MIT’s Fingers-On Introduction to Nanotechnology

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MIT Nano Fabrication

In 6.A06, an undergraduate class that provides college students hands-on expertise in nano fabrication using the toolsets and cleanroom of MIT.nano, first-year undergraduate Audrey Lee hundreds an electron-beam evaporator with silicon wafers, a course of step within the creation of a photo voltaic cell. Credit score: Jesus del Alamo

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Undergraduate lessons present hands-on introduction to nanotechnology and nanoengineering at MIT.nano.

MIT undergraduates are utilizing labs at MIT.nano to tinker on the nanoscale, exploring spectrometry, nanomaterial synthesis, photovoltaics, sensor fabrication, and different matters. They’re additionally getting an expertise not widespread on the undergraduate degree — gowning up in a bunny go well with and performing hands-on analysis inside a clear room.

Through the fall 2021 semester, these college students have been a part of 6.S059 (Nanotechnology — Design From Atoms to All the things) and 6.A06 (First.nano! – Fabricate Your Personal Photo voltaic Cell in MIT.nano Cleanroom), two lessons supplied by the Division of Electrical Engineering and Pc Science (EECS) aimed toward introducing undergraduates to nanoscience by means of design-focused studying using related fabrication processes and power units.

“Courses like these may be transformational experiences for our college students,” says MIT.nano Director Vladimir Bulovic, the Fariborz Maseeh (1990) Chair in Rising Know-how. “They unfold the message that nanoscience is at your fingertips. It’s not some far-off, summary idea, however accessible right here and now. We’re thrilled to see MIT college inspiring and shaping the long run leaders of science and expertise by exhibiting them what they’ll grasp inside MIT.nano.”

Utilizing easy instruments to encourage broad exploration

Class 6.S059 was developed to bridge the basics of engineering design with the precise constructing of practical built-in applied sciences, one thing usually separated into a number of lessons and semesters.

Over 9 weeks, 18 college students from 5 completely different educational departments realized a number of nanoscale prototyping methods in MIT.nano together with spin coating, maskless lithography, 3D printing, colloidal synthesis, sputtering, evaporation, and optical microscopy. By specializing in a wide range of easy instruments, the scholars might do a lot of the work with no need intensive, specialised coaching. Fairly than watching educating assistants run tools, these undergraduates might do the analysis themselves and, within the course of, give attention to how the science works, versus how you can function an advanced setup.

Sophia Sonnert, Sidne Gregory, and Veronica Grant

Left to proper: Mechanical engineering junior Sophia Sonnert, EECS senior Sidne Gregory, and EECS senior Veronica Grant show their 6.S059 last challenge. The group printed their names and the MIT seal on versatile subtrates utilizing fluorescent ink and the instruments of MIT.nano. Credit score: Thomas Gearty

“We needed to show the science of what that you must design nanodevices and methods in an interactive and hands-on method,” says co-instructor Farnaz Niroui, the EE Landsman (1958) Profession Improvement Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Pc Science at MIT. “Usually, these introductory programs tackle a heavy mathematical/theoretical method, which may make it exhausting to take care of college students’ curiosity. We determined to show it by means of an utilized method — having the scholars design and construct, whereas studying the basics alongside the way in which.”

As an alternative of giving directions on how you can do every step in weekly labs, Niroui and co-instructor Rajeev Ram, professor {of electrical} engineering, taught the tip consequence (reminiscent of utilizing mild to watch stuff you can’t see with the bare eye) after which let the scholars experiment with assembling the software set wanted to get there (reminiscent of designing and constructing their very own microscopes and handheld spectrometers). Every week’s challenge constructed on the one earlier than. For instance, the undergraduates first designed their very own spectrometers, then fabricated the optical grating and a 3D printed case to assemble the software. This led to a hands-on introduction to CAD design, photolithography, and 3D printing, adopted by enjoying with completely different mild sources and testing their gadgets on real-world purposes by measuring the chlorophyll in a leaf and the emission of quantum dots.

Student Loads PicoTrack

A scholar hundreds the PicoTrack, a totally automated coat-and-develop observe system for spin coating, spray growing, and puddle growing of 6-inch and 8-inch wafers. Credit score: Jesus del Alamo

For his or her last challenge, the scholars divided into groups to design and construct their very own functioning gadgets. Every challenge had to make use of supplies and methods lined within the class, and have at the very least one function smaller than 100 nanometers. All six groups have been in the end profitable, overcoming challenges to create stretchable sensors utilizing silver nanowires, seven-segment pixelated shows for wearable purposes, a programmable natural light-emitting diode matrix, light-trapping microstructures for thin-film photo voltaic cells, color-tunable light-emitting diode, and printing fluorescent ink on versatile substrates.

“Seeing the scholars design and construct their very own gadgets after only some weeks of instruction was thrilling and spectacular,” says Ram. “It confirmed that hands-on introduction to superior ideas in physics can actually present undergraduates with helpful, working data about nanotechnology.”

Syamantak Payra

6.S059 scholar Syamantak Payra, a senior from the Division of Electrical Engineering and Pc Science, shows his group’s seven-segment pixelated show. The group fabricated an natural light-emitting diode after which built-in it to a working circuit (which in addition they constructed) to output temperature sensor readings. Credit score: Thomas Gearty

This was the primary yr for the design-focused nanotechnology class. Niroui and Ram hope to scale it up in future semesters, increasing the providing to extra undergraduates.

“Most of the college students have stated they’re excited to discover additional into the world of utilized science and {hardware} engineering,” says educating assistant Mayuran Saravanapavanantham, a PhD candidate in EECS. “One even stated they searched MIT’s course listings for something with the time period ‘nano’.” Saravanapavanantham was certainly one of three TAs for six.S059, together with Roberto Brenes and Peter Satterthwaite, all EECS doctoral college students.

An early glimpse into the nanoworld

“First.nano!,” an advising seminar for first-year college students, had comparable targets: exhibiting undergraduates what’s attainable on the nanoscale by means of hands-on clean-room experiences. For 3 hours every week, MIT college students in 6.A06 explored MIT.nano’s amenities, experimenting with nanotechnology software units and constructing silicon photo voltaic cells beneath the steering of co-instructors Jesús del Alamo, the Donner Professor of Engineering, and Jorg Scholvin, the MIT.nano assistant director for consumer providers.

“How will we get first-year college students curious about nanofabrication?” asks Jorg Scholvin. “Convey them into the clear room and allow them to be taught by doing issues within the lab.” The technique undoubtedly sparked curiosity: Greater than 30 incoming undergraduates utilized to fill one of many eight slots supplied within the seminar.

College students don’t usually enter the clear room throughout their undergraduate research, says Scholvin. By introducing them to nanofabrication of their first semester, del Alamo and Scholvin hope to speed up their paths into nano-related fields. And, with expertise working in a particle-free setting, Scholvin says, these college students at the moment are ready for future alternatives, reminiscent of conducting nanoscale analysis with college by means of the Undergraduate Analysis Alternatives Program.

“One of many targets of First.nano! was to share our ardour for nanofabrication,” says del Alamo. “MIT.nano is a rare facility. By creating alternatives for these college students to work and research right here, we hope to open it as much as broad use for undergraduate analysis and training.”

Undergraduates from each 6.S059 and 6.A06 are invited to current their work on the Microsystems Annual Analysis Convention (MARC), co-sponsored by MIT.nano and the Microsystems Know-how Laboratories in January. The occasion, which brings collectively over 200 college students, college, and trade companions to have fun scientific advances in nanotechnology, historically options displays by graduate-level college students.

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