymer and magnetic particles. A magnetic tweezer with a sharp tip will be deployed on a nanomanipulator to perform mechanical stimulation and interrogation of cell adhesions. The project will serve as a proof of principle for a host of 3D scaffold studies aiming for drug delivery and tissue engineering.