This is an event for current students to share their work while gaining conference and presentation experience. We invite all current physics majors to share their research and experience with Faculty, Alumni, Friends, and Family! Register as a presenter or a guest to reserve your spot at the event.

Department of Physics Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium Winners 2022

Department of Physics Research Award

Joshua Grumski-Flores 

Title: CORE Pair Spectrometer

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Michael Dugger and Dr. Barry Ritchie

Department of Physics Research Award

Max Pezzelle 

Title: The Classical Double Copy

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Joseph Foy

Women in Physics Award for Undergraduate Research

Christina Bell

Title: An On-chip Millimeter-Wave Mach-Zehnder Interferometer for Quantum Sensing and Computing

Faculty Advisor: Philip Mauskopf

Symposium rules and award requirements

Rules & Requirements

8-minute Slide & Audio Presentation
Please submit a recorded copy of your presentation - with narration and slides - in video format. You may use any presentation software, such as PowerPoint and Google Slides. Using a webcam to record your own image is optional. Your presentation can discuss the purpose of your study, background information and data, research questions, methodology, findings, conclusions, and recommendations or next steps. We recommend that you have your faculty advisor review your recording before submitting. 


Please submit a brief biography to introduce yourself to the Symposium judges and attendees, and include a high-resolution photo. 


Department of Physics Research Awards (2)

  1. Student must be a physics major.
  2. Student must be conducting physics-related research.
  3. Student research advisor may be outside of the physics department.

Women in Physics Research Award (1)

  1. Student must be a physics major.
  2. Student must be conducting physics-related research.
  3. Student research advisor may be outside of the physics department.
  4. Student identifies as female. 

Meet our 2022 judges!

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Jason Holmes 

Graduated with a Ph.D. in physics from Arizona State University in 2019.  Currently working at Mayo Clinic Arizona in the radiation oncology department as well as for a small startup, Phynix Technologies (co-founder).  Research expertise: medical physics, radiation detector design, and physics simulation.  Career goal: live in-vivo imaging of the patient during proton therapy.

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Justin Shaw 

Justin holds a PhD in Physics and Engineering from Arizona State University. He is the Project Leader for Spin-dynamics and Microscopy in the Quantum Electromagnetics Division at National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).  

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Tyler Glembo

Tyler graduated with a Ph.D. in Physics from Arizona State University in 2011 under the supervision of Prof. Banu Ozkan. After working at the American Physical Society upon graduating, Tyler now works at Intel in the high speed I/O electrical validation lab, focusing on Internet of Things devices. 

View our student presentations!

Watch on Youtube

Joshua Grumski-Flores 

Title: CORE Pair Spectrometer

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Michael Dugger and Dr. Barry Ritchie

Abstract: CORE stands for the Compact Detector for Electron-Ion Collider. Many experiments possible with CORE require that the photon beam have well known intensity and energy distributions. This project involves designing a pair spectrometer for CORE. A pair spectrometer is a detector that uses the pair production reaction in order to determine the energy of a photon. The energy of the electron and positron created from the pair production reaction can be determined by using magnets and the Lorentz force. I will discuss simulations used to study an initial design for the pair spectrometer at CORE. 

Max Pezzelle 

Title: The Classical Double Copy

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Joseph Foy

Research Collaborators: Tucker Manton

Abstract: The classical double copy is a relationship found between solutions of general relativity and those of Yang-Mills theory. It offers a new method of constructing gravitational solutions from simpler theories. Here I give an overview of the Kerr-Schild double copy, which relates Kerr-Schild metrics to solutions of Maxwell’s equations, and describe several examples of it at work. I describe my current research goals to understand the double copy in a curved background and the double copy of a nonsingular black hole solution. In the former, I seek to understand the generalization of Kerr-Schild metrics to those with a curved background metric. In the latter, I describe my ongoing efforts to generalize a known nonsingular black hole solution to one with a nonzero angular momentum using the Newman-Janis transform and then to study its single copy gauge field.

