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2008 SPS National Interns
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Barbara Dunlap   Barbara Dunlap
Allegheny College, Meadville, PA
Internship: National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST)
• Introduction
• Online Journal
• Final Presentation
Online Journal
Final Presentation Week of July 28, 2008 Week of July 7, 2008 Week of June 16, 2008
  Week of July 21, 2008 Week of June 30, 2008 Week of June 9, 2008
Week of August 4, 2008 Week of July 14, 2008 Week of June 23, 2008 Week of June 2, 2008

Week of August 4, 2008

On Saturday Mary and I went to see the Jim Hanson exhibit. It was amazing. I love the Muppets and everything else Jim Hanson creates. When we got back we watched the Labyrinth. I slept though most of it. It was probably only the 100th time I ve watched it so I don t think I missed much. Sunday, I began the process of moving out.

August 3- August 6
Monday afternoon, we had the tour of NIST. Kunal planed all of it. We got a tour of the Center for Neutron Research and wondered around the NIST campus. Kunal and I also showed everyone the labs that we did all our experimenting in. I spent Tuesday organizing all the research I did over the summer for my advisor. It took a lot longer than I expected it would. Than Wednesday, everyone went to ACP to discuss our experience.

Over all I had an amazing summer. I really enjoyed doing the research I did at NIST and being able to experience DC a lot more. The most important thing I learned this summer was that I need to do a better job writing for my lab notebook. Also, backing up and saving documents regularly is very important. My favorite part about this internship, that I don t think would be possible from any other internship, was seeing what other job possibilities there are with a physics major. Personally, I don t think I would be very good at outreach, but seeing what other people did with it was very informative. Advice I would give other interns would be to take full advantage of living in DC. It is filled with so many things to do, and I think we covered most of them but definitely not all.

Another great thing about this internship is that when the SOCK video is emailed to all our SPS chapters, I ll be able to say that I spent a summer with those people and yes they are really that crazy and fun.

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Week of July 28, 2008

So Friday, a bunch of us went to a sushi place for dinner. It was quite amusing to watch Dan put too much wasabi sauce on his sushi and watch his reaction. Saturday, I met up with some friends from school at Pentagon Mall. We ended up spending all day there, mostly catching up about what we had been doing all summer.

July 28-August 1
Over the weekend the paint dried and I tested it to make sure it was conductive. At first, I couldn't get any current to flow through the devices, but it turned out that I didn't put the probes down deep enough. So Monday afternoon I attached the wires and let them dry over night. Tuesday, was our practice day at ACP. Since I had to go back to work, I gave my presentation early and left after lunch. The good thing was that the devices still switched when the voltage was applied while flexing. The bad thing was that I had to present last on Wednesday. When I got home after work Tuesday, I asked what the order was and no one remembered it. So I had to wait until Wednesday morning to find out when I was presenting and it turned out to be last. I guess it was punishment for leaving early on Tuesday But my presentation went well and people said I did a good job. Even with my final presentation being over, my advisor wanted me to do more experiments. Thursday, I tried to do more testing while the devices were being flexed, but none of the wires would stay attach to the devices. So I just tested devices that I hadn't had time to test before and attached wires to more devices. Friday, I wanted to test more devices but someone had planned on using the probe station all day and since I had been monopolizing it for the last week, I figured it was time for me to take a break. So I have been organizing my research from this summer for my advisor, so she will be able to use it for the paper about what these devices can do.

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Week of July 21, 2008

This weekend, Mary, Logan and Justin all went up to Canada for the AAPT meeting. So I had the room all to myself and stayed in bed all day Saturday. It was a nice chance to catch up on sleep that I have missed out on during the week.

July 21-July 25
Last Wednesday, Kunal and I found out that the people at NIST wanted us to have a practice run through of our final presentations, since our real final presentation is next week. Our practice was planned for Friday but my advisor wanted me to give my talk to her Thursday. So all week I worked on my final presentation and only ran a few tests. Thursday morning I was making changes to my presentation and the computer crashed, so I lost all the changes, stupid windows. But I was able to redo all the changes to give my advisor my talk Thursday afternoon. Friday, we had our practice and it went pretty well. It was nice having this practice because I was all done with my Powerpoint slides and already knew what I was going to say for the real final presentation.

The one thing to help my research this week was to use sliver paint to create new probe areas that would be used to attach wires to the devices. This would allow us to apply a voltage and measure the current while the devices were flexing. Since the paint wasn't dry on Friday, I had to wait until Monday to tests the devices.

