Education and Outreach - RET

Research Experience for Teachers

Each summer, two or more high school or middle school teachers are invited to participate in a MRSEC program “Research Experience for Teachers” (RET). Teachers work on a research program during the summer, gaining first-hand experience with cutting–edge research and modern technologies. A summer stipend is provided. The relationships between the teachers and the researchers expand to include the teacher’s students during the following school year. MRSEC members visit the high or middle school at monthly intervals, bringing hands–on science activities and showing examples of how materials research affects their lives.

2017 summer RET's:

Courtney Matulka (Beadle Middle School, Millard)
Matt Mueller (Concordia High School)
Melissa Terry (Lincoln High School)
Steve Wignall (Seward High School)
Emily Jennings (Lincoln East High School)


RET participants in

2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003


In the summer of 2016, the following teachers joined the MRSEC team:



Rich Powers, Lux Middle School, Lincoln
worked with Alexander Sinitskii, Chemistry, and Axel Enders, Physics.

"The initial goal of his project was to easily make inexpensive perovskite (CsPbX3) in the chemistry lab and then to use an inkjet printer to apply a consistent layer of photoluminescent perovskite onto a conductive substrate (ITO). The next goal was to print shapes, patterns, and lines with the perovskite. Having successfully accomplished both objectives, Dr. Powers is now working to substitute the pigment colors in an inkjet printer (cyan, magenta, and yellow) with the emitted colors of light (red, green, blue) by changing the formula of the perovskite."


Eugene Kirianov, Lincoln Southwest High School
worked with Andrei Sokolov, Physics.

"This summer I continued my research with professor Sokolov’s group, which is generally aimed at investigating the possibility of controlling magnetic and structural properties of materials by applying electric and magnetic fields. My research was focused on two types of multilayered systems.
The first system consisted of La2/3Sr1/3MnO3/Pb(Zr0.53Ti0.47)0.60(Fe0.5Ta0.5)0.40O3 bilayer with Pt electrode on the top. The structure for conducting experimental measurements on the system was prepared by nano patterning technique, which produced pillar type structures ranging from 2 to 10 μm in diameter. The measurement of the system revealed predicted results and demonstrated the presence of four stable states of resistance dependent on orientation of electric and magnetic field.
The second system with a structure SrTiO3/SrRuO3/BaTiO3/Co (with electrodes from Cu/Pt on the top) was also prepared by nano patterning process. This sample is designed to study anisotropic affects in this multilayered system by means of observing anomalies in Hall effect in the “Hall rectangular area” with the measurements 20 by 10 μm. More measurement are needed to made conclusions about this system."

Steven Wignall, Seward High School
worked with Stephen Ducharme, Physics.

"This summer I again had the great opportunity to do research with Professor Ducharmes' group. My experiences continued with the fabrication of different Diisopropylammonium (DIPA) salts that I started last summer. My role was to assist in the growing of these salt crystals and help contribute to find a reproducible way of doing this consistently. This has been become a main emphasis of the group, and it was very interesting and beneficial for me to be involved in this aspect of the research.
Besides this, I continue to assistance in the educational outreach of NCMN and MRSEC to Nebraska science teachers and students. This summer the outreach continued to grow with my involvement in 9 activities. There were 3 teacher workshops in cooperation with NCMN and also 3 Nanotechnology camps through Bright Lights and Upward Bound for middle and high school students. Also added this summer were training sessions for Teachers to use the NanoKits in their Curriculum, and finishing up my summer the 3 week STEM activity with 137 students at Culler Middle school in Lincoln.“

Jeremy Scheffler, Lincoln Piux X High School
worked with Jinsong Huang, Mechanical and Materials Engineering.

The Huang group is currently researching thin film electronics, including solar cells. Through his research Mr. Scheffler learned about p-n junctions, diodes, silicon-based solar cells, and thin-film photovoltaics, and he participated in the manufacturing processes used by the Huang’s group, as well as testing thin-film solar cells that were produced in the lab. As part of the Nebraska College Preparatory Academy, he led high school students in making organic dye-sensitized solar cells and introduced them to the underlying physics of the devices.


Matthew Johnson (Gretna High School)
worked with Jeffrey Shield, Mechanical and Materials Engineering.

"In attempting to maximize the energy density of NdFeB magnets, one approach is to produce individual Nd2Fe14B grains and then align the grains for sintering to produce a magnet. In order to produce the individual grains, sulfur is added to the alloy. The addition of sulfur will produce iron sulfide (FeS) which will collect in the grain boundaries. This embrittles the material at the grain boundary causing the material for preferentially break at grain boundaries. The expected result is for a powder made from the alloy to be comprised of individual grains of Nd2Fe14B. The analysis compared the magnetic properties of samples with 0%, 0.5%, 1%, and 2% sulfur (by atom percent) added to alloys comprised of Nd15Fe77B8. It was found that a 1% sulfur addition yielded the highest energy density, (BH)max, and produced the desired embrittlement at the grain boundaries."

Andrew Benker (Omaha Benson High School Magnet)
worked with Xia Hong, Physics.

"Working with Dr. Hong's research group I helped in the fabrication of semiconductor substrates using a variety of different growth conditions and materials. The purpose of trials was to optimize the electrical conductivity where the underlying substrate makes contact with a layer of ferro-electric materials. The ferro-electric materials are similar to ferro-magnetic materials in application. Instead of using rare earth metals in electronics we can use far more plentiful organic materials (think plastics).
Besides fabrication of the substrates in a vacuum chamber, I aided in characterization of the material. Using optical and atomic force microscopes to check for surface smoothness, quality of the etched microcircuits. X-ray crystallography was performed to ensure that the substrate was made to the correct thickness within only a few nanometers tolerance."

Melissa Terry (Lincoln High School)
worked with Stephen Ducharme, Physics.

"During my time with Dr. Ducharme, we worked on growing DIPA-B salt crystals. Our goal was to control the direction of crystal growth to produce ferromagnetic alignment. We tried many different methods -- jar growth, spin growth, lift growth. We spent a lot of time trying to replicate results achieved by one of Ducharme’s former doctoral students. We also met with some of our colleagues from the chemistry department to explore the possibility of making thin film crystals on chips. Some of my time was also spend working with Steven Wignall assisting in a few workshops for middle and elementary school students."