Open UROP Positions (13)

Challenging research opportunities exist for undergraduates of all levels in Course 22, especially for freshmen, through MIT's Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). Join our faculty, students, and staff on cutting-edge research projects for credit or pay, and get hands-on experience on the research that the NSE department has to offer. Our UROPs are all NO EXPERIENCE REQUIRED unless stated otherwise.

You are encouraged to browse the research sections of the NSE website to learn more about the areas of research that Department faculty are engaged in. Undergraduate research opportunities may not always be listed with MIT's UROP Office. Heather Barry in the NSE Undergraduate Program Office and Prof. Matteo Bucci, NSE's UROP Coordinator, will help you find a UROP in Course 22.

Check out our Open UROP Positions to start your research career in Course 22 today!

Fast and efficient representation of uncertainty in computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations

Contact: Michael Acton
Posting Date: 2018-09-25
UROP Description: The standard modeling of turbulence in computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations introduces significant error and uncertainty when compared to experimental or turbulence resolving simulation. This project seeks to represent this uncertainty through the use of Gaussian Random Fields (GRF), whose parameters are inferred numerically with Markov Chain Monte Carlo or other techniques. The student will work with a 5th year graduate PhD student to help refine the current uncertainty representation in terms of simplicity and efficiency. This will enable fast uncertainty quantification for realistic Nuclear Reactor flow simulations. Potential areas of research include the simulation of non-stationary GRF represented by the Karhunen-Loeve (KL) Expansion and sampling with the Polynomial Chaos Expansion (PCE) approach.
Prerequisites: is expected to have some mathematics background, and ideally some understanding of correlated multivariate Gaussian distributions and sampling algorithms. No background with CFD or fluid dynamics is required.

Design of Ultra-High Temperature Heat Pump for Use with LWRs

Contact: Prof. Michael Driscoll
Posting Date: 2018-09-25
UROP Description: One of the motivating factors for development of gas, liquid metal, and salt-cooled reactors is their capability for serving high temperature industrial heat loads. The alternative proposed here is to develop a conceptual design for an ultra-high-T heat pump which could take heat from an LWR at about 300°C and heat a working fluid up to approximately 600°C. The simplest approach would be to compress turbine inlet steam, but this leads to high pressure: e.g. ~6000 psi. Thus, the goal of the proposed project is the development of alternative solutions.

Low Cost Digital Medical Radiography Systems for the Developing World

Contact: Dr. Richard Lanza
Posting Date: 2018-09-02

Images taken with a simple scanner.

UROP Description: Digital radiography has become the de facto standard for x-ray imaging in the developed world. Unfortunately, its advantages - which include ease of image acquisition, visualization, processing, archiving and potential for teleradiology - have not come to large parts of the developing world, especially rural areas, due to cost and complexity. Infrastructure issues such as the lack of adequate roads, inconsistent or nonexistent power grids and water supplies (required for film processing), little internet access and limited numbers of physicians add to the difficulties of using this technology. Since the primary driver of cost and complexity in these systems is the digital detector, we propose to develop a low cost digital x-ray system optimized for rural and low-income communities. This project combines groups at MIT, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT-B).
Our approach is based on a mixture of increasingly sophisticated but readily available mass-produced technologies such as consumer-grade digital imaging, inexpensive portable computing, and mobile phones. The technical implementation is conceptually straightforward: one or more low-cost cameras, under the control of a small laptop computer, image a fluorescent x-ray screen that converts X-ray photons into light photons. Additional optics may be interposed between the cameras and the fluorescent screen to increase the numerical aperture of the system. The images are captured digitally and then using the laptop, processed and sent to a central facility by internet or cell phone, bypassing the need for physicians on site.
Although such digital systems have indeed been proposed for years, recent developments in high-resolution Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras based on large format low-noise CMOS imagers have the potential to revolutionize this process and to produce diagnostic images comparable in quality to typical current digital images but at greatly reduced cost. Measurements performed by our group on these cameras have shown that they have the required sensitivity and low noise needed in this application. Thanks to the large mass market for the components used, our design results in a significantly lower cost than special purpose devices. We have also looked at modifications to standard flat-bed scanners as a potential alternative approach.
This project will involve a combination of optics, image processing and hands-on building and will be an active collaboration with radiologists at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. The long term goal is to have a significant impact on health care in the developing world.

High pressure and high temperature testing of nuclear fuel

Contact: Prof. Koroush Shirvan
Posting Date: 2018-08-15


UROP Description: Want to operate high pressure (up to 40 MPa) and high temperature (up to 2000 C) equipment to study different nuclear fuel pellet and cladding material? Ever wonder what happens when you put materials with latest and greatest fabrication techniques at pressurized water reactor (15 MPa, 300 C) operating conditions? You can do all this and more while working alongside NSE graduate students and research engineers. No prior research experience is required. All applicants must pass appropriate safety training before start of the UROP. While experimental work is the priority, modeling and simulation UROPs on the similar subject matter could be also of interest depending on the applicant skill level.

