Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Undergraduate research opportunities may be available with the following faculty:

Seth Bank head shot photo

Seth Bank

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering



Our group is interested in the photonic device applications of nanostructured materials. Examples of past undergraduate research projects include laser fabrication, fluorescence measurements, photodetector fabrication and characterization. Laboratory research and meetings are generally conducted at the Microelectronics Research Center (UT Pickle Research Campus).

Benny Freeman head shot photo

Benny Freeman

McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering



The Freeman laboratory conducts research on the synthesis and characterization of novel, polymer-based materials for gas and liquid separation membranes.

Rui Huang head shot photo

Rui Huang

Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics



The Huang laboratory studies the mechanics and mechanical properties of materials by modeling and simulations.

Brian Korgel head shot photo

Brian Korgel

McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering



Silicon and Germanium Nanowire Aerogels:
This project focuses on the development of gel and aerogel networks of semiconductor nanowires (NWs), especially those made silicon (Si) and germanium (Ge). Si and Ge NWs are made using a solution-based chemical methods called supercritical fluid-liquid-solid (SFLS) and solution-liquid-solid (SLS) growth. The crystalline NWs are composed of materials that are brittle in bulk form, but in NW form, they are strong and mechanically flexible, and can even exhibit some degree of ductility. These mechanical properties combined with the high aspect ratios of the NWs have enabled their incorporation into a variety of different forms, including non-woven fabrics, paper, and polymer-nanowire composites. In this project, the effects of various surface chemical treatments of the NWs and gel processing conditions on aerogel formation will be studied. Nanowires offer a unique opportunity to make aerogels that are much sturdier than those made to date, combined with the optical and electronic properties of the semiconductor materials. One of the goals of the project is to develop a class of NW gel and aerogel materials with very high specific surface area, robust mechanical properties, and reconfigurable structure.
The student will learn and carry out solution-phase synthesis of Si and Ge nanowires using SFLS and SLS approaches, and then fabricate gels and aerogels with these materials. The student will carry out indentation experiments to determine the mechanical properties of the nanowires, as well as various imaging and spectroscopic measurements to fully characterize the aerogel structure and chemical properties.

Keji Lai head shot photo

Keji Lai

Department of Physics



Our group studies a wide range of advanced materials, such as 2D semiconductors, topological insulators, multiferroics, and strongly correlated systems, by nanoscale microwave imaging, electrical transport, and optical techniques. We aim to uncover novel quantum phenomena and to explore innovative applications in these fascinating condensed matter systems. Typically, undergraduate researchers in our laboratory work under the direction of a graduate student or postdoc mentor. Laboratory research and meetings are generally conducted at the Physics building (main campus).

Elaine Li head shot photo

Xiaoqin (Elaine) Li

Department of Physics



The Li group investigates light-matter interaction on the nanoscale. We use various laser spectroscopy to study fundamental excitations in solids such as excitons, phonons, plasmons, and magnons. We are particularly interested in novel materials with exotic quantum properties, photonic and spintronic materials with unique properties. Undergraduate students often assist in our projects via preparing samples, designing mechanical components, and performing various characterization measurements such as photoluminescence and Raman scattering.

Ken Liechti head shot photo

Kenneth Liechti

Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics



Areas of interest:
1. Mechanics of adhesion and friction (nano to structural)
2. Fracture mechanics

Nate Lynd head shot photo

Nathaniel Lynd

McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering



Undergraduate students in the Lynd group carry out a variety of research projects depending on student experience and interest. Students will work closely with a graduate student mentor originally, but are expected to become independent members of the group over the course of one semester. Undergraduate students will participate in group meetings, and meet occasionally with the PI to discuss research results. Current projects include the design and synthesis of charged macromolecules, electrically conductive materials, and block polymers.

Edward Yu head shot photo

Edward Yu

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering



Our laboratory conducts research on topics in semiconductor materials and devices, and in nanoscience and nanotechnology generally. Undergraduates in our laboratory work on a variety of projects in these areas, with project specifics depending on current research interests and activities in the lab. Representative recent projects have included development and implementation of nanoscale patterning technologies for light management in solar cells and related applications; optical characterization of two-dimensional materials; and scanned probe microscopy of nanoscale electromechanical material behavior. Typically, undergraduate researchers in our laboratory work under the direction of a graduate student mentor on a project related to that graduate student's PhD thesis research, participate in weekly research group meetings, and (individually) meet weekly with Professor Yu. Laboratory research and meetings are generally conducted at the Microelectronics Research Center (UT Pickle Research Campus).