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Chemical Engineering

Students may apply to one or more of the below projects, indicating this in their statement of interest, or they may apply for "Chemical Engineering: General," indicating in their statement of interest their skills and background and some faculty with whom they would be interested in working.  Chemical Engineering Faculty List

Title Name Email Project Name Project Description Requirements
Asst. Prof. Brett Savoie Machine-Learning Force Fields for Molecular Simulation Molecular dynamics simulations play a critical role in interpreting experimental data and designing new materials by providing molecular insight into macroscopic properties. At the heart of these simulations are the molecular force-field that determine the interactions and consequently the accuracy of all predictions. In this project, the student will participate in the development of an automated method for extending force-fields to new regions of chemical space. The student will learn the intricacies of the Python package that our group is developing for this purpose, gain access to our force-field database, and help extend it using machine learning to improve accuracy and coverage.  Strong programming background and course work relevant to molecular simulations.
Asst. Prof. Letian Dou High-Efficiency Halide Perovskite Solar Cells and Light Emitting Diodes Modern society relies on electronics and optoelectronic devices (e.g. transistors, light emitting diodes, lasers, solar cells, and detectors). Semiconductor materials are the basis of these devices. Currently, the state-of-the-art devices are dominated by conventional inorganic materials, which are expensive to produce and hard to be incorporated into the next-generation flexible/wearable and bio-compatible devices. While organic materials are advantageous in terms of costs and mechanical flexibility, their electronic properties are usually not as good as inorganic materials.  Organic-inorganic hybrid materials provide a promising solution, if the best of the two worlds can be combined.

The design of new hybrid materials for the next generation of optoelectronic and sensing devices and the elucidation of their fundamental structure-property-performance relationships are the key focus of the Dou research group. Specifically, we aim to assemble organic and inorganic materials together through non-covalent and covalent interactions. We tailor the properties of these materials at the nano scale and molecular level in order to deliver new fundamental insights regarding the semiconducting organic-inorganic interface. In turn, this will allow for improved performance of solar energy harvesting and solid-state lighting, and chemical/biological sensing devices. Our research is highly interdisciplinary as it bridges chemistry, chemical engineering, and materials science such that new research paradigms that cut across traditional science and engineering disciplines can be established.
Background in chemical engineering, chemistry, materials science, or electrical engineering.
Preferred experimental skills: organic synthesis, nanomaterials synthesis, structure characterizations (XRD, SEM, etc.), electronic device fabrication.
Assoc. Prof. Bryan W. Boudouris Transparent Conducting Polymers Polymer-based electronics have attracted significant attention in both academic and industrial circles, and most of the success stories regarding molecular design in this field have relied on conjugated macromolecules.  While there are many advantages of these conjugated polymers, they often absorb light strongly in the visible portion in the spectrum.  Recently, our team has developed a new class of conducting polymers that are transparent to the eye as they do not rely on conjugation in order to conduct charge.  These macromolecules, known as radical polymers, have been studied to a significantly smaller extent in the literature.  Therefore, this project focuses on the design, synthesis, and application of novel radical groups and polymer backbones in order to establish the fundamental structure-property-performance relationships of these polymers.  In conjunction with a team of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers working on the project, the summer research intern would synthesize new small molecule monomers, polymerize these monomers into radical polymers, and fabricate test bed devices in order to evaluate the optoelectronic properties of the polymers in thin film organic electronic devices. The qualified summer research intern should have completed the introductory chemical engineering course (i.e., "mass and energy balances") and taken 2 semesters of organic chemistry.  Ideally, the summer research intern would have some experience with polymers, but this is not a firm requirement.
Prof. John Morgan Metabolic Engineering of Yeast for Production of Aromatics Aromatic molecules have importance as fuels, animal feed and fragrances. The goal of the project is to use synthetic biology tools to engineer yeast to make valuable aromatic molecules. The student will focus on identifying rate-limiting steps in the metabolic pathway and then improving the activity of enzymes with genetic engineering. Desired coursework- reaction engineering
Desired special skills- sterile technique, basic microbiology
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