Carlos Sarabia Cardenas

Title: ASU Cryocooled DC Gun and Cathode Diagnostics

Faculty Advisor: Siddharth Karkare

Collaborators: Gevork S. Gevorkyan, Alimohammed Kachwala

Abstract: A critical measure of any electron beam is its brightness. The performance of X-ray Free Electron Lasers and Ultrafast Electron Microscopy is heavily dependent on the brightness of the electron source. Photocathodes are an excellent source of high-quality electron beams with a high brightness. An electron gun and cathode diagnostics beamline is currently under construction at ASU to be able to produce electron beams and measure their quality. One of the most important measurements will be of the emittance of the beam, which the brightness is strongly related to. This talk will touch on how the emittance will be measured in this beamline and some of the measurement resolutions.

Christina Bell

Title: An On-chip Millimeter-Wave Mach-Zehnder Interferometer for Quantum Sensing and Computing

Faculty Advisor: Philip Mauskopf

Research Collaborators: Farzad Faramarzi, Ritoban Basu Thakur, Sasha Sypkens, Shibo Shu, Peter Day, Philip Mauskopf

Abstract: We describe the development of superconducting circuit elements required for a millimeter-wave Mach-Zehnder (MZI) interferometer operating at 75-110 GHz (W-band). These element include a wide-band superconducting quadrature hybrid, a superconducting diplexer and current-controllable superconducting transmission line phase shifters in an inverted microstrip geometry. The superconducting transmission lines are fabricated from NbN and are coupled to W-band waveguides using radial probes. These circuit elements can be exploited as a platform to investigate millimeter wave circuit quantum electrodynamics such as the entanglement of millimeter-wave photons and applications in quantum sensing and quantum computing. Another application of a full MZI circuit is in astronomical and cosmological surveys as a Fourier transform spectrometer.

Past Presentations


Anna Costelle 

Faculty Advisor(s): Dr. Michael Dugger, Dr. Barry Ritchie

Collaborators: ASU Meson Physics Group and CLAS Collaboration

Title: Construction of Event Generators for Strangeness-Containing Final States

Abstract: Detector simulations have proven to be fundamental to the success of particle physics experimentation. A key aspect of their role is determining detection efficiencies. As more complicated events with several decay products are encountered, event reconstruction becomes increasingly difficult. Simulating the events provides a means of determining the efficiency of the detections and identifying missing components of the reconstruction. The first step in the simulation is to outline the kinematic information for each particle in the event. Then, an event generator program uses Monte Carlo techniques to generate all of the events required as input for the detector-simulation stage, with a defined energy distribution. In the work described here, events whose final states contain strange particles have been studied. Specifically, we begin by constructing an event generator for the interaction of a photon and proton, to produce a proton and phi meson, where the phi meson decays into two kaons, which both have nonzero strangeness. Ultimately, we wish to simulate experiments with Jefferson Lab Hall-D and the GlueX detector, generating more complex events involving the Cascade baryons, which each have a strangeness of -2, and searching for excited Cascade states that have been predicted but have yet to be observed.

Chase Hanson 

Chase Hanson was born and raised in Mesa, Arizona and is graduating from Arizona State University in May, 2021. He is interested in pursuing a career in condensed matter theory and is fascinated by the role of electronic structure in the bizarre physical phenomena of certain materials.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Antia Botana

Collaborators: Betul Pamuk, Jyoti Krishna, Jesse Kapeghian, Harry LaBollita

Title: Electronic structure of higher-order Ruddlesden Popper nickelates

Abstract: Layered nickelates have long been considered close analogs to cuprate and have been intensively investigated for their potential for superconductivity. The realization of this promise came last year, as NdNiO2 was indeed shown to be superconducting upon hole doping. This material is obtained via topotactic reduction from its parent perovskite NdNiO3 phase and is simply the infinite layer member of a larger structural series. In this context, analyzing the electronic properties of the yet unexplored parent Ruddlesden-Popper nickelate phases Rn+1NinO3n+1 (n=4-6) becomes important. Our systematic first-principles calculations in these materials reveal similarities and differences with cuprates in terms of their electronic structure. For example, large hole dx2-y2 Fermi surfaces that closely resemble the fermiology of optimally hole-doped cuprates are found, but they are accompanied by non-cuprate-like extra bands of primarily dz2 character.

