CoT-South Bend students conduct nanotechnology research
Written by TechPurdue // January 10, 2012 // Admitted Students, Advanced Manufacturing, Alumni & Friends, Business & Industry, Current Students, Energy and Sustainability, Faculty & Staff, Latest College News, Research, South Bend // No comments
South Bend is becoming a hub of nanotechnology research activity, and students from Purdue University’s College of Technology at South Bend are bringing a fresh perspective to research on the topic at the University of Notre Dame.
Three of Purdue’s electrical engineering technology students were chosen to participate in the summer 2011 NDnano Undergraduate Research Fellowship (NURF) at Notre Dame. During the summer, they worked on research projects that could lead to more energy efficient computers and easier to use lithium ion batteries. After the fellowships were complete, they were asked to stay on to continue their work in the labs.
Dean Schaetzl, a junior from South Bend, has been assisting with the battery project.
“We are trying to build a better battery by using solid polymers as an electrolyte. By using solids, we can eliminate the casing; they shouldn’t be as toxic; they don’t leak, and they are flexible,” Schaetzl said. Current batteries need rigid casings to hold in the liquid and toxic electrolytes.
He is working with Susan Fullerton, research assistant professor in Notre Dame’s Department of Electrical Engineering, who has been impressed with Schaetzl’s enthusiasm and skills.
“Dean has a practical understanding of mechanics, engineering and electrical,” she said. “He works really well with his hands, too. That’s a skill set that is hard to find. The fact that we’ve invited the Purdue students to stay past their fellowships means they’ve made themselves really valuable and valued by the faculty.”
Schaetzl believes it also helps him and his classmates become better prepared for careers in this emerging field, especially as South Bend-area projects, such as Ignition Park, gain traction.
“Nanotechnology is what a lot of things are going toward: biomedical research, chemicals, drug therapy, transistors; everything is getting down to that size,” he said. “I want to work in the automotive industry, and this has helped because of the battery research,” he said. “Electric vehicles is a growth industry. It’s really what I want to do.”
Purdue College of Technology students in South Bend are able to take their first full course in nanotechnology courses this spring. A nanotechnology concentration will be added to Purdue’s engineering technology bachelor’s degree program as well. These enhancements, coupled with the partnership with NDNano, can only strengthen the area’s focus on molding a nanotechnology economy. That economy could include products influenced by research being performed at NDNano by Gyorgy Csaba and assisted by Purdue College of Technology students Ross Harnish, a senior from Elkhart, and Dan Cole, a junior from South Bend.
Harnish’s project findings could help develop computers that run on less power.
“I was helping to develop a simulation tool for nanomagnetic circuits,” he said. “They would be a new way to do logic instead of using transistors in computers. It is a very low-power solution.”
Cole worked on developing an electromagnet for precisely controlling the strength and direction of a magnetic field. The final product will be used to magnetize nanoscale magnetic samples.