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Abstracts 2013

Click on the title for full description of SURE 2013 projects in the Materials Engineering.

MAT-001 Fabrication of Aluminum Alloys for Solar Cell Applications

Professor: Mathieu Brochu
Email: mathieu [dot] brochu [at] mcgill [dot] ca

Research Area: Nanotechnology & Advanced Materials


DESCRIPTION: According to the escalating demand for energy sources, there is an urgent need to develop new technologies capable of converting light to electricity. Solar energy is the most abundant energy source when compared to the other renewable energy sources. Previously, silicon and metallic substrates have been used as solar cell components but aluminum metal itself is generally not considered as a suitable substrate due to the presence of a surface oxide layer, which hinders electricity collection. This research involves replacing the classical conductive glass electrode with an aluminum alloy. By modifying the anodic oxide layer on the aluminum surface in order to be able to use it for solar cell applications.

TASKS: The student will be responsible for: literature survey, fabrication of cast aluminum alloys, sample preparation and anodization, metallography, assembly of the solar cells. Using various techniques such as optical microscopy, image analysis, SEM, EDS, XRD, XPS and electrical property measurements will do sample characterization.

DELIVER: Bi-weekly research presentation to provide an update on the progress; Final report and presentation to provide knowledge transfer for what has been done; SURE poster.

Positions Available: 1
Level: U2+

MAT-002 Investigation of the Nano-Impact Properties of Nanostructured Materials

Professor:  Mathieu Brochu
Email: mathieu [dot] brochu [at] mcgill [dot] ca

Research Area: Bulk Nanomaterials


DESCRIPTION: This project aims at developing a technique to analyse the impact properties of nanomaterials using the nano-impact indentation technique. The facility, available at McGill University, allows the possibility of impacting the sample at the same location for numerous times, hence the possibility to study the response of the nano-grains behavior (hardening, recrystallisation, grain growth) under repeated loading cycles. For this phase 1, the testing will be done at room temperature, and nanostructured aluminum alloys will be studied.

TASKS:  Fabricating nanostructured materials using cryomilling and SPS; Performing the nano-indentation tests; Analysing the grain size after testing; Review of the literature to compare the results and better understand the metallurgical phenomenon.

DELIVER:  Bi-weekly presentations; Final report after internship; SURE poster.

Positions Available: 1
Level: U2+

MAT-003  Surface Modification of PLGA Electrospun Fibers for Skin Regeneration

Professor: Marta Cerruti
Email: marta [dot] cerruti [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Website: http://biointerfacelab.mcgill.ca/
Tel.: 514-398-5496

Research Area: Biomaterials


DESCRIPTION: Biodegradable scaffolds are porous polymeric materials that can be used to promote the healing of fractured or diseased tissues. The surface of the scaffold is the first region that cells get in contact with after surgical implantation, and determines the success or failure of the implant. A successful scaffold must have a surface that favors cell adhesion, spreading and proliferation, thus actively promoting the process of tissue reconstruction.  For skin regeneration, applying an antimicrobial layer is important to prevent infection. In this project, we will develop different methods that will allow us to either bind the antimicrobial compounds on the surface of the fibers, or mix them to the fibers in the form of particles that will dissolve and allow their release. Successful binding and release will be tested with a variety of physico-chemical techniques.

TASKS: Prepare electrospun PLGA scaffolds; Modify their surfaces to bind antimicrobial compounds; Prepare particles containing antimicrobial compounds and mix them with PLGA scaffolds; Test binding and release.

DELIVER: Preliminary literature review on antimicrobial compounds for skin applications; 2 oral presentations to the group (the first presentation after 1.5 months and the other the end);  Written report at the end of the term; Poster for SURE project presentations.

