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The Nanoscope: Big News in Small Science
IEN News

Concrete Results: SENIC Nanotechnology Undergraduate Research Experience Interview

The SENIC Undergraduate Internship in Nanotechnology (SUIN) program is a major component of the Southeastern Nanotechnology Infrastructure Corridor (SENIC), at the Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology at Georgia Tech, that focuses on providing undergraduates in engineering the chance to spend a summer conducting research in a world-class collaborative lab with prominent Georgia Tech researchers. GT-IEN hosted 6 undergraduates from various U.S. colleges over the summer that engaged in hands-on research in a number of fields of nanotechnology.

Over the months of the 2016 Fall Semester, the IEN will be highlighting each of the six undergraduate participants, their research topics and experience in the labs, as well as what they gained from the program and their time at Georgia Tech, and in Atlanta.

Our first interviewee from the program is Michael VanderZwaag, an undergraduate in Chemical Engineering at the University of Michigan.
Name: Michael VanderZwaag
Mentors:  Bill Jin and Behnaz Zaribaf
PI: Kimberly Kurtis, Professor and Associate Dean: Civil and Environmental Engineering

1. What sparked your interest in engineering and what problems are you hoping to help solve as an engineer?

Like most engineers, I’ve always enjoyed math and science.  I joined my middle school’s Science Olympiad team and won medals, in the areas of robotics and automation, which sparked my interest as a kid. As an engineer, I enjoy the process of solving problem. I hope to work on an innovation that impacts society in a positive way. 

I like my current research because we are studying concrete, the most widely used man-made material in the world, so the potential for impact is great due to the tremendous amount of concrete used globally.

2. What research are you conducting at GT and what applications do you feel this research may have?

I am working on manufacturing greener concrete using Titanium dioxide nanoparticles. TiO2 is added because of its photo-catalytic ability, which means that in the presence of UV Light it catalyzes a reaction that converts nitrogen oxides in the air into nitrates that are absorbed on the surface of the concrete.  This is beneficial because nitrogen oxides are primary air pollutants that contribute to the formation of acid rain and urban smog.  The ultimate goal of the project I am working on is improved corrosion resistance in concrete.  Corrosion resistance is provided by the nitrate ions once they are bound to the cement phases.  Improved corrosion resistance has the ability to increase the lifespan of concrete structures, which will reduce infrastructure maintenance costs and lower carbon dioxide emissions.

These new types of green concrete will be of increasing importance as, according to the Federal Highway Administration, the nations’ roadway infrastructure faces a need for $170 billion, annually, to alleviate congestion and improve performance. Additionally, one in nine of the country’s bridges is considered structurally deficient, creating a huge chance to improve structures with new materials as they are replaced by necessity.

3. What has been your favorite research activity thus far and why?

My favorite activity has been mixing concrete.  I don’t mind getting my hands dirty and it’s a relatively simple but still interesting process.  I’ve also done a lot of micro and nanoscale analysis in the cleanroom during my time here at Georgia Tech and I enjoy the chance to see the larger scale application of the research we are conducting.

4. Do you feel this REU experience has helped prepare you for working in a collaborative laboratory environment and furthered your education goals?

The people I have met and worked with, both in the SUIN program and in the Kurtis lab, have been the highlight of my research experience so far.  It’s really beneficial to work with such intelligent people who all come from different backgrounds and the collaborative nature of research is something that I’ve enjoyed. Prior to this REU experience, I didn’t know much about grad school.  It has been tremendously informative about both the process of applying to grad school, the different processes for obtaining funding to further my education, as well as the opportunities that a graduate degree can provide.

5. What are your plans post-undergraduate?

At this point, I'm still undecided on my post-undergraduate plans. This research experience has led me to more seriously consider attending graduate school and pursuing a career in research.