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Week of July 14, 2008

This weekend some of my friends from college came down from Pittsburgh to visit, so I spent most of the weekend with them. One of my friends was living in France for the last year, so I hadn't seen her in a while.

July 14- July 18
This week marked the two week point until final presentations, which meant that I have been spending all possible time testing devices. On Monday, John finally brought the flexer in. So I got to start the flexing tests. It took all of Monday to figure out how to use the flexer to show that the devices could be flexed. We had to modify it a little bit to make sure it would flex the right amount, but the design of the whole thing is pretty cool. The rest of the week, I tested devices flexed them tested them again and then more flexing. Thursday afternoon, nothing seemed to be working. The devices wouldn't hold the high state so I could do the flexing test. It was quite a relief to be able to forget all of that and go to the Dylla's picnic. The picnic was a great chance to see people I hadn't seen since CNFS or the first day at ACP and relax. Well until Linda pulled out the water guns. Out of all the interns I remained the driest. Personally, I didn't want to ride the metro home at 10 o clock at night soaking wet. Friday at work, things were actually working so I got a lot accomplished. Now only one week left and there is too much to do.

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Week of July 7, 2008

Saturday, Mary and I went to the National Gallery of Art to see the exhibit about Afghanistan. It was pretty cool and extremely crowded, since it was still 4th of July weekend. After that I went home because my family was having some friends over. Instead of sticking around to play games with our parents, the kids decided to go see WALL-E, which was an incredibly cute movie. I enjoyed it so much, that I went to see it again on Sunday with a friend.

July 7 - July 11
At work this week, it was more of the same. I tested devices and made more samples. Now that we have a bunch of samples that work, we can move on to do different kinds of tests. The flexer should be finished on Monday, and I'll be able to start doing experiments with that. The one abnormality in the week, was that on Thursday the whole EEEL had a safety stand down, which meant that no one wall allowed to do work in the labs and that everyone analyzed the safety of their labs. For me that meant that I could work at home, since all I would be doing was reading papers and analyzing my data. So in the morning I worked and wondered around DC in the afternoon.

Outside of work, Mary and I watched six episodes of How I Met Your Mother on Monday night. We usually only watch two episodes a night, but we had nothing better to do so we watch six. Tuesday, I had dinner with my mom and brother since half the group went to a play. Wednesday nothing happened and Thursday, Mary and I went to Pentagon Row to have dinner and hear Gonzo's Nose, which is an 80 s cover band, but played more modern music than 80 s, which was quite disappointing. What made it worse was that they weren't that good. At least it was free and we had a good dinner.

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Week of June 30, 2008

Saturday everyone went to Baltimore, except for me. So I spent most of the day watching movies and doing nothing. That night, one of my friends was having a party at her house, which I went to. Sunday, I saw Wanted with some friends from home.

June 30- July 4
The goal for this week was to figure out how to print contacts for the devices instead of evaporating them, which ended not happening. Since this was the first time anyone has tried using sliver ink, there was no one who could help us with it. The first attempt with the ink, it ended up clogging the printer head. So I spent the four day week doing the same thing. I retested sample made with the old sol gel, finished making the samples with the new sol gel and tested them. I also read articles because the probe machine was being used. The exciting thing is that I am positive that my samples work. Now that I have working samples, I can start using them to perform more exciting tests with the flexer, once it is made.

So Friday we had off to celebrate the Fourth of July. In the morning, we went to the parade and watch the whole thing. It was quite long and monotonous. Once you have seen one marching band, you've seen them all. During the parade, our group got divided and Justin, Jenna, Paul, Mary, Mary's friend Liz, and I got lunch and went to the Folklife Festival. Paul, Jenna and I spent most of out time at the Bhutan and NASA exhibits. We skipped the Texas exhibit because it started raining and because, well, it's Texas. It rained off and on, while we were waiting to go see the fireworks. Paul, Jenna, Dan and I walked down to the Lincoln Memorial to watch the fireworks, and it wasn't raining, but as soon as we got there it started sprinkling. It wasn't enough rain to stop the fireworks and we ended up watching them with diffraction glasses on, which made the display pretty cool. The fireworks took only 10 minutes, which seemed pretty short to me and we went home. It was nice living in the city and being able to walk home and not worry about the metro.

