Monthly Archives: June 2017

Feathers in my hat, and new beginnings

The 2017 spring semester was an eventful one.
Courses: MA511 😦 and ECE65900 🙂
I began with the plan that I’d finish a math course and a nanoelectronics course by Supriya Datta. The math course was a requirement, but the nanoelectronics course was something I really had to do. I had heard stories about what a wonderful teacher Professor Dutta is. For those who do not know it, Supriyo Dutta is the Father of Spintronics – the person who laid down the theoretical foundation of spin devices. I took the course and was hooked from the beginning to the end. Even though we did not have a solid background in quantum mechanics, Prof. Dutta navigated us through the treacherous currents of quantum mechanics, density functional theories, and vector algebra, and taught us the intricacies of spin transport. The quizzes were more like a formality, easy to solve if you had practiced the past papers. He designed the course to give students the necessary intuition to solve electron transport problems on their own.
I highly recommend this course to students with interest in Nanoelectronics.
The MA511 course, unfortunately, was very disappointing. The lecturer, instead of showing us the applications of linear algebra in real problems, just went on copying math notes from a notebook on to the screen. We completed the first few homeworks on time, but eventually lost interest and dropped the course.
Won the SVC Foundation Scholarship
Our group specializes in discovering and investigating the plasmonic properties of new materials – transition metal nitrides and transparent conducting oxides being a few of them. To develop films with excellent optical properties we possess our very own sputtering system. As a lot of my seniors from our group recently graduated, my colleague Deesha and I got the duty of taking care of the system. As titanium nitride is always in high demand from a lot of our collaborators, the system is always hot in demand and needs to be well maintained at all times. Being the superuser is a tough job. We have to provide samples-on-demand to our fellow labmates and our collaborators, ensure the consistency of the sputtered films, make sure that the machine is operational, and develop and optimize recipes for new materials. It’s a demanding job, but also rewarding. For instance, my close association with the sputtering system landed me the SVC-foundation scholarship, that partially covers books and tuition for a year, and pays for conference travel to any conference related to vacuum technology.
Completed my quota of tours for the Discovery Park Ambassador Program.
I had signed up for the discovery park ambassador program earlier this year. As part of the program, the Ambassadors give tours to visiting faculty and members of the public of the facilities we have here in Discovery Park. As a Birck ambassador, I gave tours of the Birck Nanotechnology Center, which houses the Scifres Nanofabrication Center. It was a really enriching experience. My audience varied from fifth-graders to full professors; so even though I was covering the same material, I had to tune down or expand my descriptions of the cleanrooms and the facilities to suit the knowledge of the audience. And the visitors never ceased to surprise me. For instance, during one of the tours, I was trying to figure out the best way to explain plasmonic tweezers to a work at home mom. The best I could come up with was, “So… when you focus light into a very narrow region, the spot begins to suck in smalls particles and hold them in position.” I didn’t get to the part where plasmonic antennae push the trapping dimensions to the sub-wavelength level. To my surprise, she responded, “Yes, so the dipole force due to the field gradient is what holds it in place. Now the plasmonic antennae enable a high field confinement, and you can trap them in a smaller space, yes?” It turned out that her husband did his PhD in optical trapping.
The following pictures are of a demo of LCDs I was giving to elementary school kids.
Nanodays 2017
Nanodays is a big annual event where all the research facilities open their doors to the public. It’s a three-day long event that features talks by men and women in science, demonstrations of science projects, and x. Representing OSA and SPIE, Deesha, Oksana, Shaimaa, and I manned a table with an assortment
of toys designed to teach people about optical phenomena. The audience this time varied from two to sixty-year-olds. I discovered that I really like explaining elementary science to students. The highlight of the day was when a cute little three year old stole a slinkie from the demonstration set from right under my friend Deesha’s nose.
Became president of the SPIE elections.
Last, but not least, both Deesha and I were nominated for executive committee positions for the OSA and the SPIE respectively, and became the presidents of the respective student chapters.
We look forward to a year full of exciting and enriching events related to optical science.
To get more information about the events and about how to join the groups, comment here, or join the following group.