Utpal Chatterjee / Physics

In our day-to-day life we procure new knowledge by ‘seeing’ materials surrounding us using light. Scientists, however, often use light that is beyond our visibility range such as infrared radiation, ultraviolet radiation, X-rays etc. A synchrotron is a source of very high intensity infrared radiation, ultraviolet radiation and X-rays, which researchers routinely employ for gathering information about the structural, chemical and electronic properties of materials at the molecular level. In the past few decades, “synchrotron radiation research has evolved from an esoteric endeavor practiced by a small number of scientists to a mainstream activity which provides essential information in the materials and chemical sciences, the life sciences, molecular environmental science, the geosciences, nascent technology and defense-related research.”  Currently, there are more than 60 synchrotron light sources in 19 countries around the world.

My Dream Idea is to provide a research opportunity allowing undergraduate students to obtain firsthand experience in synchrotron-based research. The project will take advantage of ongoing research programs in Advanced Photon Source (APS) at Argonne National Laboratory. Currently, APS is the most intense X-ray source in the U.S., and it is noted for its high-quality research in physics, chemistry, materials science and biology. The interdisciplinary nature of the research opportunities at APS will be an exciting pathway to introduce synchrotron-based research in STEM fields.

Activities – Five students will travel to the synchrotron facility of APS.  Three important components of the program: 1. Students selected during the Spring of their program will do independent study to obtain working knowledge of tools required to perform research at APS; 2. Students will spend two-days at APS conducting planned research; and 3. Each student will prepare a short-term paper on their research work.

Benefits – The projected impact is to develop highly-skilled and capable scientists and, ultimately, the advancement of science and society as a whole. Participating students will learn about exciting developments in contemporary science and get hands-on experience in some of the most advanced experimental techniques. The interdisciplinary dimension of synchrotron-based research will help them assimilate knowledge from seemingly disparate fields such as chemistry, experimental condensed matter physics, materials science and computational physics. Interactions among students will demonstrate the benefits of peer and collaborative learning. They will also learn about the ethics in research.