Inertial Confinement Fusion neutron spectrometer response function simulations with Geant4

Contact: Richard Petrasso
Posting Date: 2018-08-14

The MRS neutron spectrometer installed at the National Ignition Facility

UROP Description: The High-Energy-Density Physics (HEDP) Division http://www-internal.psfc.mit.edu/research/hedp/ of the PSFC designs and implements experiments, and performs theoretical calculations, to study and explore the non-linear dynamics and properties of plasmas under extreme conditions of density (~1000 g/cc), pressure (~ 1000 gigabar), and field strength (~megagauss). As part of this effort, the group has installed the MRS neutron spectrometer to measure the yield, ion temperature and confinement properties of Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) ignition experiments on the National Ignition Facility (NIF). This spectrometer measures neutron spectra from the primary cryogenically layered DT implosions on the NIF, such as described in Refs. [1,2,3].

MRS measurements from the NIF are interpreted using a detailed instrument response function simulated using the Geant4 toolkit (geant4.cern.ch). We are currently looking to improve our understanding of instrument response to allow more detailed analysis of finer features of the measured neutron spectra, as a step to understanding asymmetries and flows in the NIF implosions. These factors are crucial to understand and mitigate in order to achieve ignition on the NIF. To accomplish this, we are looking for a student to:

(i) adapt the existing response function simulation code to the newest version of Geant4;

(ii) move the code from a Windows to a Linux computing environment;

(iii) add more physics capability to the code to further improve our understanding of MRS response.

Prerequisites: The right candidate for this project is a self-motivated student with prior experience in C++ and Linux. Geant4 experience would be an advantage, but for a student that does not yet know Geant4, this is an excellent opportunity to learn! Hours for this project will be negotiable, during Fall 2018 and with the possibility of continuing into future semesters.

[1] O. A. Hurricane et al., Nature 506, 343 (2014).
[2] O. A. Hurricane et al., Nature Physics 12, 800 (2016).
[3] S. LePape et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 120, 245003 (2018).

Development of multi-spectrum infrared diagnostics for boiling heat transfer investigations

Contact: Dr. Guanyu Su
Posting Date: 2018-06-05

Infrared interference patterns caused by the presence of a liquid micro-layer underneath a bubble

UROP Description: The Red Lab in NSE (bucci.mit.edu) is looking for a motivated student to participate in the development of innovative Infrared (IR) diagnostics for boiling heat transfer investigations. The ultimate goal of this study is to develop an experimental approach that can simultaneously measure time-dependent temperature and heat flux distributions and detect dry area regions and liquid micro-layer structures on the boiling surface. The approach is based on multi-spectrum IR thermography. Such holographic-like experimental result is crucial for advancing the modeling of boiling heat transfer phenomena, which will result in enhanced light water reactors (LWR) safety and efficiency.
You will gain hands-on experience with advanced measurement techniques, such as IR thermography, Fourier-transform IR spectroscopy, and high-speed video. You will have the opportunity to participate in every aspect of the project from the design to the analysis of the results, working with one or more graduate students and Postdocs. Our group will provide tremendous support for you to improve your knowledge and skills in different disciplines, including experimental thermal-hydraulics, design and construction of experimental apparati, operation, data acquisition, uncertainty quantification, and computer coding.
Experience with MATLAB and basic optics knowledge is a plus. Most importantly, we would like to enroll a person strongly interested in experimental research and motivated to learn. For more information about this UROP, please contact Dr. Guanyu Su (gysu@mit.edu) and Prof. Matteo Bucci (mbucci@mit.edu).

UROP position on the "Work of the Future" at the IPC

Contact: Dr. Elisabeth Reynolds
Posting Date: 2018-02-08
UROP Description: MIT’s Industrial Performance Center (IPC) engages in research on firms, industries and technological change in the global economy and how their emergence and transformation impact society at large. We look in particular at systems of innovation, whether within firms, industries, regions or countries (http://ipc.mit.edu). The IPC is looking to engage a UROP for the spring semester of 2018 to help with its new project on the Work of the Future. The project involves examining the impact of new digital technologies on the workplace. The research has multiple dimensions, from upstream analysis of new digital technologies, to downstream adoption of new technologies by firms and industries in particular regions, to public policy implications related to education, training and other areas.

The UROP will help with building the foundations for this project including literature reviews, data analysis on firms, industries, and technology adoption and conducting interviews with key stakeholders.

