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Summer interns' projects in MMD group

This summer seven Aalto University students had their internships in the Multifunctional Materials Design research group
Students of School of Chemical Engineering in a laboratory

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A summer internship could be an amazing opportunity to get familiar with the research process, to participate in ongoing research projects, to interact with other researchers in an international environment and to expand one's own networks. While contributing to the development of knowledge and skills, a summer job in a research group could even become a starting point for a successful research career!

In summer 2021, seven students from the School of Chemical Engineering at Aalto University completed their internships in the Multifunctional Materials Design research group.

 

More about this year's summer interns in our research group:

 

Derya Dilara Atas (M.Sc.)

Research area: research projects 'Highly electroconductive Pectin:CNTs:PDMS for sensor applications' and 'Conductive CNF:AgNWs:PDMS nanocomposite films for optoelectronics'
-Master's Programme in Chemical, Biochemical and Materials Engineering (Major in Functional Materials)

Scanning electron microscopy image of cellulose nanofiber - PDMS composite film / Image: Aalto University, Derya Atas
Cross-section SEM image of CNF:PDMS film, vacuum infiltration method / Image: Aalto University, Derya Atas

Feedback from Derya: "Between May and August 2021, I was working on two research projects as part of my summer internship. One of the projects was focused on the continuation of my Master’s thesis topic with the addition of silver nanowires (AgNWs) to CNF:PDMS composite films to make them conductive, so that they could be used in the active layers of solar cells. Another project was about carboxylic acid functionalization of carbon nanotubes (MWCNT) for the fabrication of highly conductive and sponge-like Pectin:CNT structures for sensor applications. My aim for the project was to obtain >50% concentration of acid-treated CNT-water solution with a 6.5-7 pH value - which I was able to achieve. 

Among the challenges that I faced during the internship, the most important one was trying to find a proper lab environment to be able to work with a hazardous chemical for one of the projects; however, no such suitable working environments were found. It was decided to postpone experiments with that chemical for a while to get a proper fume hood which meant that the project had to be stopped, as there was not enough time before the end of my internship neither to replace the chemical nor to find a proper lab environment. 

The summer internship felt like preparation for a PhD life where you need to focus on more than one project, help other projects, as well as take care of other diverse tasks. It was a valuable experience for me to have different responsibilities and flexible project planning, and to be involved in projects from outside of school. It was great to be part of the MMD research group and to work with amazing people who are always happy to help and give support. Being able to have fun during long hours of experiments and to see myself as part of a big family - this is how I felt while working with MMD."

It was great to be part of the MMD research group and to work with amazing people who are always happy to help and give support.

Derya Dilara Atas (MMD summer intern)

Noora Jäntti (B.Sc. student)

Research area: multifunctional wood-based materials
-Bachelor's Degree in Chemical Engineering (Major in Bioproducts)

Feedback from Noora: "During the summer I was working on a project called “Multifunctional superblack wood-based materials”. My goal was to achieve electrically conductive wood with delignified balsa wood and lignin particles - which I was able to succeed in. My summer involved a lot of lab work, giving presentations at the group meetings and having great conversations with other researchers and summer interns.

Delignified wood pieces infiltrated with lignin solution (different lignin concentrations) / photo by Aalto University, Noora Jäntti
Delignified wood pieces infiltrated with lignin solution (different lignin concentrations) / photo by Aalto University, Noora Jäntti

Coming to this internship, I was worried about my presentation and language skills, because I knew that we would be giving presentations in English. Quickly I realised that everybody in the group is extremely nice and there was no reason to be nervous. Those skills only get better when you use them, and in the group meetings we were provided with lots of extremely useful tips and tricks. I am really confident in saying that now I can give much better presentations than in the beginning of my internship. And a word of encouragement to those who might be scared of speaking English: to most people at Aalto it is their second language, and you are not expected to speak it perfectly to work here!

I hadn't had any previous experience of research work and I had never thought about becoming a researcher myself, but it all drastically changed for me during summer. I enjoyed my time in the group so much that now I’m planning on doing a PhD and becoming a researcher in the future. If you have any interest towards working in a lab or doing research, I would highly recommend applying to be a summer intern in a research group. Everybody in the MMD group has been friendly and encouraging, and this has been one of the best summer jobs I have ever had!"

I enjoyed my time in the group so much that now I’m planning on doing a PhD and becoming a researcher in the future.

Noora Jäntti (MMD summer intern)

Pinja Kangas (M.Sc. student)

Research area: biobased cryogels
-Master's Programme in Chemical, Biochemical and Materials Engineering (Major in Functional Materials)

This summer Pinja was part of the project which aimed to tailor the morphology of biobased cryogels in order to obtain porous materials with interesting acoustic properties, for example, for sound dampening applications. Moreover, she got to use her computational background and was helping to create a program that would allow to analyze data from microscopy images more efficiently by utilizing machine learning methods.

