My STEP project was to work with the Graphene Factory to create and implement a method of transferring CVD grown graphene to SiO2 wafers as cleanly and reliably as possible. The main method this was accomplished was via an acetone bath and ozone cleaning of residual polymers. Additionally, the development of hexagonal boronitride would eventually enter the project as a reliable dry transfer method of graphene that would not result in any residue or defects in the graphene.
During the project I became familiar with many common laboratory practices in condensed matter physics, and discovered that experimental condensed matter physics would be a fairly good fit for me as an aspiring physicist. Before I was interested in many parts of physics but was unsure of what focus I would have or what kind of career path would be a good fit for me. Now I think I would particularly enjoy solid state physics within industry as an experimentalist. Additionally, I learned how interesting and difficult it is to conduct many experiments within physics. The Graphene Factory is responsible for material creation for other materials projects within and outside of OSU in order to help these other groups research the materials without having to put in the effort of creating materials and understanding fully the methods of fabrication.
Over the summer I was trained on a number of instruments and learned their applications as they pertain to the various projects happening in OSU’s condensed matter programs. I learned a great deal and read more when I became aware of the instruments, and this gave me a small understanding of how many projects are conducted in condensed matter.
My particular project initially was to test the efficacy of ozone cleaning on wet transferred graphene. This was evaluated by optical microscopy, and had clear effects on the graphene. It was possible with the testing method to visibly see reductions in the differently colored PMMA residue on the wafer as the ozone clean progressed. Conducting an actual scientific experiment with impact on the group as a whole was satisfying because there was a clear benefit to the product being produced by the group as a whole.
Additionally, working with the Graphene Factory was an encouraging experience to me. It is exciting to work with my peers on common projects and to solve problems encountered along the way. In any group project, everyone typically has different and interesting ideas to solve problems and learning our collective differences can help to mix up the way we think about problems in general.
Before this project, I was unsure of my future career as a physicist, but afterward I am confident that it is a good fit for me. I now know that I enjoy at least some experimental work in condensed matter physics and that I would not be disappointed going to Graduate studies in condensed matter.