6. What is your impression of GA Tech and ATL? What have you done outside the lab?

The Georgia Tech campus is really impressive;everything is really new and nice, especially the Campus Recreation Center. Working out there has helped me get back in shape during my time here. I've also enjoyed exploring the city of Atlanta with my roommates from the SUIN program. We went cliff jumping in the Chattahoochee River last weekend, which was terrifying but awesome.

      L-R: Bill Jin, Michael VanderZwaag & Behnaz Zaribaf                                      Concrete samples under UV light
For more information on the SENIC REU Program, contact Program Manager Leslie O’Neill [] for more information on SENIC Education and Outreach, contact Program Director Dr. Nancy []

The Georgia Tech IEN is an Interdisciplinary Research Institute (IRI) comprised of faculty and students interested in using the most advanced fabrication and characterization tools, and cleanroom infrastructure, to facilitate research in micro- and nano-scale materials, devices, and systems. Applications of this research span all disciplines in science and engineering with particular emphasis on biomedicine, electronics, optoelectronics and photonics, and energy applications. As there can be a learning curve associated with initial proof-of-concept development and testing using cleanroom tools, this seed grant program was developed to expedite the initiation of new graduate students and new research projects into productive activity. Successful proposals to this program will identify a new, currently-unfunded research idea that requires cleanroom access to generate preliminary data necessary to pursue other funding avenues.

Click this link to read the full details and submit an application.

Smart devices that wake up with voice commands have gained popularity in recent years, and now researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology have taken it one step farther: an always-on camera.

“We wanted to devise a camera that was capturing images all of the time, and then once you have a particular gesture – like you write a Z in the air – it’s going to wake up,” said Arijit Raychowdhury, an associate professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “To make that work without affecting the battery life, we wanted it to be so low power that you can power it with harvested ambient energy, such as with a photovoltaic cell.”

IEN Industry Seminar Series:

Introduction to Low Flow Measurement and Control

Wednesday September 14, 2016 from 9:00 AM to 1:30 PM EDT

Low flow, high purity gas and liquid systems play a critical role in making better products more efficiently in industries such as, semiconductor, LED, fiber optic, solar, glass coating, roll coating, food, pharmaceutical, bio/medical, chemical, oil and gas and many more....

Join us on Wednesday, September 14th for a series of presentations and demos by Brooks Instrument professionals with many years of flow and control experience; focused on helping apply the instruments correctly for your industry or research needs.


9:00 AM – 9:40 AM      Welcome Address & Seminar Overview - Dr. Oliver Brand: IEN Executive Director

9:40 AM – 10:50 AM    Session 1: Mass Flow Control for High Purity Applications - Nigel Glover, Brooks Instruments Regional Sales Manager

10:50 AM – 11:45 AM  IEN Cleanroom & Lab Tour - Ben Hollerbach: IEN Cleanroom Support Staff

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM   Session 2: Low Flow Liquid Delivery and Vaporization -  Jeff Gula: Brooks Product Specialist *Lunch Provided During This Session*

1:00 PM - 1:30 PM   Open Discussion: How the IEN’s shared user labs can help your industry - Dr. Paul Joseph: IEN Principle Research Scientist

Read the full agenda, and register for the event to claim your lunch at this link

Cleanroom Corner

Precision Dicing Tuned for Greater Performance

A service that has been offered to IEN researchers for over a decade is about to get a tune up. Charlie Suh and his staff have begun retrofitting the sample dicing process to increase cut quality while reducing the operational difficulty to the user. Further optimization of the standard blades cutting settings has been paired with the addition of two new blades to the cutters’ arsenal. The new “45” Resin blade offers the same flexible usage for cutting thick and brittle samples, such as Sapphire and Quartz, but with a greatly reduced cutting path. A new ultra-thin 30µm wide nickel blade is also being tested for use in Silicon, to provide users the tightest tolerances possible when their process calls for it.

