1. Fabrication and testing of semiconductor chemical sensors:
Various sensors and gauges, from smoke detectors to Tsunami surveillance system, have been widely used in our modern world. They have shown increasing importance in further probing the environment around us for knowledge and pre-warning etc. Chemical sensors based on semiconductors are one of them. The teacher who participates in this project will be trained to fabricate simple ion sensitive semiconductor field effect transistors (ISFET) on Si in the nanofabrication laboratory. The teacher will test the response of the ISFETs to various ions and molecules. The teacher will also work closely with a graduate student and a REU student, who work on GaN-based ISFET, comparing the sensor performance and underlying science. This project requires the teacher to interact with researchers from various disciplines, including physics, chemistry and electrical engineer. The research component will spread over 4-6 weeks and 1-2 weeks can be used in incorporating modern semiconductor physics and interdisciplinary nano-technology in the HS physics curriculum.
Huili (Grace) Xing
2. Nanoelectronic Circuits and Devices:
Nanoelectronics represent a path toward the continued miniaturization of computers and other electronic systems. In particular, single electrons represent the smallest element that can be used to store and process information. Positions will be available for teachers to work with the group of Professor Gregory Snider on nanoelectronic devices that operate using a single electron, and interfacing these devices to conventional CMOS circuits. The research will involve the fabrication and measurement of devices and circuits, providing a wide range of experiences. A teacher involved with this project will gain insight into the issues involved in the ultimate scaling of devices and the future of electronics.
Professor Greg Snider
3. Energy Scavenging Devices and Circuits:
As global energy consumption increases, it is important to consider ways to extract energy from underutilized sources like human movements, vibrations, sound, and the electromagnetic spectrum. This project will explore ways to extract and store energy for the powering of wireless sensors and portable devices. The project will provide hands-on experience in the Notre Dame Nanofabrication Facility or in a wide variety of electronics test labs. The project can be tailored according to a teachers interest and should provide materials and demonstrations for the classroom.
Professor Alan Seabaugh
in Nanotechnology. Several additional projects
are available for teachers in the general area of nanotechnology.
They will be directed by Professor Wolfgang Porod. Specific
topics will be decided in discussion with individual
teachers to match their interests and experience. Possible
projects include directed reading and study of selected
topics in nanotechnology for inclusion in the classroom,
development of relevant lab exercises and student projects
for use in the classroom, and also research work in conjunction
with graduate students.
5. Gallium Nitride Nanowire Electronics. Gallium Nitride (GaN) is a new “wonder semiconductor”, which has revolutionized the electronics industry since late 1990s by providing the foundation for short wavelength lasers (the Blu-Ray DVD technology), highly energy efficient white LEDs for solid-state lighting, and ultrafast high-power transistors. These semiconductors promise to enable a host of as-yet unrealized technologies such as high-efficiency solar cells, ultrafast optical switches, deep-UV light sources for biological imaging, water-treatment and purification, remote flame detection (for forest fires), and high-voltage switches for hybrid vehicle engines. At Notre Dame, these semiconductors (GaN, InN, and AlN) are grown by Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE) which allows for the control of the materials down to atomic layer thicknesses (see Figure 1). These materials are then made into various electronic and optical devices such as those mentioned above using nanofabrication tools, and tested. As part of this RET, the particiapting high-school teacher will work directly with GaN nanowires grown by MBE on Silicon substrates, and will characterize their electronic and optical properties. Towards the end of the project, the participant will fabricate a Nanowire field-effect transistor and an ultraviolet photodetector (devices that form the backbone of the communications industry), and will characterize these devices.
Figure 1: GaN nanowires grown on Silicon substrates, and its electron-microscope image showing atomic layers arranged in a periodic fashion.
Professor Depdeep Jena
6. Software Radio: Today's Crystal Radio Set
There is a growing trend in research and development of wireless communications systems to implement core radio functionality as software algorithms instead of hardware circuits. Software implementations have many advantages, such as leveraging the
microprocessor advances that fuel Moore's law, allowing the use of high-level languages such as C/C++, and upgrading radios as standards evolve via software downloads instead of hardware redesigns. With open-source software (for example, GNU Radio) and inexpensive (under $1000) hardware accessories for a personal computer, students can
experiment with algorithms for implementing a variety of wireless protocols, including for example amateur radio formats, GSM for cellular phones, 802.11 for wireless local-area networks, and RFID transmissions.
Researchers in the Department of Electrical Engineering have several research grants supporting work in software radio. The laboratory includes workstations, software repositories, documentation, and facilities for hardware prototyping. Roughly 4 graduate students, 3-5 undergraduate students, and a senior engineer are regularly involved in these efforts. The group focuses on open-source software and hardware, with an eye toward developing affordable course materials for students at all levels and making them available via the Internet.
Lying at the intersection of software, electronics, and mathematics, software radio could be an ideal subject for engaging high school students to a breadth of science and technology issues. Projects for teachers in the RET program could include: gaining general exposure to
> software radio; (co-)developing course materials suitable for high school students; and (co-)designing more affordable computer accessories that enable software radio.
Professor Nicholas Laneman