Edis Jakupovic 

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Oliver Beckstein 

Title: MPI-parallel Molecular Dynamics Trajectory Analysis with the H5MD Format in the MDAnalysis Python Package

Abstract: MDAnalysis is a Python library for the analysis of molecular dynamics simulations. As datafiles are now typically terabytes in size, file I/O has become a bottleneck in the workflow of analyzing simulation trajectories. We have implemented an HDF5-based file format trajectory reader into MDAnalysis that can perform parallel MPI IO and benchmarked it on various national high-performance computing environments. Although speed-ups on the order of 20x for 48 cores are attainable, scaling up to achieve higher parallel data ingestion rates remains challenging. We developed several algorithmic optimizations in our analysis workflows that lead to improvements in IO times of up to 91x on 112 cores.

Emily LaMagna

Faculty Advisor(s): Dr. Barry Ritchie and Dr. Michael Dugger

Collaborators: ASU Meson Physics Group and CLAS Collaboration

Title: On the Road to Constructing Events that Decay φπ0 Using Electroproduction with a Proton Target

Abstract: Exotic mesons are mesons that differ in composition from a normal meson, and are signaled by having unusual spin-parity combinations.  The ASU Meson Physics Group and the CLAS Collaboration are interested in finding exotic mesons that decay into K- K+ π0. Since the phi meson decays K-K+, one path to studying the K- K+ π0 channel is through studying φπ0 final states. The φπ0 final state is mainly expected to serve as a background to other exotic K- K+ π0 final states. While φπ0  is a possible decay mode for an exotic meson, the decay to the φπ0  channel should be suppressed by more likely processes. By analyzing the reaction e p → e p φ π0, we will search to find exotic mesons and the vector meson C(1480), which has been reported to decay into φπ0 , but has not yet been confirmed.  I will report on the reaction e p → e p φ, which serves as an intermediate step towards the eventual analysis of the e p → e p φ π0 final state.

Rebecca Osar 

Research Advisor: Dr. Michael Dugger

Collaborators: ASU Meson Physics Group and CLAS collaboration

Title: Search for high-mass resonances decaying to K Lamda*

Abstract: In nuclear particle physics, there is a discrepancy between theory and experiment concerning the numbers of existing nucleon resonances. Current models of nucleon resonances predict far more states than have been observed. To investigate this problem, Λ(1520) baryons are reconstructed from a K- and a proton from the CLAS12 detector. Using the reaction ep→K+K-p with electrons of energy ~10 GeV, the invariant mass of the K+ Λ(1520) system is used to assist in uncovering the resonance spectrum. In this presentation, yields in terms of the center-of-mass energy W for the K+ Λ(1520) system in the range W = 2 to 5 GeV will be presented. Future work required for a cross section of the reaction ep→K+K- Λ(1520) will also be discussed.

Patrick Walker

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Michael Dugger

Collaborators: ASU Meson Physics Group and CLAS Collaboration

Title: Search for new states that decay K*K

Abstract: In the quark model, meson states consisting of a quark/anti-quark pair must obey Poincaré symmetry. As a result of that symmetry, for meson total angular momentum J, parity P, and charge conjugation symmetry C, states with JPC= 0--, 0+-, 1-+, 2+-, 3-+, 4+-, … should not be observed. A meson observed experimentally with such quantum numbers would indicate a so-called “exotic” meson state.  Exotic mesons can be multi-quark states like tetraquarks, a combination of two or more gluons known as glueballs, or a hybrid meson (qqg).  Theories have suggested that three possible exotic meson states with the 1-+ quantum number: π1, η1, and η‘1,.  However, no conclusive evidence for the existence of these three exotic states has been observed.  This research will look for new states that decay to K* K final states with an emphasis on exotic mesons.  An analysis of K+ K- π0 final states will be presented, where a restriction on the K - π0 invariant mass yields an unexpected enhancement in the K+ K- π0 spectrum.

