Undergraduate Research Experiences

Archive for October, 2012

Narrowing the Topic Part 2

As I read more about superconductors, I cannot help becoming excited. The information from the articles is so interesting! So far I am focusing on type 2 superconductors. I am focusing on type 2 superconductors for several reasons. First, my mentor and his research group is already working on this type of superconductor. Second, my mentor recommended I take this course as it utilizes more physics. Third, I was actually able to observe some of the processes involved with researching type 2 superconductors.

To further narrow my topic, I was recommended to look up matching effects in type 2 superconductors. Thus far I found that matching effect has to do with magnetic fluxes or vortices becoming trapped in holes milled into a material in a specific way. The resulting effect of this enhances the critical current of a superconductor. I still need to read more to be more accurate of course. I have found a book on superconductors that may help me to further understand the concepts; it has already aided me a bit.

As I continue my research I still feel a bit uneasy about my abilities. I do not have particularly advanced knowledge of physical or mathematical concepts, wich makes reading articles on the subject matter challenging. This does not stop me, however. I will continue to research type 2 superconductors and prepare my  proposal, which is due very soon. I can do it as long as I remain committed, and perhaps a bit merciless. It is all a part of the journey, and I still have long way to go.


Narrow the topic

My mentor has been having me talk to members in his research group to figure out which direction I want to go. Although they all research a similar idea, they use different methods or materials. I had already spoken with one member when my mentor recommended another, whose research was more to the physics side. In addition, my mentor recommended me to travel to Argonne and actually observe the ongoing research being conducted at the lab.

Recently I went to Argonne National Laboratory to observe the process of focused ion beam milling. I had never been to Argonne before, so this event was thoroughly exciting! My first thought upon entering the gates was how large the facility was. There were so many buildings and other structures. The lab I was to enter was actually in a clean room. Before entering the clean room, I had to put on a clean suit. The lighting in the lab was an unusual yellow color that I had not seen before. Explaining everything else I observed during my visit would be thoroughly exhausting. However, I can summarize it in two words, absolutely interesting! I enjoyed observing this area of research and believe this is the path I would like to take for my research.

Now that a more focused area of research has been realized, I can start narrowing my topic and research question. My journey so far has been exciting and educational, and it is only th beginning. I still have much work to do, but I can confidently anticipate that the path ahead will have more unforgettable events.

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