Strong writing and analytic skills are required as well as good interpersonal skills. The UROP will work 10-15 hours a week at standard UROP pay per hour and report to the Executive Director of the IPC, Dr. Elisabeth Reynolds.

Multiple UROP positions at the Plasma Science and Fusion Center

Contact: Jessica Coco (PSFC UROP coordinator)
Posting Date: 2018-02-03
UROP Description:

To learn more about current UROP positions at the PSFC, contact: psfc-urop@mit.edu.

A list of subjects will be published soon.

Deuterium Implantation in Stainless Steel

Contact: Prof. Ronald Ballinger
Posting Date: 2017-12-04

Top: Secondary Ion Mass Spectroscopy (SIMS) Results for Crack Growth Specimen Exposed to D2O. Middle: DANTE Accelerator. Bottom: CLASS Accelerator.

UROP Description: Hydrogen embrittlement of materials is a significant degradation phenomenon. In aqueous environments, hydrogen is generated as a result of the corrosion process. It is believed that hydrogen migrates to the plastic zone that develops at the tip of cracks due to the local tensile stresses. However, hydrogen is very difficult to detect in these situations due to the small size of the plastic zone and the ubiquitous presence of hydrogen in the environment. Thus, if hydrogen is “detected” it is often not clear where the hydrogen came from. Hydrogen charging experiments can introduce hydrogen into the material but these experiments are often conducted in high pressure, high temperature gas or via electrochemical methods. Both of these methods result in very high concentrations-much higher than would exist under prototypic conditions. Thus, there have been very few, if any, experiments performed where the experimental conditions are prototypic and in environments where the actual source of hydrogen is unambiguous. However, recent experiments have been conducted in the H. H. Uhlig Corrosion Laboratory that satisfied the above two conditions: (1) experiments were conducted in high purity D2O (NOT H2O) at (2) temperatures typical of those in light water nuclear reactors - ~300 C. Deuterium was used as a surrogate for hydrogen. Under these conditions the only source of deuterium is the water environment. The top figure shows the results of the analysis. The results demonstrate that concentration ahead of the crack tip does occur and the source is the environment.
While the results of the program have demonstrated that deuterium, used as a surrogate for hydrogen, does concentrate at the crack tip and that the source is the environment, the actual magnitude of the concentration is still not known. The SIMS analysis only provides relative concentrations when compared to background concentrations. The next step in the analysis is to provide a way to convert the SIMS results to actual concentration values. In order to accomplish this “standards” need to be developed where a known concentration exists. The purpose of this project is to develop deuterium standards.
In this project deuterium atoms will be implanted in a stainless steel sample using the DANTE accelerator in the Nuclear Science and Engineering Department. The concentration and depth profile for the deuterium will be controlled by adjusting the beam current and beam energy. The middle figure shows a photo of the DANTE accelerator. Estimates for the concentrations and depth profiles will be calculated using the SRIM radiation damage computer code.
Once the deuterium has been implanted the concentration vs. depth profile will be measured using recoil analysis using the CLASS accelerator, shown in the bottom picture.
Student will learn about the radiation damage process as well as to participate in the actual implantation and subsequent analysis.
Supervisors: Prof. Ronald Ballinger and Dr. Kevin Woller

Contributing to the educational mission of NSE with the new edition of Nuclear Systems

Contact: Prof. Neil Todreas
Posting Date: 2017-08-04
UROP Description: The text Nuclear Systems by Todreas and Kazimi used in course 22.312 and in Nuclear Engineering departments throughout the world is being updated to a new edition- Volume 1, 3rd edition and Volume 2, 2nd edition.
For both texts updates include addition of new problems, worked examples, characteristics tables and limited descriptions of Advanced Reactors including US & International Gen III+ Concepts and SMRs, and additions of errata and better explanations of selected phenomena.
The UROP task will be to assist in the identification and expansion as necessary of such materials drawing on the contents of course 22.312 and 22.06 materials presented over the last few years as well as literature found on the web. Additionally US and international contacts identified by Professor Todreas will be contacted to supply reactor characteristics of plants they are involved in.
The UROP task will be to gather such data, confirm the existing solutions of problems and examples, draw an occasional figure, and edit existing chapter files. The work will be executed in close coordination with Professor Todreas and Dr. Massoud a former Adjunct Professor at University of Maryland, who is taking on Professor Kazimi’s former co-authorship role.
Prerequistite is completion on Course 2.005 with strong performance. Completion of Course 22.06 also with strong performance is desirable but not required.