Positions Available: 1
Level: U1+

MAT-004 Mucoadhesive Hydrogels for Ocular Drug Delivery

Professor: Marta Cerruti
Email: marta [dot] cerruti [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Website: http://biointerfacelab.mcgill.ca/
Tel.: 514-398-5496

Research Area: Biomaterials


DESCRIPTION: Many tissues in our body are coated with a mucosa—nostrils, mouth, digestive tract, reproductive organs, and corneas in our eyes. Enhanced the adhesion of a material to these mucosal membranes can tremendously help the delivery of drugs to the organs in contact with it, since it prolongs the drug retention time at the site of interest. In our lab we have developed chitosan-based hydrogels for oral and buccal drug delivery—i.e. specifically adhering to the mouth and small intestinal mucosa. In this project we will to test similar materials for their mucoadhesion to the mucosa surrounding the corneas. This will make it possible to do ocular drug delivery without having to poke the patients’ eyes with a needle, which is nowadays’ practice.

TASKS: Prepare chitosan-based hydrogels with enhanced mucoadhesion following protocols established in the lab; Test their adhesion in conditions simulating ocular membranes; Optimize physical properties required for ocular mucoadhesion and ocular drug delivery, including transparency; Time allowing, load the gels with model drugs and test release.

DELIVER: Preliminary literature review on ocular drug delivery and ocular mucoadhesion; 2 oral presentations to the group (the first presentation after 1.5 months and the other the end);  Written report at the end of the term; Poster for SURE project presentations.

Positions Available: 1
Level: U1+

MAT-005 Mechanical Properties of Azo-Polymers as a Function of Temperature and Light Exposure

Professor: Richard Chromik
Email: richard [dot] chromik [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Website: http://people.mcgill.ca/richard.chromik/
Tel.: 514-398-5686

Research Area: Nanomechanics


DESCRIPTION: Azobenzene containing polymers have received significant attention recently due to their ability to actuate by a photo-mechanical effect upon light exposure. Scientists see applications for these materials as surface relief gratings. This project will involve characterization of one or more azo-polymers with nanoindentation, a mechanical testing technique capable of measuring elastic, plastic and time-dependent properties. More specifically, the technique will be applied to azo-polymers both as a function irradiation intensity and temperature. The goals of the study are to obtain a systematic understanding of the effectiveness of irradiation in actuating the polymers and to compare softening due to light exposure to that induced by temperature changes. The first goal will help in further developing the azo-polymers for their intended applications and the second goal will help develop fundamental understanding of the photosoftening mechanism. The student will be co-supervised by Prof. Christopher Barrett in the Department of Chemistry.

TASKS: Collect data using a nanoindentation instrument and an atomic force microscope. The data will be analyzed using software programs such as Matlab and Origin.

DELIVER: A final report and participate in the SURE poster session.

Positions Available: 1
Level: U1+

MAT-006 Repair of Cold Sprayed Titanium for Aerospace Applications

Professor:  Richard Chromik
Email: richard [dot] chromik [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Website: http://people.mcgill.ca/richard.chromik/
Tel.: 514-398-5686

Research Area: Tribology


DESCRIPTION: Cold spray is an exciting new material processing route with applications for repair of aerospace components. We plan research that will provide proof of concept for repair of Ti compressor blades. This will include cold spray of Ti followed by deposition of erosion resist coatings by physical vapor deposition. Materials will be characterized by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), nanoindentation and tribological testing for resistance to both sliding and erosive wear.

TASKS: The student will collaborate with a graduate student on the tribological testing. The student will prepare metallographic samples for SEM and nanoindentation. The student will collect mechanical property data using a nanoindentation instrument. The data will be analyzed using software programs such as Matlab and Origin.

DELIVER: Presentation at the SURE poster session and a written report.

Positions Available: 1
Level: U2+

MAT-007 Mechanically Modified Layers on Aluminum and Aluminum Composites Fabricated by Cold Spray

Professor: Richard Chromik
Email: richard [dot] chromik [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Website: http://people.mcgill.ca/richard.chromik/
Tel.: 514-398-5686

Research Area: Tribology


DESCRIPTION: Sliding wear of metals often results in a mechanically modified layer (MML) at the surface. In this layer, material has been plastically deformed and sometimes mixed with the ambient environment, leading to oxidation or other reactions. In general, the tribology of metals is not a well understood as previously thought and the MML is a hot topic of research currently. We plan to conduct a set of sliding wear experiments on aluminum and aluminum composites fabricated by the cold spray process. Subsequent characterization of the MML will include scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and nanoindentation.