 

Ottilia Romana (B.Sc. student)

Research area: nylon-based actuators for textiles
-Bachelor’s Programme in Chemical Engineering (Major in Chemistry and Materials Science, Minor in Bioinformation Technology)

Monofilament yarn
Nylon yarn / photo by Aalto University, Maija Vaara

Feedback from Ottilia: "During this summer, I was part of the novel actuator group, and our work was mainly focused on nylon actuators. I performed many optimizing tests in order to find out what could work best for the nylon actuators. Mostly, I optimized heterochiral coils by preparing and filming them with a high-speed camera while heating with an infrared lamp. I did many different sets of coils with various properties to discover better qualities and to improve them for the future.  

The main results of my work were successful, for example, achieving vertical actuation and determining that, currently, the best annealing temperature is 180°C for 3 hours. The annealing properties were a good finding because they made the process of preparing the coils easier. Vertical actuation tests were interesting for possible future developments. In addition, it was a crucial part of my Bachelor's thesis.

The biggest challenge was associated with the machines we used as they were not designed for research work. It was rather difficult to study the best properties of nylon coils, and lots of samples were needed which resulted in many work hours. Witnessing hysteresis in the actuators was very enlightening. It was interesting to see the theories we had been discussing during my studies in action, and I am sure I will carry these learning experiences with me throughout my future career. I hope to work with such challenges in the future as well. 

Moreover, I was able to learn about testing machines and to work as part of a research group. I really appreciated all the opportunities this job gave me to challenge myself and to learn more about what I could do in the future! I would definitely recommend this job to anyone with a desire for a more hands-on approach to material technologies. It was incredibly refreshing to experience the otherwise more elusive aspects of material technology, such as the aforementioned hysteresis, in practice. I found the work very rewarding and would recommend it to anyone!"

It was incredibly refreshing to experience the otherwise more elusive aspects of material technology (e.g. hysteresis) in practice.

Ottilia Romana (MMD summer intern)

Ifrah Sheikh (B.Sc. student)

Research area: helical fibers
-Bachelor's Programme in Engineering Physics and Mathematics (Major in Mathematics and Systems Sciences, Minor in Industrial Engineering and Management) 

The topic of Ifrah's summer internship research was devoted to the interaction between different kinds of helical fibers (especially the exploration of the physical interaction of different helical fibers with each other and how the change of one of the helical fibers affects the entire system/textile). 

 

Riia Vidgren (M.Sc. student)

Research area: multidisciplinary study of soft nylon actuators and their design futures
-Master's Programme in Chemical, Biochemical and Materials Engineering (Major in Functional Materials)

Riia has been involved in the project on soft nylon actuators since summer 2020, when the project was officially launched. Initially she focused on applicability of electrically actuated nylon with prototypes, and later on evaluating the material behavior of the actuators and nylon as a polymer material. This summer she was working within a team of multidisciplinary professionals with the project expanding to equipment development, precursor synthetization, eTextile integration and user experience studies. Riia's tasks focused on standardizing equipment, evaluating and testing different models, designing novel shapes of mobility, and organizing workshops to evaluate expert and user interaction with the nylon actuators.

 

Julia Vuorinen (B.Sc. student)

Research area: icephobicity of vascular plants growing in the temperate zone
-Bachelor's Programme in Chemical Engineering (Major in Bioproducts)

Hepaticas in the dark woods / Photo by Egidijus Bielskis
Hepaticas in the dark woods / Photo by Egidijus Bielskis

Feedback from Julia: "During my summer internship in the Multifunctional Materials Design research group, I was studying plants’ cold protection strategies and the anatomy of plant leaves to find out if the leaf surfaces exhibited icephobic behavior. I ran empirical experiments on a sample of cold-tolerant plants to investigate whether they demonstrate the characteristics associated with icephobic surfaces. Furthermore, I aimed to develop a setup for running freezing tests on plant leaves.  

The summer project was my first true research experience and it surprised me in many ways. Carrying out planned tests can prove tough, especially when working with fragile and heterogeneous material such as plants. Thus, acquiring reliable results requires resilience and innovativeness. As a researcher, one needs to get accustomed to running into a dead-end, but instead of taking it as a failure, one should think of it as an opportunity to develop one’s innovative thinking. These skills that research teaches us are valuable for further career and for life in general.  

I enjoyed working in the MMD research group as it encourages its team members to share knowledge and collaborate regularly across and beyond the team. I strongly believe that learning to work as a wider research community can speed up our research by providing inspiring ideas and help with problem solving."

 

...learning to work as a wider research community can speed up our research by providing inspiring ideas and help with problem solving.

Julia Vuorinen (MMD summer intern)

Related content:

Multifunctional Materials Design

Research group led by Professor Jaana Vapaavuori

Multimaterialsgroup

MMD Summer Pilot 2021

Multifunctional Materials Design research group activities during summer 2021

MMD Summer Pilot

Recent MMD Master's Thesis presentations

Recent Master's Thesis presentations by the members of the Multifunctional Materials Design research group

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