Whether you need training on the ADT Dicing Saw, or need to have your samples diced, The IEN Staff is available. More information can be found through
Nanofabrication for Research and Development - September 8, 2016 at 2:00pm
Marcus Nanotechnology Conference Room 1116

Myriad process channels are available to fabricate the nanostructures needed for today’s research and development (R&D). We discuss how the nano R&D community is employing a wide range of multi-application nanofabrication techniques available by Raith to realize nanostructures of great importance for research in several fields, including:

  • Optoelectronics: Photonics, plasmonics, integrated optics, VCSELs, DFB lasers
  • Optics: OVD, holograms
  • Electrical engineering
  • Physics: Graphene, carbon nanotubes, nanowires, single electron transistors, meta-materials, nanomagnetism, X-ray microscopy
  • Nanobiotechnology: nanopores, microfluidics, sensors
  • Materials science / process technology
  • Nanoengineering

The techniques discussed include traditional electron beam lithography, but also go far beyond to include ion beam lithography, electron beam induced deposition and etching, nanomanipulation, and stitch-error-free lithography techniques.

Presentations by:

Jason E. Sanabia, Ph.D.
President & CEO
Raith America, Inc.

Joseph Klingfus, Ph.D.
Sales Manager & Applications Scientist
Raith America, Inc.

Check this link for further information.

Raith  EBPG5150 E-Beam System & Microdisk Resonator fabricated on the EBPG5150 (Xufeng Zhang, USA) Images courtesy of

SUMS Roll-Out 
IEN Users, don't forget that IEN has adopted a new, user friendly equipment access interface system. More about the new system can be found at the cleanroom website at:
Workforce Development News
Register for the Fall 2016 IEN Soft Lithography for Microfluidics Short Course

The Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology (IEN) at Georgia Tech will offer a short course on microfluidics on October 20 & 21, 2016. This short course is open to on and off-campus researchers from academia, industry and government laboratories/organizations and is not limited to current Georgia Tech students or IEN users. Anyone who is interested in starting research in the area of microfluidics or PDMS device fabrication is invited and strongly encouraged to participate.

The 2 day intensive course will be structured to assume no prior knowledge of the technologies by the participants. The course agenda is evenly divided between laboratory hands-on sessions, including SU-8 master mold creation using photolithography and PDMS device fabrication in the IEN cleanroom, and supporting lectures. The goal for this course is to impart a basic understanding of soft lithography for microfluidic applications as practiced in academia and industry.

Read the full agenda, view rates and register for the course here

To view the Nano@Tech lectures via live stream, bookmark this link.
IEN Events

Thursday Sep. 8, 2016 - 2:00pm - Nanofabrication for Research and Development

Tuesday Sep. 13, 2016 - 12:00pm - Nano@Tech: "Transient Polymers for Low-k Dielectrics and Decomposing Electronic Devices" Paul A. Kohl, Hercules, Inc./Thomas L. Gossage Chair and Regents' Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Wednesday Sep. 14, 2016 - 9:00am - IEN Industry Seminar Series: Introduction to Low Flow Measurement and Control

Tuesday Sep. 13, 2016 - 12:00pm - Nano@Tech: "Religious Reactions to Nanotechnology"
Professor Chris Toumey, Center for Environmental Nanoscience & Risk, Dept. of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of South Carolina

Thursday Oct. 13, 2016 - 12:00pm - Nano@Tech:
Professor Hua Wang, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the Georgia Institute of Technology

Thursday & Friday  Oct. 20 & 21, 2016 - 9:00am - IEN Short Course on Soft Lithography for Microfluidics
Campus & Atlanta Events

Sep. 8, 2016 - 6:30pm - InVenture Prize Kickoff Session

Sep. 22, 2016 - 3:00pm -
IMat Innovation Lecture Series: Alloy Stabilization of Nanocrystals: Why Does it Work? 

Oct. 21, 2016 - 11:30am - GaMEP Energy and Environmental Webinar Series: Greenhouse Gas Reporting and How Your Plant is Effected - Register Here

Dec. 9, 2016 - 11:30am - GaMEP Energy and Environmental Webinar Series: Stormwater Pollution Prevention (SWPPP) Compliance - Register Here

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