TASKS: The student will collaborate with a graduate student on the tribological testing. The student will prepare metallographic samples for SEM and nanoindentation. The student will collect mechanical property data using a nanoindentation instrument. The data will be analyzed using software programs such as Matlab and Origin.

DELIVER: Presentation at SURE poster session and a written report.

Positions Available: 1
Level: U2+

MAT-008 Thermodynamic Modeling of Metallic and Ceramic Systems for New Materials Design and Process Optimization

Professor: In-Ho Jung
Email: in-ho [dot] jung [at] mcgill [dot] ca

Research Area: Hydrometallurgy/Pyrometallurgy


DESCRIPTION: Thermodynamic database is very useful tool for understanding the complex chemical reactions occurring at high temperature materials process. In order to develop accurate thermodynamic database, the experimental data in literature is being collected and evaluated critically to obtain the thermodynamic model parameters for all phases in given system. This project is to develop the thermodynamic database for binary and ternary metallic and ceramic systems important to industrial process and new materials design.

TASKS: Collecting the experimental data in literature; Evaluate the experimental data critically; Obtain thermodynamic model parameters; Perform thermodynamic calculations.

DELIVER:  Final report; Final database

Positions Available: 2
Level: U1+

MAT-009 Phase Diagram Study for Ceramic and Metallic Systems

Professor: In-Ho Jung
Email: in-ho [dot] jung [at] mcgill [dot] ca

Research Area: Hydrometallurgy/Pyrometallurgy


DESCRIPTION: In this project, the phase diagram for new materials related to pyrometallurgy and metallic alloy will be investigated using the classical equilibration and quenching technique. Student will learn how to do the high temperature experiments and also learn various experimental and characterization techniques with the help of the research associate and graduate students.

TASKS: Learn phase diagram study; Learn the characterization technique such as XRD, SEM, Optical microscope; Collect and evaluate the previous experimental data and compare the new experimental data.

DELIVER: Final report with details of experimental procedure and data.

Positions Available: 1
Level: U2+

MAT-011 Advanced Sintering of Al alloys and Cu-based Powder

Professor: Mathieu Brochu
Email: mathieu [dot] brochu [at] mcgill [dot] ca

Research Area: Nanotechnology & Advanced Materials


DESCRIPTION: The project will aim at determining the optimum sintering parameters for two types of powder blends, i.e. aluminum alloy powders for automotive applications and nanostructured Cu powders for high strength light weight porous structures. In both case, the sintering studies will be performed in conjunction with diffusion studies and microstructure analysis to ensure homogeneous composition and isotropic properties. The Al alloys will be sintered using the SPS process, while the Cu-powder will be sintered using SPS and the pressureless process.

TASKS: Performing the SPS sintering trials; Performing the pressureless sintering trials; Metallographic sample preparation and analysis; Testing for basic mechanical properties (hardness strength).

DELIVER: Bi-weekly presentation to show progress; Final work term report; SURE poster.

Positions Available: 1
Level: U2+

MAT-012 Non-Oriented Electrical Steels – Structure/Property Relationships

Professor: Richard Chromik
Email: richard [dot] chromik [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Website: http://people.mcgill.ca/richard.chromik/
Tel.: 514-398-5686

Research Area: 


DESCRIPTION: Silicon containing steel is commonly used for magnetic applications, including components of electric motors for the automotive industry. This research concentrates on the effect of manufacturing processes on the magnetic and mechanical properties of non-oriented electrical steel, which is often used for the core material in rotating electrical machines. The steel will be processed by different secondary manufacturing methods, including welding and/or cutting processes. Samples will be prepared for microscopic examination by transmission electron microscopy. Other samples will be tested by nanoindentation to measure the residual stress. In the end, correlations will be made between the structural changes due to secondary manufacturing processes and the mechanical properties determined by nanoindentation. This work will help to better understand the impact of manufacturing processes on the performance of the electrical steel.

TASKS: The two SURE students will collaborate with two PhD students. One SURE student will concentrate on sample preparation for TEM and the other student will concentrate on nanoindentation.

DELIVER: Each student will prepare a final report and present a poster.

Positions Available: 2
Level: U2+

Click on the title for full description of SURE 2013 projects in the Mining Engineering.