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Week of June 23, 2008

Monday was the ACP picnic. So Kunal and I got to NIST at 9 and left at 1. There wasn't much I could get done in four hours, so I worked on the update presentation that we have every other Wednesday. And I got a chance to show Nadine the data from Thursday. She told me that I should test the samples at higher voltages to see if we could get them to switch.

Tuesday morning, Nadine and I retested the samples and discovered that they wouldn't switch. In the afternoon, we made more samples, this time with aluminum contacts instead of silver ones. Nadine helped me with this evaporation because aluminum is an awkward metal and doesn't melt nicely.

Wednesday, after our presentations, I evaporated a second set of aluminum samples, put them all into the glove box and spun on the sol gel. For half I used the old sol gel and the other half had the new gel spun on. The purpose of this was to compare the old sol gel to the new sol gel and see if it would work a year after having been made.

Wednesday was also Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF). I had no idea what to expect. There were a ton of exhibits and it was a bit overwhelming and incredibly crowded. After getting a nice tour of the Rayburn building on out way out, we went to the Capital City Brewing Company for dinner. It was a great brewpub. Both the food and the beer were delicious. The entire night ended up being a lot of fun.

Thursday was the Semiconductor Electronics Division picnic, which was not like the ACP picnic. We basically just had lunch outside. I also was able to evaporate the top contact for three of my samples. So I was able to characterize the new samples on Friday. I am excited because they are much more promising than the previous samples. And hopefully, the other set will be just as good.

Also on, Thursday I found out that the sliver ink had arrived. This is exciting because instead of evaporating the contacts on to the samples, we are going to start printing them on with a printer. So hopefully, next week I will have some samples with printed contacts that I will be able to test. These will be much smaller and probably be more useful in the end.

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Week of June 16, 2008

Saturday, all of us got up and went to Pentagon City Mall. We ended up wondering around there for a while. Which I though was weird because we had been doing touristy stuff and to me going to Pentagon is something I do regularly. Sunday was father's day, so my family took my dad out to brunch and hung out a home for most of the day.

Monday June 16- Friday, June 20
This week I finally got to make my samples, which took 2 days. This is because two different contacts have to be evaporated on to the transparencies and each evaporation takes about 3 hours to get the machine ready and the gel had to sit out for another hour, and I wasn't going to spend another 7 hour day at work. So Monday, I evaporated the bottom contact and spun the sol-gel on and waited until Tuesday to evaporate the second contact.

Wednesday, I learned how to use the probe machine to characterize my devices. Then Thursday I spent all day running the tests on the devices. I only made 3 samples but each sample has 4 devices on it, so I had 12 different devices to test. It was exciting to finally have data, but the results I got didn't look like what I should be getting. And since my advisor is going until Monday, I have to wait to find out if I wasted a day testing bad samples or if the data I have is usable.

Friday, started out with another batch of safety training because of the incident with plutonium at the Boulder campus. And I finished off the day with organizing my data and cleaning glassware.

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Week of June 9, 2008

Friday night we went to a Nats game. It was probably some of the most boring 3+ hours of my life. The most interesting part was the fireworks at the end of the game. Saturday and Sunday we didn't do too much because how hot it was outside. Saturday, we had planed to wonder around the mall, but didn't leave until 4:00 and most of the museums close at 5:00. So we ended up just going to the National Archives. Sunday, was spent recovering from a week doing work.

Monday, June 9, 2008-Friday, June 13, 2008
Most of this week was spent preparing to make the sol-gel for the devices I am going to do experiments on. Monday, I cleaned the glassware that I would be using. Tuesday, we discovered that the hotplate we were going to use didn't work and had to find a new one. Also, we assembled the glassware to make sure everything worked. Wednesday, I learned how to operate a glove box, which is a sealed container that has argon gas in it instead of regular air. This is where the sol-gel would be stored, because it begins to gel when exposed to oxygen. Thursday, Nadine was gone, so I read papers to figure out what kinds of experiments we wanted to do on the devices once they were made. Finally on Friday, we actually made the sol-gel, which took 7 hours, mostly because it had to be cook for 6 hours. So I didn't get home from work until 8:00, this was partly due to arriving late to work, because the power went out on the red line when we got to Metro Center. When I finally got home, all of use walked to Georgetown to get dinner.

