1. Evaluation of how well the academic objectives of the proposal were met
Students working in the mentoring environment synthesized nanomaterials composed of ZnO and characterized the materials by SEM, TEM, XRD, and IR. They then used the materials as efficient photocatalysts to destroy dyes. They applied reactions and knowledge they had learned in their chemistry courses. They learned to solve problems by finding new ways to synthesize or characterize their compounds. They learned to run, fix, and change settings on multifaceted instruments. They learned to trouble-shoot problems to solve instrumental errors. They learned to reduce human error and understand instrument capabilities. They learned to work independently as well as in a team. They learned to schedule their time and take responsibility for their own progress.
Students had a positive experience. They experienced what scientists do and what it takes to discover something new. They learned it takes previous knowledge, work, creativity and focus to discover new scientific information.
They also learned to organize and present their findings at group meetings. They learned to understand the background material that concerned their project and discuss it with group members. Students wrote their findings in reports to their advisors. They also presented their projects orally at the College Spring Research Conference and on display boards at the ACS Chemistry Week poster session.It is anticipated that in the next six months another paper from their work titled “Controlled Formation of ZnO Hexagonal Prisms with Ethanol Amines and Water” will be submitted for publication.
2. Evaluation of the mentoring environment
The mentoring environment was formed and maintained by an advisor who helped the students pick a research topic, showed students how to do research, encouraged them in their work, and helped them see where their research was going. The advisor had more concern for the students’ learning than for the volume of new results generated. The students helped each other by showing each other how to do research and by discussing new procedures. The environment motivated students to perform better and accomplish their goals. It also helped them realize that significant achievements are not made in a single day but require many incremental advances.
There was an environment of professionalism. Students were expected to know and explain what they were doing. They were expected to become experts in the topic of their project. They were encouraged to find knew knowledge and go beyond what we now know. The atmosphere was one of moving the field to new heights. Students were treated as colleagues in the lab more than research employees. They had the chance to fail, which allowed them to experience the real world of research and see how it will provide experiences of fulfillment and disappointment. Not all students developed something new, and some students were more successful than others, but the mentors took the track that there is more to the research experience than new findings. The experience is designed to make students better chemists.
Students presented their findings in a fairly formal format at these meetings. These helped students see where their compounds were being used and what it takes to synthesize new compounds.
3. List of students who participated and what academic deliverables they have produced or it is anticipated they will produce
William Rankin, conference and poster presentations
Brielle Woolsey, conference and poster presentations
Spencer Rushton, poster presentation Thomas Peterson, conference and poster presentation
Brent Dearden, conference and poster presentations
During 2014 and 2015, a paper was publish in part due to funding from the MEG. It is, J. M. Hancock, W. M. Rankin, T. M. Hammad, J. K. Salam, K. Chesnel, R. G. Harrison “Optical and magnetic properties of ZnO nanoparticles doped with Co, Ni, and Mn and synthesized at low temperature” J. Nanosci. Nanotech. 2015, 15, 3809-3815.
4. Description of the results/findings of the project
Formation of crystalline hexagonal ZnO prisms from a sol-gel method was accomplished. The method requires zinc acetate, water, and diethanolamine to create a gel of zinc hydroxide and zinc hydroxide acetate, which in the presence of water and upon heating forms hexagonal prisms. Ethanolamines are critical for gel and prism formation, while other bases such NaOH and triethylamine produce nanoparticles. Using XRD and XRD high temperature chamber (HTK) to characterize the gel, it was determined that 100 °C was required for prism formation. SEM images showed hexagonal cocrystal prisms with uniform size (approx. 0.5 × 2 μm) and very distinct edges. TEM and electron diffraction images show the prisms are highly crystalline with rough surfaces. TEM also showed a change from randomly oriented particles in the gel to ordered crystals after heating. Along with heating, acetate and water were necessary for prism formation. In a potential application, the prisms efficiently acted as photocatalysts in the degradation of organic dye.
5. A summary account of how funds were used
The majority of the funds were used to pay student salaries. Students were able to work during the summer months in the lab due to the funds. A small part of the funds, around fifteen percent, was used for supplies and chemicals.