Ultra High Resolution Inspection of Integrated Circuits

Contact: Dr. Richard Lanza
Posting Date: 2017-04-13

Imaging a set-reset latch, a functional unit within an integrated circuit
from Holler et al Nature 543, 402-406; (2017)

UROP Description: Between 2011 and 2015, the semiconductor industry saw significant advances in both the scaling of integrated circuits and 3-D integration of multiple wafers, monolithically grown stacked circuits, and non-CMOS structures. Multiple flash memory manufacturers are fabricating 16+ stacked chips for memory and logic-in-memory applications. In addition, 2.5 D circuits mounted on an interposer die have become an industry standard. High-yield manufacturing of these structures will require unique capabilities for process verification and failure analysis.
Similarly, in keeping with Moore’s Law scaling, 14 nm microprocessors have been in production since July 2014 and 7 nm circuits were demonstrated at Albany Nanotech in early 2015.1 Samsung Corporation, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), and GlobalFoundries have announced plans to ship production-quality 10 nm integrated circuits in late 20162, Intel plans to ship 10 nm integrated circuits in 20173, and TSMC plans to offer 7 nm chips in 2017. Manufacturing at these technology nodes will require high-speed and high-resolution image acquisition for process verification and failure analysis. The Rapid Analysis of Various Emerging Nanoelectronics (RAVEN) program, sponsored by iARPA, is focused on developing an analysis tool capable of imaging minimum size circuit features on a silicon integrated circuit chip. MIT is working on developing a method for imaging, in 3D, the features on integrated circuits to a resolution of 10nm or better. Recently, a Swiss group at the Paul Scherer Institute has demonstrated that this is possible using a large synchrotron radiation source. The figure below shows the results of their measurement. The logic diagram, circuit and 3D image of the IC are shown below. but we are implementing it with a desktop sized instrument which requires a combination of technologies and new computational imaging algorithms. NSE is working with labs and groups at MIT (EECS, CSAIL, ME, MTL) and others (MGH, SRL and Morgan State) to achieve his. As a preliminary proof of concept, NSE is developing a 10 nm resolution x-ray imaging system based initially on using the nanometer sized beam from an SEM.
This UROP project will be hands-on with a combination of experimental work and interaction with other members of the team, the goal being to produce simple 2D planar images with resolution of 10nm. As a further challenge, one might consider that imaging a 1 cm2 chip with a resolution of 10 nm produces an image of 106 x 106 pixels per layer, with a total of 102 layers, a total of 1014 voxels! Clearly some other approaches are going to be required to succeed!

Optimizing Nanostructured Ceramic Coatings to Mitigate Hydrogen Embrittlement

Contact: Dr. William Bowman
Posting Date: 2017-01-11

Oxide compositions were predicted to optimize
thermodynamic properties and surface reaction characteristics
(from Youssef et al. Phys. Rev. App. 2016)

UROP Description: This project will help us design, fabricate and optimize novel ceramic coatings intended to mitigate hydrogen embrittlement of metals. Addressing this problem could have implications in areas such as nuclear reactor materials, materials for geothermal systems, and infrastructure for a hydrogen economy. You will gain practical research experience performing materials synthesis, structural and chemical characterization (e.g. X-ray diffraction, molecular absorption), and data analysis. This UROP is well suited to students interested in materials science and engineering, nuclear science and engineering, physical chemistry, and/or similar. Our aim is to understand the water dissociation reaction occurring at surfaces of solid oxides, and the molecular absorption/solubility characteristics of the reaction products in the oxide. These processes are critical to the hydrogen uptake process that leads to hydrogen embrittlement—and ultimately failure—in many metals and alloys. Based on recent theoretical simulations, the materials selected for this work are predicted to be promising coating candidates, and are considered for integration into technology currently under development.
Faculty supervisor: Prof. Bilge Yildiz
Contact: Please send your resume to William Bowman, PhD (wjbowman@mit.edu).
URL: http://web.mit.edu/yildizgroup

Variable Electricity from Base-Load Nuclear Power Plants Using Thermal Storage Technologies

Contact: Dr. Charles Forsberg
Posting Date: 2016-03-02


UROP Description: In a low-carbon world electricity will be produced by nuclear and renewable energy sources. These are high-capital-cost low-operating-cost energy producers; thus, it is required to operate them at full capacity to minimize the cost of energy. However, no combination of base-load nuclear and renewables match electricity demand. There is the need for storage. Electricity can be stored as work (batteries, pumped storage, etc.) or heat. Heat from the nuclear reactor is (1) stored at times of low electricity demand and low prices and (2) used to generate peak electricity at times of high electricity demand and high prices The cost of heat storage is a factor of ten to 100 times less per kWh. There are many heat storage technologies—some that have been deployed and many others have been proposed. We are looking for students to investigate (literature review) several proposed heat storage options including geothermal heat storage and analysis of electricity markets to determine economics.