Learning to design with atoms and molecules

MIT undergraduates are studying about nanoscale science and engineering from particular person atoms as much as full-scale useful programs, they usually’re doing it hands-on at MIT.nano.

In school 6.2540 (Nanotechnology: From Atoms to Programs) college students spend over 9 weeks inside MIT.nano’s labs, studying primary abilities that enable them to use their data of the nanoscale to design and construct spectrometers, make quantum dots, fabricate light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and tunneling chemical sensors, and check and bundle their sensors into energetic shows and programs.

Bringing the science to life on this means has generated a lot pleasure among the many undergraduates. Dahlia Dry, a senior majoring in physics, stated her college advisor urged the category would present her the enjoyable in quantum mechanics. “He was proper. This class was precisely what middle-school-aged me thought MIT could be like, in all the most effective methods,” she says.

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Phrase should be getting out in regards to the enjoyable as the category is drawing curiosity from undergraduates majoring in many alternative topics. In fall 2022, six tutorial departments have been represented by the 23 college students enrolled.

“This class is quintessentially an ‘MIT’ class,” says Neil Deshmukh, an EECS junior. “Since coming to campus, I’ve all the time needed to take a category the place we have been free to construct practically any thought, with entry to state-of-the-art tools and superb instructors. In 6.2540, that is precisely what we did, and it was top-of-the-line experiences I’ve had.”

The category is taught by three EECS professors: Farnaz Niroui, the EE Landsman Profession Growth Assistant Professor; Rajeev Ram, professor {of electrical} engineering; and Tayo Akinwande, the Thomas and Gerd Perkins Professor of Electrical Engineering and Laptop Science.

“On this class we take a design strategy, fairly than the extra frequent summary and theoretical fashion,” explains Niroui. “We educate the basics of quantum mechanics and nanoscale science by immediately relating them to the design and engineering of various applied sciences.”

Because of this, the lectures are carefully built-in with design initiatives and weekly lab modules. Beginning the very first week, the scholars are contained in the lab, studying to work in a cleanroom and buying the fundamental nanofabrication, processing, and characterization abilities to analyze and implement ideas they’ve realized within the lectures — from basic science to materials synthesis, gadget design, and full programs integration.

Moderately than watching workers run the tools, the undergraduates do the work themselves utilizing simplified engineering and fabrication flows. “This was probably the most fascinating class I’ve taken at MIT, and that is regardless of it being in an space that I knew nothing about beforehand,” says EECS sophomore Eric Zhang. “It opened my eyes to a whole analysis and engineering discipline that I’d by no means have identified about in any other case.”

6.2540 Nanotechnology: From Atoms to Programs

Every week’s lab work builds off those earlier than, beginning on the nano- and micro-level and constructing as much as full-scale gadgets. College students study light-matter interactions and construct their very own microscopes and spectrometers, then use their new instruments to characterize the supplies and gadgets they make all through the time period. Additional into the semester, they examine the facility of quantum mechanics and the design of nanomaterials via chemical synthesis of quantum dots, tuning their emission coloration by controlling their dimension. The next week, they use quantum dots to design and make an LED. This lab is adopted by design and fabrication of a quantum tunneling chemical sensor primarily based on graphene-polymer composites. Within the remaining lab, the scholars use these LEDs and tunneling sensors to combine a pixelated LED show right into a handheld sensor-display system.

For his or her end-of-semester initiatives, the scholars cut up into groups to design and construct one thing solely from scratch, supplied their thought makes use of the science, supplies, and strategies lined within the class and has at the least one function smaller than 100 nanometers. Within the fall 2022 semester, the undergraduates fabricated memristors for next-generation unconventional computing; nature-inspired structured lenses to enhance LED effectivity; versatile graphene supercapacitors for photo voltaic vitality storage; a versatile pulse oximeter; tandem photo voltaic cells primarily based on band-gap engineering; and a transistor utilizing atomically-thin 2D supplies.

Along with hands-on expertise utilizing instruments for nanoscale engineering inside MIT.nano’s cleanroom and different labs, 6.2540 offers the chance for undergraduates to current on the Microsystems Annual Research Conference (MARC), co-sponsored by the Microsystems Know-how Laboratories and MIT.nano. The long-standing occasion, which brings collectively over 200 MIT college, college students, and trade companions annually, historically options graduate-level analysis.


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