Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Program at Dartmouth

A National Science Foundation (NSF) REU Program in Materials Science

Materials science plays a critical role in the environments that shape our daily lives. Students in this program will gain an appreciation of the significance of materials science in the practicalities and economics of the world.


The REU program takes place at Dartmouth and at the nearby US Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL), drawing on faculty expertise in both engineering and chemistry, and offers students mutually reinforcing experiences between the lab and the classroom. The program enrolls 10 students each year. The program aims to broaden participation in science and engineering, including involving students in research who might not otherwise have the opportunity. Students are selected based on the program’s eligibility guidelines and their research interest alignment with the availability of projects offered each summer. Students from non-research-oriented institutions, and historically underserved students in science and engineering, as well as first-generation college students, are encouraged to apply.

Training will focus on three areas:

  1. Performing cutting-edge research as a materials scientist in a Dartmouth or CRREL lab
  2. Learning the full breadth and value of materials science research
  3. Gaining access to mentors and professional development resources for considering different career paths.

What's Included

  • Eight weeks of hands-on research laboratory experience in either engineering or chemistry
  • Room and board in Dartmouth facilities
  • Field trips to local materials research companies and the nearby US Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL)
  • Social gatherings and networking opportunities
  • Graduate school preparation, faculty mentoring, and professional development
  • $600 stipend per week
  • Up to $1,000 for travel to Dartmouth

Who's Eligible

  • Non-Dartmouth science and engineering majors currently enrolled in a four-year degree program. (Students who graduate prior to the summer are ineligible)
  • US citizens or permanent residents only

How to Apply

The 2024 application cycle has closed.

Applications include:

  • Background/identifying information
  • Unofficial academic transcript
  • Resume
  • Two letters of recommendation from faculty
  • Brief description (one or two paragraphs) of previous research experience and how this would relate to the Dartmouth REU program
  • Brief description of how participating in the Dartmouth REU program will benefit your future academic and professional career
  • Ranked list of research projects from the choices below

Dates & Deadlines (2024)

  • January 1–February 15: Application window
  • By March 30: Notification of acceptance
  • June 16–August 10: Program dates

Research Projects

1. Advanced medium entropy alloy (MEA) soft magnets—Ian Baker
The application of modern power electronics has the potential to reduce the world's energy consumption by 20%. However, current soft magnets do not have sufficient magnetic properties at temperatures >500 K to enable the full potential of applications in next-generation power electronics and various electrical machines. The aim of this project is to produce MEA soft magnets with a ~10-nm grain size which will significantly increase their range of applications. The student will produce nanograined bulk MEAs by mechanical alloying of elemental powders followed by backpressure-assisted equal channel angular extrusion. The phases present and the grain sizes will be determined by X-ray powder diffraction and the magnetic properties will be determined using a vibrating sample magnetometer.

2. Band engineering of 2D-conducting oxide semiconductors for flexible electronics—William Scheideler
2D metal oxides are an emerging class of transparent, ultra-thin materials that could enhance performance of wearable sensors and display technology. This work seeks to understand how alloyed liquid metals can control the formation of nanocrystalline vs. amorphous phases in 2D oxides while engineering their electronic structure and optical properties. Using the rapid liquid metal printing approach developed by our lab, the student will fabricate 2D oxide nanosheets and measure the materials' electronic and optical properties to be correlated with crystallinity through X-ray diffraction measurements. The student will also integrate these materials into thin-film transistors and measure switching characteristics to understand the impact of doping/alloyed channel materials.

3. Computational understanding of defects in semiconductors for photovoltaic and quantum information science applications—Geoffroy Hautier
Our research group focuses on computational materials science where we use computers and advanced modeling techniques to compute and predict properties of materials. The work will be purely computational, involving running simulations on high-performance computers, a bit of coding, and data analysis. The specific topic will be on understanding defects in semiconductors. These defects impact materials’ properties for important applications from solar panels to quantum information science.