Abbie Elison

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Nicole Herbots 

Collaborators: Mohammed Sahal, Shefali Prakash, Srivatsan Swaminathan, Riley Rane, Brian Baker, Saaketh R. Narayan, Jacob Kintz, Aliya Yano, Alex L. Brimhall, Lauren Puglisi, Robert J. Culbertson, Nicole Herbots

Title: Angular Dependence of Surface Energy with Crystal Directions of LiNbO3 (110) for Nano-Bonding to Si and α-quartz SiO2

Abstract: LiNbO3 is a piezo-electric that, when mono-lithically integrated to Si-based materials, yields voice activated chips. Current bonding methods include hetero-epitaxy and Direct Wafer Bonding (DWB). However, hetero-epitaxy causes lattice strain, since the lattice constant of LiNbO3 is heavily mismatched with Si (100) and α-quartz SiO2 (100). Thermal expansion mismatch during DWB causes fractures of LiNbO3. Also, LiNbO3 decomposes into Li2O5 and Li+ at T > 493K. Instead, this work uses Nano-BondingTM, [1] (NB) and Surface Energy Engineering to modify surface energies into ‘far-from-equilibrium’ states so that when nano-contacted, a 2D-precursor phase forms to catalyze bonding.
Three Liquid Contact Angle Analysis (3LCAA) can map different angular directions on 6” LiNbO3 (110), Si (100), and α-quartz SiO2 (100) wafers. Water contact angles are found to vary significantly, by 50%, from 41.8 ± 1.5° to 59.8 ± 1.5°, as a function of crystal direction. Correlation between surface structure and surface energies along different crystal directions will be discussed.
[1] Herbots et al. US Pat. 6613677 (2003), 7,851,365 (2010), 9,018,077 (2015), 9,589,801 (2017), pend. (2020)

Srivatsan Swaminathan

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Nicole Herbots

Collaborators:  Shefali Prakash, Abbie Elison, Mohammed Sahal, Riley Rane, Lauren Puglisi, Eric Culbertson, Robert Culbertson, Nicole Herbots

Title: Alz-BioSsTM (Alzheimer-BioSensor): A New, Small Blood Volume, Hand-Held Bio-Sensor using a New Bio-Marker for Alzheimer’s Disease, Methylglyoxal, in Human Blood Plasma

Abstract: Nearly 44 million worldwide suffer from Alzheimer's. Diagnosing Alzheimer's and monitoring progression is key to treatment.

Recently, blood Methyl-Glyoxal (MGO) levels were found to increase when patients develop Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer's. Presently, no portable device measuring MGO exists. This work has designed a fast, accurate, hand-held colorimetric biosensor - akin to glucometers - called Alz-Bio-SsTM. 

The Alz-BioSsTM device consists of three components. First, a disposable collection micro-fluidic strip separates plasma from a drop of blood. Second, plasma MGO reacts with two reagents, o-phenylene-diamine and citrate-capped gold nanoparticles. Third, a handheld colorimeter detects and quantifies MGO concentrations via photo-absorption from 500-700 nm LED emission and photodiodes. Alz-Bio-SsTM can help diagnose AD quickly and cheaply, unlike current methods such as cerebrospinal fluid analysis and brain imaging methods. It can diagnose MCI, not just Alzheimer's, allowing for early intervention to slow and possibly halt disease progression into full-fledged Alzheimer's.

Thilina Balasooriya and Wesley Peng

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Nicole Herbots

Title: MicroFluidics & Algorithm for Comprehensive Small Volume Blood Diagnostics via Rapid Solidification of μLDrops into Homogeneous

Abstract: Conventional Blood Diagnostics (BD) uses 7- 10 mL of liquid blood and takes hours to days for results. Such blood volumes lead to a 74% rate of ‘Hospital Acquired Anemia’, a condition aggravating chronic illness in the elderly, infants, children, and the critically-ill.
Using microscopy, Ion Beam Analysis, and X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF), the present work studies blood drop microfluidics and rapid blood solidification. The hyper-hydrophilic coating, HemaDrop™, solidifies 10 µL-sized blood drops into Homogeneous Thin Solid Films (HTSFs). A new blood collection and solidification device, InnovaStrip™ [1], allows HTSFs to be analyzed via solid-state techniques for electrolytes and metals composition to ± 10%.
To address issues in XRF automated software, including background fit errors, Fast Accurate Blood Analysis (FABA), a new XRF algorithm specific to blood analysis, is implemented in a mobile app, Fast Hand-held Analysis for XRF. FABA makes BD portable when paired with Hand-Held XRF. It allows for data conversion from atomic % composition into mg/dL using built-in calibration HTSFs, integrated into the InnovaStrip™ design. FABA yields comprehensive BD using μLs of blood with accuracy and reproducibility to ± 10%.
[1] Herbots et al. Int. US. Pat. Pend (2020).

