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Department of Physics, Applied Physics, and Astronomy
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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Anpu Zhu
Undergraduate Research:
Anpu Zhu

In this research project we are building an AC circuit to trap gold nanoparticles of different sizes to a nanometer-level gap. Our goal is to analyze the relationship among various parameters, such as voltage, frequency, and the size of nanoparticles. Based on this study our device can work as a chemical sensor to detect volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

For this project I will work with another upper class undergraduate student. Based on our experimental data last semester we have already shown that certain voltage and frequency will lead to trapping of many gold nanoparticles in the nanometer gap. Currently, we are determining the most suitable voltage and frequency to trap just a single nanoparticle. Our aim is to achieve a reliable and systematical conclusion towards the trapping result and the different parameters responsible for trapping.

As an international student, I really wanted to learn more about the American university culture and undergraduate research is such an important aspect of college life.

I believe that participating in research is the best way to learn what I want. There are no limits or restrictions for foreign students like myself to start doing active research. By working in a research lab I will learn how scientists apply in-class knowledge to real world projects.

I got to know Professor Lewis in my Physics II class and she is really kind and nice to students. So I thought it would be good to work in on her research team to start of my college career.

Although I am a mechanical engineering student, this project requires more general scientific knowledge. For example, my knowledge on electronic circuits was tested by working on my research project. Also, this research tested my ability to control many experimental parameters in order to determine a conclusion about their relationships.  This strengthened my data analysis skills and improved my ability to manage and design a research experiment.

Being a part of a research team I gained good work experience.  We have group meetings every week. At the meeting we present PowerPoint presentation about what we have done in the past week and what we are going to do in the following week.  Also, we get advice from other team members. As a result, I have strengthened my communication and presentation skills.

There is a lot freedom working on my project. Although there is not much stress from the professor, I learned to manage my time and become more efficient to finish tasks.

Everything I have learned working in Professor Lewis’ research group will become a part of my life experience. It will help me a lot in the future and for whatever work I am going to do after graduation.
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