MINING-001 Effect of Soda Ash on Pentlandite/Serpentine Aggregation

Professor: Jim Finch
Email: jim [dot] finch [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Tel.: 514-398-1452

Research Area: Mineral Processing


DESCRIPTION: Aggregation is usually counterproductive to physical separation processes unless selective aggregation can be achieved. A common form of aggregation is slime coating. Presence of serpentine minerals hinders pentlandite flotation by slime coating in processing ultramafic Ni-ores. By experience it has been found that soda ash gives the best flotation recovery and grade for ultramafic ores. Soda ash is a pH modifier and considered to be a dispersant at the same time.
Dispersants are reagents used to promote and keep particles dispersed. Soda ash is a widely used pH modifier in Ni-ore flotation. Surface charge measurements at pH 10 (using soda ash as pH modifier) show that both pentlandite and serpentine have negative charge which means an electrostatic repulsion is expected between them. Electrostatic repulsion should promote dispersion. However, dispersion studies did not confirm that; soda ash did not significantly improve dispersion.
Mixed mineral zeta potential studies will be performed to determine the effect of soda ash on surface charge of pentlandite and serpentine when they are in contact. The state of dispersion will be visualized using scanning electron microscope (SEM).

TASKS: Zeta potential measurements (single and mixed mineral systems; Turbidity measurements; Scanning electron microscopy; Chemical composition analysis using Atomic Absorption.

DELIVER: Writing the final report and a presentation for the group.

Positions Available: 1
Level: U2+

MINING-002 Measuring Zeta Potential of Bubble Swarms Using a Sedimentation Potential Technique

Professor:  Jim Finch
Email: jim [dot] finch [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Tel.: 514-398-1452

Research Area: Mineral Processing


DESCRIPTION: While bubble charging is a well-recognized phenomenon, there are, compared to corresponding studies on particles, very few studies reported in the literature. Part of the problem lies in the difficulty of measurement: bubbles are buoyant and tend to leave the measurement zone too quickly. One solution is to exploit the Dorn effect, the electric field accompanying a moving swarm of bubbles. By measuring the magnitude of the electric field the surface charge can be calculated using the models available in literature. The advantage of this approach is closer approximation to the flotation system than the common electrophoresis-based techniques which is restricted to small bubble size (a few micrometers). This technique may also provide the opportunity of measuring the zeta potential in three phase systems.

TASKS: The student will help commission the new device, organize and execute a planned experimental program to evaluate (among others): effect of bubble size; role of frothers (surfactants) and salts; role of various other surfactants (collectors).

DELIVER: Writing the final report and a presentation for the group.

Positions Available: 1
Level: U2+

MINING-003 Electrostatic Interaction Between Bubble and Particles

Professor: Jim Finch
Email: jim [dot] finch [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Tel.: 514-398-1452

Research Area: Mineral Processing


DESCRIPTION: In mineral processing industry flotation is adopted as the main process to recover valuable minerals. It achieves the desired recovery through particle attachments to bubbles by using reagents to alter their surface properties. With this regard, the valuable minerals are modified to be hydrophobic and gangue minerals to be hydrophilic. However, what happens in reality is that hydrophobic recovery is usually associated with some hydrophilic recoveries. Electrostatic interaction between bubble and particles is suspected to play a role in this mis-displacement.
Work without participation of reagents has been conducted, and it has been found that there was an electrostatic interaction existed between particles and bubble. To an extension, this project will be investigating the behavior of electrostatic interaction between particles and bubble when reagents are present. 
The experiment to be conducted will be adopted the imaging technique that has been developed. The results will be correlated to contact angle measurements.

TASKS: Photograph of bubble/particle interaction in the presence of flotation reagents; Correlate the results to contact angle values obtained using a liquid penetration contact angle measurement technique.

DELIVER: Writing the final report and a presentation for the group.