Pranav Penmatcha and Siddarth Jandhyala

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Nicole Herbots 

Title: Creating More Efficient Solar Cells by Bonding GaAs to Silicon into Tandem Solar Cells using Nano-Bonding and SEE

Collaborators: S.Jandhyala,A.Gurijala,N.Suresh,A.Chow,S.Khanna,M.Sahal,S.Ram,T.Balasooriya,W.Peng,N.Herbots,R.Culbertson,K.Kavanagh 

Abstract: GaAs and Si semiconductors absorb different wavelengths of light and are used in solar cells. Cross-bonding the materials yields a tandem solar cell with revolutionarily high photovoltaic conversion efficiency (PVCE). However, two issues prevent the integration of the semiconductors and decrease PVCE: native oxides that nucleate wafer surfaces and high temperatures used in hetero-epitaxy wafer bonding. Our approach to these issues includes Nano-BondingTM (NB) and Surface Energy Engineering (SEE).
In SEE, Three Liquid Contact Angle Analysis (3LCAA) calculates the total surface energies (γT) of the wafers, Ion Beam Analysis (IBA) measures O coverage, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) analyzes the chemical composition of the wafers. In NB, Surface Acoustic Wave Microscopy (SAM) and Cross-section Transmission Electron Microcopy (TEM) image the GaAs-Si bonded interface and quantify the % of surface area bonded.
3LCAA reveals that GaAs(100) native oxides are originally hydrophobic while Si(100) native oxides are hydrophilic. After SEE, GaAs etched with NH4OH is highly hydrophilic, with a γT ~ 65.5 mJ/m2, and Si(100) etched with HF turns hydrophobic with γT~48.2 mJ/m2. IBA shows that O coverage decreases on GaAs from ~ 7.2 to ~3.6 O ML. XPS reveals that As2O5 decreases by 13.5% after SEE while As2O3 increases by a proportional amount.
SAM quantifies that ~98% of the GaAs wafer bonded to Si with 60 kpa of pressure and ~48% bonds without pressure at T<220° C. Constructed ball and stick models of the GaAs wafer show the success of the methodologies in overcoming the issues to integration discussed previously.

Riley Rane, Tanvi Sathish, Karishma Sivakumar

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Nicole Herbots 

Collaborators: Riley Rane, Tanvi Sathish, Karishma Sivakumar, Mohammed Sahal, Lauren Puglisi, Eric Culbertson MD, Robert J. Culbertson, Nicole Herbots

Title: Proof-of-Concept for ‘InnovaBug:' a Small, Low-Cost, Fast, Medical Diagnostic Device to Detect Pathogens in Small Volumes of Fluid Using Yogurt Water as a Model System

Abstract: Since nearly one-third of positive blood cultures yield inaccurate results, the average hospital wastes over $1 million annually treating non-existent blood infections. With over six thousand hospitals in the US, nearly six billion dollars are wasted each year. Additionally, large blood volumes of 10-30 milliliters (mL) per blood culture are taken from patients. As cultures are often performed more than once, many patients are at a very high risk of Hospital-Acquired Anemia (HAA). In fact, a single mL of phlebotomy decreases the volume of hemoglobin by an average of 0.007 g/dL. Blood cultures decrease hemoglobin volume even more drastically, by an average of 0.14 g/dL. Needlessly drawing large blood volumes and taking multiple sets of blood cultures from patients at low risk for bacteremia increases their risk of contracting HAA. Our low-cost, handheld, and rapid InnovaBug prototype aims to address these issues: the billions of dollars hospitals waste on false-positive blood cultures and the large amounts of blood drawn from patients. By using yogurt water as a model system for blood, we developed our InnovaBug prototype to use only microliters – instead of the standard several mL – of fluid in order to detect pathogens via fluorescence.

Shefali Prakash

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Nicole Herbots 

Collaborators: Shefali Prakash, M. Sahal, A. Elison, S. Swaminathan, R. Rane, B. Baker, R.J. Culbertson, N. Herbots

Title: Characterizing Surface Energetics of Wafer Bonding of LiTaO3 to Si and SiO2 via Three Liquid Contact Angle Analysis (3LCAA) and Gibbs Free Energy

Abstract: Monolithic integration of piezoelectrics is key in the Internet of Things.

