Honors Summer Adventures: Copolymers + Cannoli at MIT

Hey Everyone! It’s Rachel again. A quick refresher: I’m a junior in materials engineering from St. Louis, Missouri. This time, I’m writing fresh off the plane from Boston, MA. I know, not quite as exotic as many of the other locales Honors students have been frequenting this summer. Let me just throw in three letters to add to the appeal…MIT. I was blessed with the incredible opportunity to spend 9 weeks of my summer there, working in research among professors that are the celebrities of the academic world.

I was working for Professor Karl Berggren, in the Quantum Nanostructures and Nanofabrication group (quite a mouthful, I know). I was attracted to the group by their work in a process called block copolymer self-assembly. Basically what happens is a piece of silicon coated with a thin layer of a block copolymer solution is placed in a chamber with solvent vapors for a few hours. The solvent vapors allow the polymer to re-arrange and form structures on the scale of 10 nm!  My project for the summer was to engineer a blend of block copolymers and a way to process the blend that would result in the formation of multiple kinds of structures in the same thin film. Quite a daunting task. The work was slow (and very unsuccessful) at first, but after working for about 5 weeks, I got some pretty exciting results! I would attach a picture here of what my results looked like, but I can’t because the work isn’t published (yet!).

Enough about research…I had a lot of fun in Boston too! I was surprised by how nice everyone was at MIT, and I found some really cool people to explore Boston with. We got to visit Revere Beach, America’s first public beach, which sounds much more exciting than it actually was. The prettiest beach I visited was Crane’s Beach, named for a famed Boston plumber…haha I’m not joking. One of our favorite things to do was eat dessert. If you’re ever in Boston, go to Mike’s Pastry and get an espresso cannoli, and go to Toscanini’s and get B3 (butter, brown sugar, and brownie flavored ice cream). One of the highlights of the summer was definitely when we went to see the Red Sox at Fenway Park. We were lucky enough to see the most exciting inning of baseball at Fenway this summer. The Sox scored 6 runs in the 9th inning to beat the Mariners 8-7! It was SO AWESOME.

Philiph cannolihttp://www.mikespastry.com …they will ship to Ames!

All in all, it’s been a great summer. Boston and MIT were both great, but I am so thrilled to be headed back to Ames and ISU in a few days! If there is anything you want to know about MIT or Boston, hit me up. I can go on for hours. This blog post started at about 2500 words 🙂


One comment on “Honors Summer Adventures: Copolymers + Cannoli at MIT

  1. Caleb says:

    Boston is a very nice city and there is so much to do there. You really need a summer, maybe even more to really experience as much as you can.

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