My PURM experience this summer was an immersion in the ongoing research on Transition Metal Dichalcogenides (TMD), a class of materials garnering much attention and under extensive research for their interesting properties and promising applications. Throughout summer, I explored various stages of TMD research: the growth and preparation of materials, the relocation of materials onto different platforms, the characterization of these materials using various analytical instruments, and the application of these materials in forefronts of technology.
A good portion of summer was dedicated to a personal project – the optimization of growth conditions for a type of TMD called Molybdenum Disulfide (MoS2). In growing any TMD, minute differences in lab conditions and equipment and in experimental variables such as temperature and chemical concentrations can cause considerable differences in the characteristic of the material produced. It was my job to optimize the growth procedures for the form of MoS2 that my Primary Investigator was interested in. The optimization process was a combination of extensive reading of published research, careful selection of previously successful procedures to take note of, and systematic trial-and-error of repeated growths to find the optimal values for the experimental variables. After several weeks of laborious research – with unexpected adversity along the way in the form of inconsistent humidity – I was able to zero in on ideal procedures for producing the substrate-wide, monolayer film of MoS2 desired for research in this lab.
My PURM experience was an opportunity for me to reaffirm my passion for this field. Every day in Professor Drndic’s lab is a glimpse into the future – whether we are developing thinner membranes for more efficient water desalination, attempting to find means to control the speed of DNA translocation, or having group lunches on Fridays for which all sit outside and appreciate nature for what it is. Every ongoing research project has the power to completely transform life as we know it and usher in a new era for humanity.
Such scientific drive is made possible only by the pooling of knowledge from a plethora of scientific disciplines, and this is another daily aspect of the Drndic Lab. In what is seemingly a few chips of silicon lies a blend of optical physics, supramolecular chemistry, electrical engineering, organic chemistry, and quantum mechanics – without any of which the research cannot not move forward. The graduate students in this lab demonstrate mastery of a wide variety of subjects and pool their knowledge to great effect, and seeing that every day, I felt a strong sense of cohesive and cooperation.
My time in the Drndic Lab was a valuable opportunity to observe and experience the forefront of ongoing scientific research, and has stiffened my resolve to pursue my future career in scientific areas that encompass a collaboration of diverse disciplines. I am confident that the golden glimpse of intellectual richness that this PURM experience demonstrated will fuel my own drive through the intellectual journey through college, graduate education, and beyond.