This work investigates direct wafer bonding, or Nano-Bonding™ (NB), via Surface Energy Engineering (SEE) at RT to bond LiTaO3 to Si and SiO2, because the thermal expansion of LiTaO3(110), is mismatched to Si by a factor 8 to α-quartz SiO2 by 25. In addition, LiTaO3 decomposes into Ta2O5 and Li vapor at T ≥ 500K. SEE modifies surface energies, SET, and hydro-affinities to far-from-equilibrium states, based on Three Liquid Contact Angle Analysis (3LCAA) measurements. The SET of as received 6” LiTaO3 averages 41.3 ± 2 mJ/m2, and its water contact angle, 45.3± 6°. This is much more variable than as received 4” B-doped p+ Si, with 53 ± 0.2 mJ/m2, and 38 ± 1°. After SEE, LiTaO3 becomes uniformly super-hydrophilic. If contacted to within 60 seconds of SEE, LiTaO3 reverts in air to hydrophobic after minutes. Its water contact angle converges reproducibly to 66.3 ± 1°. At that point SET of LiTaO3 returns 40.6 ± 2 mJ/m2. The dependence of contact angles with polar water and glycerin, and with the apolar alpha-bromo-naphthalene, as well the SET are mapped on 6” LiTaO3 wafers using sets of 10 drops for each liquid. Their correlation with crystal direction will be discussed.


Aashi Gurijala

Title: Modelling The Structure & Chemistry Of GaAs Oxides During Surface Energy Engineering (See) For Nano-bonding

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Nicole Herbots

Abstract: Si absorbs electromagnetic waves between 400 and 1100 nm while GaAs absorbs between 800 and 2000 nm. When Si and GaAs are integrated into a hetero-structure, to create a monolithic photo-voltaic converter, a.k.a tandem Si-GaAs- solar cell, the bonded Si/GaAs pair can absorb a larger spectrum of wavelengths more efficiently, leading to potentially photovoltaic conversion efficiency 30-40%. Native oxide removal is key for optimizing the conversion efficiency of photoelectric devices, because they interfere with electrical carriers transport.

The present work focuses on removing native oxides in air on GaAs(100) prior to bonding Si(100). The two semiconductors surfaces undergo Surface Energy Engineering (SEE) to remove native oxides and create so-called “precursor phases” *1, 2* planar at the nano-scale, to catalyze molecular cross-bonding between the two surfaces during contacting at the nano-scale (nano-contacting). To accomplish nano-contacting and nucleate two-dimensional complementary precursors phases on Si and GaAs, Si(100) and GaAs(100) undergo a chemical process design via SEE in a Class 10 chemical laminar flow hood in a Class 100 clean-room. The goal of SEE is removing native oxides, planarizing surfaces the nano-scale, by extending the width of atomic terraces from less than 2nm, to more than 20 nm, and nucleating complementary precursor phases, to create Si/GaAs heterostructures bonded at the molecular levels.

Ethan Duncan

Title: Presolar Grain Isolation: A Novel Development Using Focused Ion Beam (FIB)

Faculty Advisor:  Dr. Maitrayee Bose

Abstract: We present a new methodology of isolating presolar grains by performing FIB milling in Acfer 094 meteorite. We want to develop a technique to isolate presolar grains in meteorites using focused ion beam (FIB) milling for future nanoscale secondary ion mass spectrometry (NanoSIMS) measurements. The NanoSIMS instrument uses a primary ion beam to blast a given sample surface, extracts secondary ions, and separates these ions into their mass/charge ratio, allowing isotopic measurements. We plan to use the O- ion beam on the NanoSIMS for isotopic measurements, which can be as small as ~100 nm. Presolar silicate grains are in the size range between ~90-300 nm and exist in the meteorite surrounded by meteoritic silicates. Isotopic measurements of the presolar grains will likely be a diluted because of the surrounding grains. We proved that the current FIB instrumentation cannot be used to prepare presolar grains for NanoSIMS analysis. In the future, we want to use the new instrumentation (Focused Ion Beam – Helios G4UX) with a superior Pt dispenser to be installed to try this technique.

