Francis Smith conducts materials research in Sweden.
Senior, Electrical Engineering, The Grove School of Engineering
My Experience Summary:
Over the 2010 Summer Intercession Period, I participated in the International Research Experience for Students (IRES) Program which afforded me the opportunity to engage in a 10 week research project at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH University) in Stockholm, Sweden. I worked in the Laboratory of Photonics and Microwave Engineering under supervision of PhD student Yiting Chen, assistant Professor Min Yan and lab supervisor Professor Min Qiu.
My research project involved the investigation of prospective materials for the development of Plasmonic Integrated Circuits (PICs) which combine the nanometer scalability of modern electronic circuit fabrication procedures with the high bandwidth of photonic systems. The exploitation of surface plasmons is one method of realizing the integration of such technologies. I physically probed a hybrid dielectric nanowire plasmonic waveguide with 630nm, 980nm and 1550nm source wavelengths. In addition, I modeled the structure in COMSOL Multiphysics and developed an image processing algorithm in MATLB to process raw experimental data in order to approximate the effective propagation length and propagation loss of the hybrid waveguide.
Why I went:
I believed that partaking in an international research experience would enable me to free myself from the comfort zone under my mentor and graduate student supervisors at CCNY by placing me in a situation which would necessitate the application and development of the skills amassed though academic and research instruction to consider various science, engineering and technology fields from a new perspective & the perspective of those actually engaged in prospective careers that I may adopt in the near future. Furthermore, this opportunity would possibly facilitate the process of selecting a suitable discipline of higher education or a prospective career path in Optics, Material Science, Fiber Communications or an integration of these fields. I also reasoned that by engaging with a diverse group of students as part of a research team as well as the KTH research and technical staff would assist in the development of my teamwork, leadership and networking skills which are all necessary for a successful engineer in any field.
What I Learned:
My knowledge increased in three respects: academically, professionally and socially.
Academically, I learned to effectively utilize the tools in a powerful modeling software (COMSOL Multiphysics), practically applied my programming skills through extensive use of MATLAB, and became familiar with a wide array of new photonic equipment.
Professionally, I established networks with my professors and several PhD students as well as completed enough work to earn a co-authorship in a near future publication.
Socially, I explored literally new "world" previously unbeknownst to a mind conditioned by childhood and teenage instruction through Caribbean and North American cultures respectively, through my travels to neighboring European countries. By setting aside stereotypical tendencies and openly delving into new cultures, my mind is now a lot more open in terms of grasping the diversity of the world as we think we know so well.
The confines of a new laboratory, as interesting as it was in the first couple of weeks, quickly wore thin & the mind quickly became tired of monotonous laboratory procedures and constantly sought new avenues of exploration. And what better way to feed this yearning by exploring a land unlike any one is familiar with? With that said, it should not come as a surprise that much advantage was taken of the cheap air fares between the neighboring countries of Sweden & Holland, Paris, Italy, and Berlin. The weekend trips to these new countries were amazing - to put it lightly. The "must see" attractions of Holland, famous landmarks of Paris, canal tours of Italy, as well as the rich history and music festivals of Berlin made the weeks between trips fly by in anticipation of the next adventure. Also, the culturally unique land of Sweden was not forgotten & the Midsummer festival conveniently gave an unforgettable showcase of Swedish eats, drinks, history, tradition, beliefs and folk music. The thoroughly entertaining nightlife, bars, clubs and frequent barbeques also effectively served as a means of locally quelling the adventurous spirit.
Advice For Others:
Do research! But if you're not involved yet, here are some guidelines:
- Be aware of the most pressing research topics in your major
- Find a topic of interest to you
- Speak to your on-campus advisor/mentor about professors who conduct related research work on campus
- Seek placement in a laboratory setting
- Join the NYC-LSAMP program (Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation)
- Be serious about and dedicated to your project and reap the multitude of benefits as a research scholar
KTH Research Project Database
Nanophotonics Group at KTH