4. Effect of heterogenous processes on ice microstructure—Emily Asenath-Smith
Ice is a highly versatile material: it can cause problems when stuck to surfaces but can also serve as a strategic building material. Across all scenarios, how and where the ice forms and what impurities are present can have significant effects on the ice microstructure and material properties. From this perspective, the student will study the microstructure of ices grown on different surfaces with soluble and insoluble impurities. The goal of this research is to connect different factors in the processing environment to microstructure and material properties. In addition to carrying out hands-on experiments and microstructural characterization, the student will have opportunities to measure mechanical properties of the ices.

5. Engineering the interface of sodium ceramic electrolytes for sodium metal batteries—Weiyang (Fiona) Li
Sodium-ion superionic conductors are one of the most promising sodium-ion conducting ceramic solid electrolytes owing to their high sodium-ion conductivity and excellent electrochemical and thermal stabilities. However, to date, there has been little success in the development of high-performance solid-state sodium batteries using this exceptional material. This project aims to address the interfacial challenges with ultrathin metal oxide materials by atomic layer deposition (ALD). A suite of characterization methods (including XRD, SEM, TEM, XPS) will be used to analyze materials' interfacial morphologies, microstructures, composition, and evolution.

6. Fabrication and property tuning of polymer-derived ceramics (PDCs)—Yan Li
The polymer-to-ceramic phase transition opens exciting opportunities to produce a broad spectrum of PDCs with tailored properties. This project aims at exploring the role of material composition, structure architecture, and key processing parameters on mechanical response of PDCs. Students will be trained for PDC sample preparation, CAD-based structure/architecture design, 3D printing, and mechanical property evaluation through compression tests and hardness tests. Students will also use scanning electron microscopy (SEM) to investigate the effect of heating rate and pyrolysis temperature on PDC microstructures.

7. Organo-Ceramic cements as fast-curing adhesive biomaterials—Douglas Van Citters
Self-setting calcium phosphate cements (CPCs) have been proposed for orthopedic and dental applications, but their less than optimal mechanical and adhesive properties prevent their use in load bearing applications, such as fracture fixation and implant stabilization. An organo-ceramic cement (OCC) system with unique adhesive mechanical properties has recently been studied in our lab. We observe tradeoffs between working time, strength, and final crystalline composition which directly impact suitability for biomedical use. In this project, titration, FTIR, x-ray diffraction, mechanical testing with bone substrates, and micro-CT will be used to establish the nature of structure-property relationships in this system.

8. Smart fabrics for simultaneous sensing and filtration of toxic chemicals—Katherine Mirica
Wearable electronics have the potential to advance personalized healthcare, assist with a disability, enhance communication, and improve homeland security. Development of multifunctional electronic textiles (e-textiles) can help achieve electronic conversion of physical and chemical information. This project focuses on fabricating multifunctional e-textiles with integrated conductive nanomaterials, resulting in reliable conductivity, enhanced flexibility, and stability to washing. The student will learn how to fabricate and characterize conductive textiles using chemical methods, and will test the function of these systems.

9. Understanding the microstructure of snow firn—Zoe Courville
In polar regions, snow falls to the ground and accumulates over time into a structure known as firn, which is essentially any snow that has lasted more than one year on the ground without melting. Firn is porous structure comprised of ice and air phases, and understanding how firn compacts over time is important for interpreting ice core records of past climate and determining the amount of ice stored in the polar ice caps. The student involved with this project will make measurements of firn density and microstructure in the lab (a cold room laboratory set at -10 degrees C), using various instrumentation, including a micro-computed-tomography (micro-CT) scanner used to make three dimensional x ray scans of samples.

10. Understanding the origin of two-level systems in Al2O3—Mattias Fitzpatrick
Modern quantum computers suffer from decoherence due to two-level systems (TLSs) in constituent materials. We aim to understand the true physical origin of these TLSs and in what portions of the circuit they reside. The student will grow Al2O3 films under the same growth conditions used in the fabrication of superconducting qubits and compare them to crystalline control films made using atomic layer deposition (ALD). Both sets of films will be characterized using atomic force microscopy (AFM), x-ray photoemission spectroscopy (XPS), and x-ray diffraction spectroscopy (XRD) to assess overall morphology, composition, and crystallinity.

Lab Spotlight

Professor William Scheideler's Scalable Energy and Nanomaterial Electronics (SENSE) Lab

PhD candidate Julia Huddy talks about her research on scalable production for solar devices in the SENSE Lab.