Shefali Prakash & Srivatsan Swaminathan

Title: Designing A Portable Chemosensor To Measure An Alzheimer's Disease Biomarker, Methylglyoxal (MGO), in Human Blood Plasma

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Nicole Herbots

Abstract: Just in the United States of America, nearly 5.8 million individuals suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). AD results in difficulty with memory and learning, and a continuous degeneration of mental functions. Currently, there is no cure for AD. Monitoring AD’s progression is critical to designing an individualized treatment plan to improve patients’ quality of life and prognosis. Recently, a new biomarker for AD was identified. This biomarker is an enzyme, called Vascular Adhesion Protein-1 (VAP-1). It performs the conversion of proteins into methylglyoxal (MGO). MGO is the organic compound directly linked to neural destruction via cerebral thrombosis (i.e. formation of blood clots in the brain, a.k.a stroke), brain overstimulation, and the breakdown of a carbohydrate known as glycocalyx. The breakdown of glycocalyx results in an accumulation of the well-known beta-amyloid plaques characteristic of AD. When VAP-1 activity increases beyond normal levels, MGO levels in the plasma increase, as does a patient’s risk for AD. Therefore, monitoring MGO level in patients’ blood can potentially track AD and aid in personalizing treatment options.

Presently there is no portable device to measure MGO levels in blood plasma, or MGO plasma bio-sensor. Such an MGO bio-sensor needs to be cheap, and highly accurate. The present work proposes a simple design for a portable colorimetric-based chemosensor that first, separates plasma from blood, and then accurately quantifies MGO levels, for use by patients at home, or by doctors at the point-of-care and in the field. The sensor is composed of three parts. First, a microfluidic chip separates the plasma from the rest of the blood. Next, a colorimetric reaction occurs between the MGO in the separated blood plasma and o-phenylenediamine (OPD) and citrate-capped gold nanoparticles(AuNP), which are each on two separate slides. Finally, an optical cage system (OCS) quantifies the concentration of MGO in the plasma via an LED and photodiode.

Emily Luffey

Title: Properties of Chromatin Extracted by Salt Fractionation from a Cancerous and Non-cancerous Esophageal Cell Line

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Robert Ros

Abstract: The National Institute of Health estimates that approximately 38.4% of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetimes. While cancer is mostly viewed as a genetic disease characterized by genetic markers and expression of mutant proteins, there is considerable evidence that there is more to cancer than somatic mutations. For example, the first signature looked for by a pathologist is grossly aberrant cell nuclei. It has been shown that the more abnormal a particular cell nucleus is, the more aggressive a particular form of cancer is. A major variable in the overall nuclear structure is chromatin compaction and structure. We compared chromatin compaction and structure for two esophageal cell lines, EPC2 (non-cancerous) and CP-D (cancerous) by using a combination of salt fractionation and atomic force microscopy (AFM) and found significant differences in the chromatin morphology of cancerous and non-cancerous cell lines. We anticipate that our results will help to gain insight into the mechanisms of phenotypic change in cells from normal to cancerous.

Thilina Balasooriya & Wesley Peng

Title: Fast and Furious, Accurate Blood Analysis" (FFABA) For XRF on Homogeneous Thin Solid Films (HTSF) from Blood Drops 

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Nicole Herbots

Abstract: A recurring problem in comprehensive blood analysis and diagnostics is that measuring more than one component requires large volumes (2 -10 mL), often daily and sometimes on the hour in critical care. A coating combining hyper- and super-hydrophilic properties has been created to flatten and solidify blood droplets into uniform thin solid films in less than 5 minutes. Once a planar homogeneous thin solid film from a blood drop is achieved, each blood component can be analyzed using X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) in less than 20 minutes provided an adequate substrate configuration is used via a desktop or hand-held compact XRF analyzer specifically designed for fast blood analysis. Using µL sized blood drops yields an accuracy better than 10%. HemaDropâ„¢ can solidify blood droplets in less than 5 minutes in various temperatures and humidity conditions by creating Homogeneous Thin Solid Films (HTSFs) without any phase separation. 

