The goal of my project was to investigate the mechanical properties of thin nickel films. I conducted a series of electrodepostion experiments on an ITO substrate that used varied electrolytes. I prepared samples of 10µm nickel films, cut them into dog-bone shapes, and tested their tensile strength in a Psylotech machine. I then took the data and wrote MATLAB scripts that parsed the data into meaningful charts. After amassing data on pure electrolytes, I proceeded to mix them in different rations and look into the literature to find different methods and additives to improve the mechanical properties of the film.
Throughout my time in the lab, I learned a lot about the research process and how to deal with frustration in the lab. There were a lot of knowledgeable graduate students in the lab that helped me sort through my problems, troubleshoot issues, and guide me to towards my project’s goals. I learn new chemical methods, how to keep an organized and thorough lab notebook, and how to parse data into meaningful charts.
Working in the Pikul Research Group exposed me to new ideas and interesting people on the cutting edge of mechanical engineering and experimental battery technology. Whether it was weekly lab meeting, chatting with others in the lab, or looking through the literature for new ideas, I was constantly learning and asking questions. This experience helped me understand what it meant to work in a research institution and showed me possible career opportunities in the field of research. While I enjoyed my experience working with chemicals, I found the MATLAB scripting more exciting and as a result, changed my major to computer engineering.