Positions Available: 1
Level: U2+

MINING-004 Investigation Into Slurry Transportation and Pipe Wear

Professor: Ferri Hassani
Email: ferri [dot] hassani [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Tel.: 514-398-8060

Research Area: Geomechanics & Geotechnical Engineering


DESCRIPTION: This project intends to contribute to better understanding of the erosion and corrosion occurring within the slurry pipeline in mine backfill transportation system and evaluate the parameters may effect on the wearing mechanism of such systems.  
General background:
Mine backfilling consists of filling the cavities of underground excavation created by mining activities. This is done by delivering of waste materials to the underground opening. Mine backfilling is an integral part of underground mining methods which is generally practiced all around the world. Waste materials are mainly consisting of mine tailings and alluvial sand.  Mine tailings are the fine ground waste materials produced in mineral processing plants. Mine backfill material is mostly delivered to underground via a series of pipe line system or bore holes.
Erosion and corrosion of the slurry pipe line in the mine backfill transportation system can cause a stoppage or delay in the mine production and more importantly is a safety hazard for mine personnel. Furthermore, the preparation and reinstallation of damaged pipe line systems is time consuming and costly.  The main objectives of this project can be identified as: 
i.     To evaluate the parameters may effect erosion and corrosion of the transportation system through a series of laboratory tests.
ii.    To contribute to better understanding of  the wearing mechanism of mine backfill transportation system
To achieve these project objectives, various laboratory tests are needed to be conducted namely, sieve analysis, Slump test, UCS test, rotary test, and various technique will be employed XRD (X-ray diffraction) and SEM (Scanning electron microscopy).

In this project primarily, the characterisation of primary material which are mine tailings, alluvial and water will be evaluated. Consequently, various mixing design of mine back fill will be prepared and effect of each mixing design on the wearing of mine backfill transportation system will be evaluated separately.

TASKS: A series of laboratory test will be conducted by two undergraduate students, the laboratory tests will be conducted on the two separate phases.  In the first phase the characterisation of primary materials will be assessed, by conduction various tests. In the second phase the effect of various mine back fill mixing designs prepared with various proportions of primary materials will be evaluated by rotary test.
2 students with the help and supervision of a PhD student are in charge of conducting these primary tests. The list of task to be performed to evaluate the physical and chemical properties of primary materials are as follows:
•    Measuring  moisture content of tailings and alluvial sand
•    Conduction sieve analysis on different tailings and alluvial sands
•    Drawing particle size distribution graph for various mine  tailings and  alluvial sand 
•    Measuring specific gravity of mine tailings and alluvial sand
•    Measuring PH of industrial water delivered from different mines

In the second phase the following task will be performed by undergraduate students with the constant help and supervision of graduate students
•    Preparing different mixing design of mine backfill materials
•    Samplings from different batch of prepared mine backfill materials
•    Conducting slump test on various prepared batch of mine backfill materials.
•    Conducting uniaxial compression test on various mine back fill samples.
•    Conducting rotary test with various pipes and backfill materials.

DELIVER:  Presentation of the results.

Positions Available: 2
Level: U1+

MINING-005 Rock Strength Characterization

Professor: Hani Mitri
Email: hani [dot] mitri [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Website: minedesign.mcgill.ca
Tel.: 514-398-4890

Research Area: Rock Engineering


DESCRIPTION: The design of mine openings requies knowledge of the rock mass structures and its strength properties. One of the required parameters for the determination of the rock mass characterization is the uniaxial compressive strength of the intact rock materials. A series of tests conducted on cylindrical samples serve to form a basis for the estimation of the mean strength of the rock material. These tests are often used to characterize the rock stiffness and its Poisson's ratio. This is achieved by the use of axial and circumferential strain gauges which record the axial and lateral strains respectively, To do that, a data acquisition system consisting of at least two channels of Wheatstone Bridge type and accompanying software are used. Data is analysed to obtain the Young's Modulus of Elasticity and Poisson's ratio of the rock sample.

TASKS: Working with and configuring the data acquisition system to read at least two channels for the UCS testing. Conduct the tests in accordance with the ISRM standards. Aanalyse the data and determine the mechanical properties of the rock samples. Report writing. Miscellaneous related work in the laboratory such as ordering required materials and supplies, programming for the application, developing a VBA application interface, etc.

DELIVER: Functional and well adapted data acquisition system for UCS testing; Documentation of the VBA application developed; Documentation of the test setup and procedure; Technical report of the UCS testing program.

Positions Available: 1
Level: U1+