MIT’s Hands-On Introduction to Nanotechnology

6.A06 is an undergraduate class that provides students with a hands-on experience of nanofabrication using the MIT.nano toolset and clean room, where first-year undergraduate student Audrey Lee loads a silicon wafer into an electron beam evaporator. To do. This is a process step of creation. Of solar cells.Credit: Gisas del Alamo

Undergraduate classes provide hands-on introduction to nanotechnology and nanoengineering. MIT.nano.

MIT undergraduates use MIT.nano’s labs to tinker with nanoscales to explore spectroscopic analysis, nanomaterial synthesis, photovoltaics, sensor manufacturing, and other topics. They also have uncommon experience at the undergraduate level — wearing bunny suits and doing hands-on research in a clean room.

In the fall semester of 2021, these students will attend two classes: 6.S059 (nanotechnology — designing from atom to everything) and 6.A06 (First.nano! – Manufacturing their own solar cell at MIT.nano Cleanroom). Did. The Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) aims to introduce nanoscience to undergraduate students through learning focused on design using related manufacturing processes and toolsets.

“Such classes can be a transformational experience for our students,” said Vladimir Bulovic, Fariborz Maseeh (1990), Chairman of Emerging Technology, Director of MIT.nano. “They spread the message that nanoscience is at your fingertips. This is not a distant abstraction, but you can access it now. MIT faculty members within MIT.nano. I am very happy to see what we can learn to inspire and shape future leaders in science and technology. “

Use simple tools to facilitate a wide range of explorations

Class 6.S059 was developed to bridge the foundation of engineering design and the actual construction of functional integration technology. It is usually divided into multiple classes and semesters.

Over a nine-week period, 18 students from five different faculties developed several nanoscale prototyping techniques at MIT.nano, including spin coating, maskless lithography, 3D printing, colloidal synthesis, sputtering, evaporation, and light microscopy. I learned. By focusing on a variety of simple tools, students were able to do a lot of work without the need for extensive professional training. Instead of seeing the teaching assistant move the equipment, these undergraduates can do their own research and, in the process, focus on the mechanics of science rather than how to operate complex setups.

Sophia Sonnert, Sidne Gregory, and Veronica Grant

From left to right: Mechanical Engineering Junior Sophia Sonnert, EECS Senior Sidne Gregory, and EECS Senior Veronica Grant are exhibiting the final project of 6.S059. The team used fluorescent inks and MIT.nano tools to print the name and MIT sticker on a flexible board. Credit: Thomas Gearty

“We wanted to teach the science of what it takes to design nanodevices and systems in an interactive and hands-on way,” said EE Landsman (1958), Assistant Professor of Career Development in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. One co-instructor, Farnaz Niroui, said. MIT. “Often, these introductory courses often take a mathematical / theoretical approach, which can make it difficult to maintain student interest. We teach it through an applied approach. I decided to let the students design and build while learning the basics in the process. “

Instead of directing how to perform each step in the weekly laboratory, Niroui and co-instructor Rajeev Ram, a professor of electrical engineering, used light to observe the final result (such as using light to observe what is invisible to the naked eye). After teaching), students will experiment with the assembly of the toolset needed to get there (such as the design and construction of their own microscopes and handheld spectrometers). The weekly project was built on the previous one. For example, undergraduates first designed their own spectrometers, then manufactured optical grids and 3D print cases to assemble tools. This gave us a hands-on introduction to CAD design, photolithography, and 3D printing, followed by playing with different light sources and testing the device in real-world applications by measuring leaf chlorophyll and quantum dot emissions. ..

Students load PicoTrack

Students load PicoTrack, a fully automated coat-and-development track system for spin coating, spray development, and paddle development on 6-inch and 8-inch wafers.Credit: Gisas del Alamo

In the final project, the students were divided into teams to design and build their own functional devices. Each project requires the use of materials and technologies covered in the class and has at least one feature less than 100 nanometers. All six teams ultimately succeeded with silver nanowires, a 7-segment pixelated display for wearable applications, a programmable OLED matrix, a light trap microstructure for thin-film solar cells, and color-adjustable light. Overcame the challenge of creating stretch sensors. -Printing of fluorescent ink on light emitting diodes and flexible substrates.

“It was exciting and impressive to see students design and build their devices after just a few weeks of instruction,” says Lam. “It showed that by actually introducing the advanced concepts of physics, we could actually provide undergraduates with useful and practical knowledge of nanotechnology.”

Syamantak Payra

6.S059 student Syamantak Payra is a senior in the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, displaying his team’s 7-segment pixel display. The group manufactured OLEDs, integrated them into the working circuit (also built), and output the temperature sensor readings. Credit: Thomas Gearty

This was the first year in the nanotechnology class with a focus on design. Niroui and Ram hope to expand it in future semesters and expand their offerings to more undergraduate students.

“Many students say they are excited to explore the world of applied science and hardware engineering further,” said Mayuran Saravanapavanantham, a teaching assistant who is a PhD candidate at EECS. “Some people have searched the MIT course list for something with the term” nano. ” Saravanapavanantham was one of the three TAs in 6.S059, along with all EECS PhD students Roberto Brenes and Peter Satterthwaite.

An early glimpse of the Nanoworld

The advice seminar “First.nano!” For first graders had a similar goal. It is to show undergraduate students what is possible on a nanoscale through hands-on experience in a clean room. Three hours each week, 6.A06 MIT students explore the MIT.nano facility and co-instructors Jesús del Alamo (Professor of Engineering) and Jorg Scholvin (Assistant Director of MIT.nano User Services).

“How can I get first graders interested in nanofabrication?” Asks Holg Schorbin. “Take them to a clean room and let them learn by doing things in the lab.” This strategy was definitely intriguing. More than 30 freshmen applied to fill one of the eight slots offered at the seminar.

Students usually do not enter the clean room during undergraduate studies, says Scholvin. Del Alamo and Shorbin want to accelerate their path to nano-related fields by introducing nanofabrication in the first semester. And these students, who have experience working in a particle-free environment, can prepare for future opportunities, such as conducting nanoscale research with faculty through the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program.

“One of First.nano’s goals was to share our passion for nanofabrication,” says Del Alamo. “MIT.nano is an extraordinary facility. We hope that by creating opportunities for these students to work and study here, they will be widely available for undergraduate research and education.”

Both 6.S059 and 6.A06 undergraduate students Microsystems Annual Research Conference (MARC), MIT.nano and Microsystems Technology Laboratories co-sponsored in January. The event, which brings together more than 200 students, faculty and industry partners to celebrate the scientific progress of nanotechnology, traditionally features presentations by graduate-level students.

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