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Today we went to the American Physics Center (APC) in College Court Maryland, which is just the name of the building. It is home to the American Institute of Physics (AIP) and three of its member groups, American Physical Society (APS), American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), and American Association of Physics in Medicine (AAPM). The other seven members are Acoustical Society of America (ASA), American Astronomical Society (AAS), American Crystallographic Association (ACA), American Geophysical Union (AGU), Science & Technology of Materials, Interfaces, and Processing (AVS), Optical Society of America (OSA) and the Society of Rheology (SoR). The main point of going to APC was to get some know be introduced to the important people who worked there and get a better idea of what we were expected to do this summer. While we were there, we got a tour of the building and talked to people from APS, AAPT, and the AIP statistical research. We also got to wonder around and meet people.

After our orientation, Gary White drove Kunal and I out to Gaithersburg Maryland to see National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). At NIST, Kunal and I met our advisors and got a tour of the labs. We are working in the Electronic and Electrical Engineering Laboratory (EEEL) division of NIST. More specifically, I am working in the field of macroelectroncis, because the devices I am working with are not incredibly tiny. My advisor is named Nadine Gengel-Hackett. Before the internship, I had received some information about what I would be doing, but in person she was able to explain it better. What I will be doing experiments on are flexible electronic devices. These devices are made on overhead transpierces, like the kind used in school, so they are quite flexible. So I will be testing theses devices to make sure that they work when being flexed.

After another orientation, Kunal and I got to experience the first of many hour long commutes home.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008
The first order of business when we got to NIST this morning was to get our security badges. All the buildings at NIST are connected but you need a badge to get into all of them, so with out the badges we were kind of helpless. Once we were settled in with our badges and access to the computer, I started reading articles about the research I would be doing. Nadine also has a SURF student working with her, who has already been here a week and has started to learn her way around. So in the afternoon, Nadine taught both of us how to use the evaporator, a machine that we both will be using. To evaporate a metal takes a lot of time. Since it is done in a vacuum chamber, we must vent and re-vacuum the machine before we can evaporate. This took the rest of the day.

Yesterday, Jenna, Mary and I had decided to go see Sex and the City. So after work we took the metro to Court House, on my side of the river, and saw the movie. We were going to walk to the movie theater in Georgetown, but it was raining and to get to Court House there isn't much walking involved.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Once a month at NIST, at least in the EEEL department, they have Journal Club. Someone picks a journal article and all the researchers come together and discuss it, and today was that day. The main motivation for this is to be aware of interesting things going on in different fields, because some times scientist get so caught up in their work they don t pay attention to anything else. I had gotten and read the article yesterday. I thought that Journal Club would be more a discussion of the science of the article, which I mostly understood, but really they were criticizing the actual experiment. The main problem with the article that had been chosen was that it didn't give enough specifics of how they did things. This can be hard in only a 5 page paper, but some of the information that they left out was really important for understanding the experiment. I spent the rest of the day designing the set up for making the sol gel for my devices, doing more reading, and talking to Nadine about the kinds of experiments I could do on the devices. That was until the thunderstorm came.

So around 3:00 it starts raining. At first it s not too bad but it keeps getting darker and winder out side. Then the power goes completely off. It was only off for a few seconds. I was mostly thinking about all the experiments that were running that now had to be done all over again. Everything seemed like it was fine after that. But then someone announced that the national weather service had us under a tornado warning and everyone had to go to the basement. When that was over there wasn't much time to do anything else, also only one of the three transformers working, so it was possible for the power to go out again.

Thursday, June 5, 2008
We had planed on doing an evaporation today, but since the power went out, the cryopump had to be regenerated. Since we didn't know how long it would take, we just pushed it off until Friday. Instead, we decided on the procedure for making the sol-gel and gathering the equipment needed. We had to talk to a lot of people to figure out where things had be moved to and find replacements for things still in use. We found almost everything and got permission to use the different machines necessary.

Justin had decided to make fajitas for dinner, sometime yesterday. While people were out getting more food and doing other things, I was recruited to chop. It ended up being quite delicious.

Friday, June 6, 2008
Today was more of the same, gathering stuff, editing the procedure, and reading more articles. We did actually do a successful evaporation. And I finally have all the supplies needed and a good procedure to make the sol gel, hopefully by the end of next week, if everything goes well. We have the baseball game tonight to go to. Which will be only the second baseball game I have ever been to, and the first one was to see our band play the National Anthem, not to see the game. I hope that it will be interesting and that it isn't too hot on Saturday to wonder around DC.

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