HTSFs can be analyzed in air or a vacuum because they are in the solid-state, and then analyzed using desktop X-ray Fluorescence (XRF), as well as Ion Beam Analysis (IBA). However, XRF analysis by Smart.Elements™ simulations have been found to be inaccurate (100% error) for trace elements in blood like Fe and some blood electrolytes. Our new algorithm, Fast Hand Held Analysis of XRF - FHHAX1, is being deployed via a new mobile app called FFABA1 (Fast and Furious, Accurate Blood Analysis). The goal of the FHHAX algorithm is to perform rapid (<10 min), accurate (< 5% error ), and reliable (< 7% error ) blood analysis. Accuracy and reliability are achieved using four built-in proprietary calibration HTSF’s (1) provided on every HemaDrop™ collection slides. There are three collection wells(1) on each slide, allowing three measurements per test, using each 2-10 µL, and determine blood electrolytes, iron and heavy metal elements, FFABA(1) is designed to provide fast interpretative results in medical laboratory format for medical practitioners in mobile app format. In the future, it will be expanded to web-based and PC-based formats.

1-Patents in Preparation with Arizona State University ABOR, and AZ Technology Entreprises/Skysong Communications (2020), Patent Agent: Patricia Stepp

1-Patents Pending Nicole Herbots, Yash Pershad, Harshini Thinakaran (2016), with Thilina Balasooriya, Nikhil Suresh, Wesley Peng, Patent Pending (2020), assigned to SiO2 Innovates LLC, MicroDrop Diagnostics"

Chase Hanson

Title: Electronic properties of 2D van der Waals magnets

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Antia Botana

Abstract: Based on first-principles calculations, the evolution of the electronic and magnetic properties of transition metal dihalides MX2 (M= V, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni; X, Y = Cl, Br, I) is analyzed from the bulk to the monolayer limit. A variety of magnetic ground states is obtained as a result of the competition between direct exchange and superexchange. We aim to show how structural symmetry-breaking plays a crucial role in the electronic properties of 2D magnetic materials with an analysis to Janus TM dihalides MXY.

Nikhil Suresh

Title: HemaDrop: A Novel Elemental Composition Technology for Microliter-size Blood Droplets via Solid State Techniques

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Nicole Herbots

Abstract: Blood diagnostic tests require ~7 mL of blood, taking hours for results. Repeated testing can cause Hospital-Acquired Anemia. Accurate blood testing methods with smaller blood volumes and shorter analysis time are needed.

µL-sized blood drops can be rapidly solidified via Super- and Hyper-Hydrophilic HemaDrop™ coatings to yield reproducible Homogeneous Thin Solid Films (HTSFs). HTSFs are investigated for accuracy in measuring electrolytes and heavy metals. Calibration using Balanced Saline Solution allows for the conversion of atomic % into mg/dL, the main metric in blood diagnostics. Compositions from Ion Beam Analysis and X-ray Fluorescence are compared to measure blood composition reproducibly and accurately. Relative error analysis shows that reproducibility to 10% error and accuracy to within 1% error can be attained. The damage curve method extracts elemental composition while accounting for possible IBA damage, which is found to be negligible.

Sydney Olson

Title: Van der Waals Interacting 2D Mo(Sx,Te1-x)2 Slab on Bulk Al2O3 Substrate

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Arunima Singh

Abstract: Two-dimensional (2D) transition metal dichalcogenides such as MoS2 and MoTe2 find attractive applications in numerous fields such as nano-electronics, catalysis and sensing. Solid-solutions of 2D MoS2 and MoTe2 offer the possibility of a systematic design of the electronic structure as a function of the chalcogen percentage, x, in the solid solution.  In this work, we study the substrate-assisted stabilization of Mo(Sx,Te1-x)2 phases on Al-terminated sapphire. A cluster-expansion hamiltonian fit to first-principles simulations were used to find the ground state Mo(Sx,Te1-x)2 phases adsorbed on Al-terminated sapphire. We find that the nearest-neighbor distances of the surface sites of the Mo(Sx,Te1-x)2 phases to the sapphire substrate are larger than 2.5 Angstroms, indicating a weak van der Waals interaction between the substrate and the solid-solutions. To analyze the relationship between the ratios of S to Te in the solid-solution and binding strength to the substrate, we study the interface structure i.e. the near-interface atoms, their nearest neighbors and the distance between the nearest neighbors. We further develop heuristic measures for identifying chemisorption and physio-sorption at the interface for a particular 2D material and substrate interface.