Posted on June 19th, 2009 1 comment
We finally fixed the problem we’d been having with making nanowires, which turned out to be a broken reference electrode. Ideally, the part can take a consistent measure of potential differences regardless of what it is submerged in, which is important to (i) successful electrodeposition and (ii) consistency. So while our early nanowire growths were (as the kids might say) full of fail, with a new reference electrode, all became well.
I wound up making 8 different samples, including one pure Ni and one pure Fe, as well as six intermediate values. The pure Fe one seems little janky. Due to the electronegativity differences between Ni and Fe, the final composition ratios will end up a bit random-looking (not a clean 0:6, 1:5, etc.), but if we compensated correctly, they should be dispersed fairly evenly.
Tuesday, I will get to go to SIU’s imaging center where I’ll assist our lab’s post-doc in taking some pictures of the wires. This will be very similar to the last time I encountered an SEM, except that instead of one successful growth we have eight; it will probably take a long time. Then we’ll leave the samples with the imaging people to perform electron dispersion spectroscopy (EDS) to find the ratio of Ni to Fe in each of the samples. Here’s to hoping no Fe crept into the “pure Ni” sample!
Yesterday, I etched all of the samples. It’s a fairly simple process, but it took a few rounds of practice to get right (I will only be sure that I did in fact get it right on Tuesday). The templates we’re using dissolve in NaOH. Today I prepared them for the SEM, and they are presently good to go.
Magnetic measurements have begun, but I haven’t received all of the necessary training yet. Here’s to hoping for fast progress.
The project has received an addendum. Once I find the alloy with the most favorable magnetic qualities, I will take the solution, make more samples of various diameters, and find an optimized diameter.
The last week has been rather odd. Fortunately, everything has been working (finally). However, there was an electrician in the lab doing rewiring on Tuesday and Wednesday which hampered progress. Wednesday night and yesterday, I did a lot of work to get all of these samples fabricated and prepared, but that left a meager workload for today. This is fortunate because I had a minor alarm clock malfunction. It is also unfortunate because I find myself writing a blog entry instead of laying down some science.
Happy Father’s Day. I get to spend the weekend in St. Louis with my family. I’m going to experiment with route selection from Carbondale to St. Louis. Illinois State Highway 13, you had better be worth it.
Posted on June 11th, 2009 1 comment
Since my last entry, I have been making Ni nanowires. Today, I went to the imaging center to use the SEM with a post-doc who works with my professor. Only one of the four samples showed nanowires; the current scapegoat is a poor gold/palladium back coating (and thankfully not my handiwork). I made two of the solutions for alloy nanowires, which I will test tomorrow. Overall, the lab work should soon be in full swing, assuming that subsequent nanowire samples do not fail like samples 2-4 did. I am cautious. I am optimistic.
Today there was some kind of film crew hippie pizza gathering outside of my lab. I wish I’d had more of a chance to interact with them, but I doubt there will be a second day of shooting tomorrow. Note that there was an acoustic guitar, and they made a film in the neighboring lab (plot unknown).
Dorm life is becoming more settled, though it is not quite in equilibrium. The lack of kitchen facilities is disturbing. Current provisions include: off-brand low-fat Cheez-It knockoffs, off-brand low quality Cheerios knockoffs, quick grits, quick oats, brown sugar, 39 cent wheat bread, reprocessed turkey, provolone, 11 cent hot dogs, and of course JIF brand peanut butter. Also, tea. Without tea, Carbondale would be but a haze.
I am doing laundry tonight. Ordinarily I probably would have passed out by now, though last night I was up rather late playing Left4Dead and watching Diggnation. The laundry machines are very similar to the ones from Truman, but there are no quarter slots. You have to pay with your ID. Two of the washers were malfunctioning in some fashion to allow free washing. It seemed like a great idea at the time, but I believe there was some kind of tissue in the bottom of the drier hidden so as to cover my socks in lint. I also acknowledge the possibility that this was my fault. I am hoping that the drier will take care of this, but I fear the problem will be exacerbated. I must now go to the laundry room to retrieve my clothes.
Posted on June 3rd, 2009 2 comments
Hey everyone. I haven’t had a real opportunity to write on the blog since I got to Carbondale this past Sunday.
It has been a slow start. There have been orientations and tours of chemistry facilities and paperwork paloozas galore over the past few days. We have yet to obtain the equivalent of Banner ID numbers which are necessary to perform such activities as obtaining an ID card, connecting to the internet, parking legally, eating in the cafeteria, and doing laundry. As a result, we do not have internet connectivity in the dorms, so I am writing this during my maiden visit to the library, which is very nice.
On Monday, we watched each professor who would be directing an area of research give a ten minute presentation (though ten professorial minutes is really more like nineteen earth minutes). They were interesting, but I will admit that the day grew long.
The professor in charge of my project is out of town until Friday, so I have been operating under the supervision of a graduate student. Yesterday, he laid out the groundwork of the project I am doing and gave me substantial reading materials.
Essentially I will be fabricating and analyzing nanowires formed from various ratios of Nickel to Iron. There will be seven batches, 6:0, 5:1, 4:2, 3:3, 2:4, 1:5, and 0:6. Then I will use a scanning electron microscope to study visible morphologies of the various alloys and, using energy dispersive spectroscopy with the SEM, determine the final ratio of Iron to Nickel within each sample. If time permits, I will also perform an X-ray diffraction experiment, which I do not fully understand currently. The most important part is certain magnetic measurements under a parallel and perpindicular magnetic field. More details are to come. More specific information can be had from this link, which may or may not be broken. http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&lr=&cluster=17909959330274837858
Today I made some solutions that I will use to fabricate a 100% Nickel batch tomorrow morning. I am also working on a presentation that I will give to our group, which will hopefully land right on ten earth minutes.