Week 6: a µ-week

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Friday, July 3, 2015


Teresa Turmanian

Get this-this week kicked off with the best Monday I’ve had in a long time! My fellow interns and I took a tour of the wonderfully multi-colored American Center for Physics (ACP) where the SPS outreach and history interns have been working.  The outreach interns have been hard at work on an impressive set of demos that included glitter dancing in response to sound, can-and-string telephones, a Doppler effect lasso, and Boom Whackers just to name a few.  Then we took a tour of the ACP’s center for the history of physics where our history of physics intern showed off a few samples from the Weber collection of Humor in Physics pieces. The amusing cartoons gave us a good laugh and worked up our appetite just in time for a tasty catered lunch.  While we munched we had the chance to talk with some more of the AIP directors and chairs about our plans for the foreseeable future, which was super helpful!  I now have an abundance of connections whose careers represent the fantastic variety in careers that a physics degree can lead to.  After lunch we met with one of the directors of AAPT and he picked our brains about what we would like to see improved with our respective physics programs.  Then I went with my fellow SPSers back to their apartment complex in D.C and chilled out after our full day.  Later we embarked on a lengthy trek (all of one metro stop) for a hang-out session at the cozy Tabard Inn.  We lounged and chatted on their supremely soft sofas while enjoying some jazz guitar music. Ahhhh.

Tuesday finally brought us some success with our transfer process! Yahooooo!  The secret--to not do what we were told to do.  Intelligent disobedience for the win! Basically we opted to not clean the dummy substrate after depositing MoS2 flakes on it. Our advisor, however, was thoroughly stumped and irked that including that cleaning step seems to inhibit the transfer process.  We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

 We spent Wednesday trying to reproduce yesterday’s successful results.  First, we treated some new dummy substrates to the luxurious three-phase spa treatment consisting of baths in acetone, isopropyl alcohol, and de-ionized water, and finished off with a nitrogen gas blowout. Upon bestowing them with MoS2 flakes one substrate returned to the spa facility, commonly known as a fume hood, for a bonus cleansing treatment while the other was forced to endure the sticky residue left on it after depositing the flakes.  From that point on both dummies received the same spa package to achieve a successful transfer and rid them of their flakes.  Long story short…….the sticky substrate successfully expelled its flakes while the clean one did not…..which is the exact opposite of what we were expecting. Hmmmmmm.  My research partner and I concocted several theories as to why which we look forward to bouncing off our advisor.

Thursday we embarked on hunt for flakes worthy of sensor-hood.  We spent the entire day at the optical microscope systematically scanning our target substrates to identify flakes of the right size to advance to the next round of the exciting, high-stakes game, 

Who Wants to be a Protein Sensor

And we found candidates! So folks, be sure to tune in for Round 2: Atomic Force Microscopy next week.

Teresa Turmanian