Summer Research Experience for Teachers

In the summer of 2010, the following teachers joined the MRSEC team:

Pam Rasmussen, Raymond Central High School
worked with Jeff Shield, Mechanical Engineering.

"I am working with SmCoFeNbC alloys. I have varied the composition and annealed the resultant metals to determine the effect on x-ray, and magnetic characteristics.
During my RET experience, I have gained knowledge and skills I can take back to the classroom. I plan to share my experience with my High School students, hopefully sparking a desire in them to explore research and/or engineering as career options."


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

"This summer I continued the research project with Professor Ducharmes' group that involves creating polymer coated Barium Titanate nanoparticles. We have expanded this project to include different Carbon length chains of Phosphonic Acids and other Oligomers as the coating for the Barium Titanate. It is hoped that this process of treating the Barium Titanate will lead to higher Permittivity and Dielectric Strength.
Besides this, I continue to assistance in the educational outreach of Nanotechnology and MRSEC research to Nebraska Science Teachers."


Nicholas Reding, Papillion - La Vista High School
worked with Stephen Ducharme, Physics.

"This summer I am making Langmuir-Blodgett (LB) films out of the ferroelectric polymer polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF). The LB technique involves compressing a liquid sub-phase of polymer laterally into a dense film one monolayer thick and then transferring the film to a substrate. I am using the horizontal dipping method (the Schaefer method) to transfer several of these monolayers to a glass substrate making a multilayer film. These films are very thin (20 monolayers) and exhibit unique ferroelectric properties. By sandwiching them with thin aluminum electrodes, I can test the dielectric properties of the polymer films. I am manipulating the temperature, frequency of current, and amount of voltage to see the effect each has on the overall capacitance."


Matthew Johnson, Gretna High School
worked with Axel Enders, Physics.

"During the summer of 2010, I worked with Dr. Axel Enders in the Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM) laboratory. My project is to develop a computer program to simulate the operation of the STM. This simulator will use the Tersoff-Hamann model based on Bardeen’s tunneling theory. The goal is to produce a simulator that is mathematically rigorous enough to allow direct comparison between images from the STM and the theoretical output based on the electronic density of states of the sample being imaged. Further, the program should be robust and flexible to allow it to be used as a teaching aid for students and technicians working with scanning tunneling microscopy."


Michael Clark, Creighton Prep High School, Omaha
worked with Alexei Gruverman, Physics.

"This summer, I performed my second internship under Dr. Alexei Gruverman. My internship was split up into three major areas. First, I had a current high school student from Creighton Prep High school shadow and work with me. This particular student is very interested in pursuing scientific research as a career and this unique opportunity provided practical lab experience to be embedded into all facets of a research group from designing and conducting experiments to analyzing results and constructing power points for discussion. Practical experience included designing Langmuir-Blodgett (LB) samples and analyzing these samples via atomic force microscopy (AFM).
The second and third areas were all linked together and focused on research. First, I was assigned was fabrication of Langmuir-Blodgett (LB) films of poly vinylidene fluoride (PVF) on silicon wafers and platinum/silicon wafers for the Gruverman group. I was able to consistently obtain quality films for our group and write a clear procedure while training members of the Gruverman group to successful fabricate LB films.
The third area I worked on this summer was analyzing the silicon wafers with the LB films using Atomic Force Microscopy machine (AFM). The Gruverman group trained me in correct usage of the AFM machine to analyze and interpret the films I created for Dr. Gruverman's overall research aim.
Since many of the samples created this summer look very promising based on the AFM, the group's next step is to apply Piezoresponse Force Microscopy (PFM). Our goal regarding PFM is locating desirable areas for applying electric impulses and then analyzing those impulses for uniformity of charge.
Dr. Gruverman's overall research aim is to construct an information storage system that can accurately and cheaply store data at the nanoscale level. If this can be successfully accomplished, it would be possible to place an entire library's materials onto a device no larger than a flash drive."