A Hop Across The Pond
This summer I had the amazing opportunity to travel to England for two and a half weeks as part of my research. I worked with Dr. Emma Barney at the University of Nottingham’s Advanced Materials department. Not only did I accomplish tons of research, I was also able to travel around England and do some site seeing.
During my first full summer of research at Coe, Doc Feller thought I would be a good fit for a project related to tellurium dioxide glass. A group from England had visited Coe at one point to attempt making samples made purely from TeO2, which is very hard to make in large quantities, and managed to make about 10 gram samples. They had run out of sample and needed more, so someone at Coe had to make it for them. I took on the project and tried to make the glass following the procedure from Dr. Barney, but couldn’t replicate their results. I spent that summer trying different techniques to create it. I managed to make a few grams of pure TeO2 and learned a lot about its structure.
Dr. Barney wanted some of the samples I made to run extra tests on them, so it was decided I would travel to England with the samples and do research with her for a few weeks. I had always wanted to travel to England, so this was a dream come true. I traveled to Manchester by plane from O’Hare, armed with a few samples of glass I had made, and then took a train to Nottingham. Dr. Barney met me there and took my to the University, where I was shown to my living arrangements and had my first Tesco experience. Since I arrived on a Friday and research didn’t start until Monday, I spent some time resting to get over my jetlag, and exploring the campus and the nearby town of Beeston. The University of Nottingham’s main campus is much bigger than Coe’s, to say the least.
(Trent Building on the University of Nottingham campus.)
The day after I arrived in England, Dr. Barney invited me to visit the Rutherford-Appleton Lab where she had done some work with neutron scattering. We toured the ISIS facility, where the neutron scattering takes place, and the Diamond Light Source, where x-rays are generated. It was a public visit day so I didn’t get a personal in depth tour, but it was still very interesting and some of the glasses I made during the summer will undergo neutron scattering there!
(A model of the ISIS neutron scattering facility at the Rutherford-Appleton lab.)
The research I conducted during my two weeks mostly consisted of making barium tellurite glass samples by plate quenching. I made six samples and ran all but one of them on the DSC at the University. I then compared the DSC results to those of a past student of Dr. Barney’s. I also spent a lot of time analyzing Raman date gathered from previously made barium tellurites and strontium tellurites. I fitted the Raman peaks using Guassian fits and compared different techniques to see which gave the closest fit to the peaks. I also made calculations to find the coordination number of the tellurium in the barium and strontium glasses. I also got to see the largest NMR setup in the UK and glass being drawn into fibers (which involved wearing a clean suit).
(In the clean room for the fiber drawing.) (The largest NMR set up in the UK, located at the University of Warwick.)
Besides research, I also did some traveling! I spent a weekend around London and was able to attend the London Film and Comic Con on Friday night with a friend. Earlier in the day I went to the science museum in Kensington. I stayed with another friend I knew who lives about one hour outside London in the Southend-On-Sea for the rest of the weekend. Saturday, she took me back in to London, where I visited the Tower of London, saw the crown jewels, and walked across the Tower Bridge. I even got to stand on the bridge when it went up to let a boat go by, which only happens once a month these days, so it was a big deal! Sunday was spent walking around Southend-On-Sea, which is a hot destination for Londoners in the summer. It has the world’s longest pleasure pier, which extends over a mile off the coast and is so long it has its own train. I am very grateful to my friend for letting me stay with her for the weekend!
(Part of the Tower of London.)
(End of the world’s longest pleasure pier in Southend-On-Sea.)
(Me in front of the Tower Bridge!)
I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to experience this opportunity. It will possibly open doors for me in the future, and I am continuing the research I did with Dr. Barney here at Coe this semester. The professors also say to make sure you get a passport when you join the department and this is why!