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.

Bright Lights (June 25, 2012): Exploring Electricity

Teachers Workshop (June 8, 2012): Exploring Electricity


RET participants in

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






In the summer of 2015, the following teachers joined the MRSEC team:

Courtney Matulka (left), Beadle Middle School, Millard
worked with Axel Enders,  Physics.

"Courtney Matulka from Millard Public Schools is collaborating with Dr. Axel Enders in creating video blogs (vlogs) on the cutting edge research happening in the nano sciences at UNL. The purpose of these vlogs are to educate, excite and engage Secondary Education students (6 - 12 grades) in the nano sciences. Each vlog investigates a professors research addressing the background, equipment used, material outcomes and implications for future advancements in technology. A YouTube channel has been created to share these vlogs with teachers and students. Teachers can use these vlogs in conjunction with the nano science kits created by NCMN education outreach.
In addition, Courtney Matulka is researching in Dr. Xia Hong's lab. She is using the scotch-tape method and rubbings on SiO2 substrates to find single layers of graphene. When a single layer of graphene is located on SiO2 substrate a Raman Spectroscopy and Atomic Force Microscope are used to determine if a single layer of graphene has been found. From this, a device is created to test the graphene."


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.“


Andrew Benker, Omaha Benson High School Magnet
worked Stephen Ducharme,  Physics.

"This is my first summer working with the MRSEC summer research program with Dr. Ducharme. My task this summer is to develop a consistent process for the production of an organic polymer thin films capable of exhibiting ferroelectric properties. In other words, a process to turn long carbon chain molecules into a thin sheet only nanometers thick that can respond to and record electric fields. Technologies that use "rare earth" materials to record magnetic fields are what make modern solid state memory(flash drives), RAM and assorted sensors possible. Organic thin films may fill a similar role, but with cheaper, more plentiful, and less toxic materials. 
The basic process involves taking a carefully prepared solution of Polyvinylidene flouride (a type of plastic) dissolved in a solvent. The solution is then applied to a glass slide, and spun up to 2000 rpm, allowing the rotation to spread the film out to 50-100 nanometers. By applying electrodes above, and below the film we can create electrical circuits to study the ferroelectric properties and quality of the manufacturing process."

Scott Burns, Lincoln Pius X High School
worked with Xia Hong, Physics.

"The group I am working with is focused on growing thin films of molecules on smooth surfaces.  We do this through a process called sputtering which is done in a high vacuum environment and involves shooting the charged particles of a plasma into a target of material which releases molecules from the target so those free molecules can be attracted and attached to substrate surface.  
I have had the opportunity to participate in the sputtering process, analyze the resulting thin films using x-ray diffraction, and help in the construction of a new vacuum chamber which will be able to create thin films by the end of the summer."