NEMO Research

As part of the NEMO minor, NEMO scholars will participate in a semester-long research project working side-by-side with graduate students and faculty at the College of Engineering. The goal of the research projects is to provide the NEMO scholars with an opportunity to design and build a device or a system incorporating elements of nanotechnology. The technical expertise of the faculty mentors listed below, along with others, will provide NEMO scholars with the opportunity to work in world class research labs under the guidance of nationally-recognized leaders in the field of nanotechnology with a demonstrated interest in synergistic activities.

Example Project 1: Aperture Array Nanolithography for Manufacturing Large Areas of a New Class of Membrane Filters The NEMO team involved in this project will fabricate and characterize water filters for separating bacterial and viral contamination from water sources under the supervision of a graduate student mentor. The students will develop a research plan, where a number of filters will be fabricated with pre-defined process variations. Following membrane fabrication using ion-beam lithography system, the NEMO students will learn how to use state-of the art equipment to measure its pore size distribution as a function of process variables using a combination of electron microscopy and digital image analysis as well as gas-liquid porometry. The undergraduate student will also quantify the performance of the filters in terms of pure water permeability, viral, bacterial, and yeast removal by using an existing bench-top filtration apparatus. The students will be required to effectively communicate their ideas to the research team through periodic oral presentations and a written report.

Example Project 2: Magnetic Information Storage Using Nanoscale Magnetic Patterned Media The NEMO team will participate in the fabrication and testing of patterned media. The team will use a UHV sputter deposition system to fabricate the magnetic films, atom beam lithography to define the patterns and sputter etching to form the bits. The students will use scanning electron microscopy (SEM) to evaluate the physical characteristics of the structures and a suite of tools, magneto-optic Kerr effect microscopy (MOKE), vibrating sample magnetometry (VSM) and magnetic force microcrosopy (MFM), to evaluate the magnetic properties of the samples. The team will use design-of-experiment (6sigma) methods to optimize thin film growth and media fabrication processes. Students will make biweekly presentations to the nanomagnetics research group and prepare final report.

Example Project 3: Nanomagnetic Detector for Biomolecular Recognition NEMO students involved in this project will contribute to the fabrication of a magnetoresistive sensor array with sub-100 nm cell-size, with the cell geometry optimized for 100nm nanoparticle detection. Student will take part in the study of the magnetic interaction between a nanoparticle and a sensor element using a nanopositioning magnetic probe. Upon labeling of target DNA and proteins with magnetic nanoparticles and comparison with well-characterized model systems, the potential of parallel magnetic pull-off “melting curves” for efficient differentiation against non-specific association will be evaluated. The students will be exposed to conventional integrated circuit fabrication techniques, focused-ion beam lithography, nanomanipulation, scanning probe microscopy, electronic characterization of magnetoresistive circuits, and biomolecular functionalization techniques.

Example Project 4: Nanopantography The NEMO team will test the ultimate resolution of nearly atomic dimensions, nano-Einzel lenses with diameter of 40 nm or less fabricated using ion beam proximity printing. The NEMO scholars will work with a graduate student mentor to fabricate Einzel lenses by ion beam lithography. The students will investigate ultimate resolution by ion trajectory simulation and experiments. The students will examine the effect of ion impact energy, substrate temperature and roughness on achievable resolution. The students will learn to use Scanning Electron Microscopy and Atomic Force Microscopy to examine deposits. First, we plan to apply this method to deposit small metal particles that will nucleate the growth of an ordered array of isolated, vertically aligned carbon nanotubes, for field emission applications.