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December 2007

November 2007

I finally had the chance to see the "Science as Art" exhibition which was very entertaining.

Regarding some of the other talks I saw today, I'd also like to point out again the immense amount of information which can be be obtained using a TEM. Today in Symposium C there were a series of talks on holography which can provide information on magnetic and electric fields by obtaining a measure of the specimen inner potential. So at very high spatial resolutions one can obtain quantitative information about such things as dopant concentrations and profiles in semiconductor devices or magnetic fields. Interestingly, the 1971 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Dennis Gabor "for his invention and development of the holographic method." Originally, Gabor intended holography for improving the spatial resolution of the electron microscope, but the first useful applications of holography used light.   

Dare to dream big!

Dsc02904_4 They say a young mind is like a wild horse which needs to be shown the tracks. MRS too has a grooming program for young minds to be exceptional inventors. The MRS university chapter luncheon provided us with a pool of information about interesting projects that the students can get involved with. One of them (that I was requested to blog about by speaker Joyce Ward) was the Collegiate Inventors Competition. For 15 years, the Collegiate Inventors Competition has recognized and encouraged undergraduate and graduate students on their quest to change the world around them. They have given away over $120,000 in prizes awarded to top student inventors and their academic advisors. This competition is one of the most coveted honors available to college and university innovators and needless to say, this program has churned out many successful innovators to date.

So if you dream big, please visit the link or contact Joyce Ward 7037060081 (800) or email The applications will be available online from Dec 10, 2007 and the deadline for submission is June 1, 2008. Good luck! May the world see you as an innovator one day!


Nanoindentation symposium

I took a break from TEM after attending Professor John Spence's talk on Grand Challenges in electron microscopy and headed over to the symposium on nanoindentation. Even though it's Thursday morning the attendance was very good (as David Bahr and Dylan Morris pointed out to me). The opening talk after the break was given by Chris Schuh on high-temperature nanoindentation. As he indicated, the capability of obtaining nanoindentation information at high temperatures really opens up opportunities for obtaining materials property data and studying fundamental deformation mechanisms.  Good discussion ensued. There was more good discussion after Megan Cordill's talk comparing effects of different nanoindentation methods (quasistatic and dynamic) on property measurements; everyone doing nanoindentation needs to be aware of her results.

I enjoyed these talks particularly because they demonstrate how much more we have to learn about fundamental mechanical properties of materials even though we know a lot and are learning more from nanoindentation. I always like to find out how much more we need to know.

MRS student chapter

I am attending this meeting as a representative of MRS student chapter at Purdue (in addition to giving a talk at MRS!). Yesterday i attended a luncheon organized for the MRS student chapters and would like to share some information regarding it. This is primarily for the students who don't have a MRS chapter at their school/university and my advice to them is to start a chapter as soon as you get back. There are multiple incentives of having a student chapter such as you can get travel grants to visit boston or san francisco in case your advisor does not have money to pay for the trip (you will have to attend the MRS conference too!) and you can volunteer for different MRS activities and get compensated for it in terms of free meeting registration, free luncheons and an ipod (only ipod "shuffle" this year but hopefully will be "nano" next year since this conference is "nano"-conference. I hope the people who decide these incentives are reading my blog :-)).

  So come on guys/gals..start a MRS student chapter at your respective university. More information regarding MRS student chapters can be found on MRS website ( 

Few pictures from yesterday's MRS student chapter luncheon are attached below...

Take care and enjoy the last "lap" of the meeting...


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Breakfast with Women Engineers: An unique experience

It was indeed a great honor for me to join the women in materials science & engineering cohort for breakfast today where we heard a wonderful talk by Cynthia Volkert, Vice-President, MRS on 'Role of Professional Societies in Promoting Women'.  The room was filled with enthusiastic women, lavish breakfast and yes, we also did have a good amount of participation from men who held high offices at MRS.

This breakfast was an unique and an humbling moment for me. The talk included almost two decades of statistical reports on women participation in various aspects of the organization. It was overwhelming to hear that the participation percent was 21%, close to the target and I'm sure with the surge of women PhD's in recent years we would soon reach the dream 50%. As a woman myself I was blissful and content of this paradigm shift of woman empowerment and I truly believe that this shift would continue for years to come!

After the presentation got over the floor was open for discussion. We heard some good strategies for encouraging women to take up challenging positions at the Materials Research Society from many people in the room, among them were past MRS Presidents Howard E. Katz and Merrilea J. Mayo. Issues such as child and elder care, calls for nominations, volunteering effort, mentoring symposium organizers, writing nomination letters and networking were discussed. It was particularly interesting to hear from TMS President, Mr Robert D. Shull who suggested conveying the message to the male members in the scientific society, them being part of the problem. Overall, it was great to see the participation from young women faculty as well as graduate students raising their concerns. I even grabbed an opportunity to speak with Dr. Volkert to discuss strategies of advocating awareness among women engineers in MRS university chapters through outreach events and brochures.



Nanoparticles for water purification!!

I heard about another fascinating application of nanotechnology which is readily applicable (unlike lot of other hyped-up nanotech applications !!!). Prof. Eric Hoek from UCLA gave a talk on his work on fabrication of nanoparticles embedded polymeric membranes for water desalination. Reverse osmosis (RO) is used to push salty/polluted water through the porous membrane, which lets the water pass but blocks the impurities. Traditional polymeric membranes face the problem of bacteria and other particles build up on the surface with use and as a result more energy is needed to push the water through the membrane. This leads to additional expenses in membrane cleaning and may require frequent membrane replacement too. The nanoparticles in the membranes fabricated by Eric's research group, repel the contaminants that would otherwise stick with the polymeric membrane, hence, the expenses involved with regular maintainence are eliminated.

    The potential impact of such development is tremendous as water purification/treatment is a very expensive process and development of an inexpensive water treatment technology will make the purification process affordable for the developing countries which don't have the required technology and which are facing the drinking water shortage problem in the near future.


This is my first MRS meeting and one nice feature of this meeting is that it draws so many people from all over who are in the materials field. Because all of the materials people are here, I was able to meet and talk to some people I've known previously from my undergraduate institution (Washington State University), but haven't seen for a while as well as people I've met during summer research experiences and people I've met at other conferences. It was good to see these people again.

And the MRS University Chapter Challenge goes to...!!!

.....Purdue !!! Sorry for the "Oscar-like" exuberance, but I am little emotional about this blog b'cos I undertook this project myself! And what can be more gratifying than to write a blog on acceptance of your hard work! The calendar has a collection of 12 processed images contributed from graduate students in Materials Engineering, Purdue University from various research fields and backgrounds. I am indebted to all the contributors of images who helped me bringing it to fruition, specially to my faculty advisors Dr. Tim Sands and Dr. Alex King , Chapter president John Howarter and colleague Vijay Rawat for their encouragement and support . Here is an image of the Purdue student chapter members Vijay Rawat (left), faculty advisor Prof. Tim Sands (center) and Kalapi Biswas (right) and that would be me!


It can be tiring to stand in front of a poster for several hours fielding questions. But poster sessions are good for discussion of research, arguably better than platform presentations. Good discussion is really helpful for research as one can learn a lot from a few good questions, as I did last night.

On another topic, I was very pleased this morning to have the opportunity to listen to a presentation from Professor Archie Howie from Cambridge. Prof. Howie is one of the pioneers in the field of TEM. The talk was one of several addressing Grand Challenges in Electron Microscopy. These talks are great for students to get a good perspective and overview of important concepts from experts and I really enjoyed the talk and learned a lot.