Undergraduate: Explore Chemical Engineering

Neha Manohar '14

"Conducting polymers are plastics that can conduct electricity, and could potentially be a light-weight, flexible, and transparent replacement for rigid, heavy, and opaque metals. Polyaniline is a stable conducting polymer that has drawn a lot of attention due to its unique redox chemistry that lends itself to industrial applications. Our group previously reported an environmentally benign method of making polyaniline from its monomer aniline. The conventional method for polyaniline synthesis creates sulfuric acid as a waste product, but by changing the oxidant in the system to a milder one and adding sodium chloride to the system, we were able to replace the dangerous acid with water. One of my projects this summer involves adapting this new method to the ring-substituted derivatives of polyaniline, which, unlike polyaniline, are soluble in organic solvents and therefore easier to process for industrial purposes. My other project involves switching sodium chloride to salts with higher ionic strengths to improve the quality of the polyaniline obtained. We found that by increasing the ionic strength of the system, the yield and conductivity of the polyaniline increases significantly, and is even greater than that of conventionally synthesized polyaniline. Working on these projects as a part of my summer co-op with UMass Lowell has really taught me how exciting and challenging research can be. I learned a lot from the graduate students and faculty whom I worked with. They were very approachable and patient, and really took the time to answer all my questions and guide me through my projects."

Steve Latina '14

"This summer, I worked in the Nanoscale Assembly and Integration Laboratory (NAIL) under Dr. Zhiyong Gu, with a focus on Tin-Indium nanostructure fabrication and optimization as well as nanosoldering and nanoprinting methods. As a mechanical engineering sophomore, I was able to perform research outside of my major in the chemical engineering department, providing prospective and lab experience in a field not normally traversed by mechanical engineering students. It was difficult at first being immersed in a lab environment so far from what I'm used to with mechanical engineering, but at the end of the summer I feel knowledgeable and comfortable with my research and look forward to volunteering my time there this upcoming year."

Meaghan Brooks '14

"During my summer internship, I am working with Prof. Nese Orbey and the Chemical Engineering Department and Ricky Baggio learning the process of metal electrospinning. My job is to fabricate meshes of metal nano fibers through the process of electrospinning and then pyrolyzing the electrospun material. The goal of my work is to experiment with the electrospinning process and research the properties of the metal meshes to see what occurs on the nano scale. This internship has been an amazing experience and an outstanding opportunity. I have cultivated skills you cannot learn without this kind of hands on experience and now have already started my resume off strong."