MEng Projects List 2018-19

An MEng project may be completed in lieu of three half-courses. If you are interested in a project listed here, contact the professor directly. If you don’t see a project that is of interest to you, contact any of our other professors to discuss topics. Some MSE faculty members may have projects not yet listed here.

If you decide to complete a project, submit an MEng Course + Project Enrollment form to Maria Fryman, Graduate Program Counsellor & Administrator via email at maria.fryman@utoronto.ca or in person in the MSE Main Office, WB 140.  Then enroll in MSE3000Y. Note that Safety Training is required and will be provided.

Upon completion of your project, you must prepare an MEng project report for your project advisor who evaluates the report. CR (credit) or NCR (no credit) will be awarded.

Here are some of the projects available:

Advanced Photovoltaics & Devices Group

Nazir P. Kherani, Professor (ECE / MSE)
W: http://www.ecf.utoronto.ca/~kherani/index.html
E: kherani@ecf.utoronto.ca

Project: Investigation of Rf-Sputtering Parameters for Accurate Metallic and Dielectric Thin Film Growth

Applications of thin films have increased enormously with far-reaching implications for the fields of electronics, optical devices, solar cells and plasmonic sensors – to name a few. In order to fabricate devices at the nano-length scale, care must be taken while engineering various process parameters in relationship to film properties such as thickness and smoothness of metallic and dielectric thin films. Several methods for depositing such films exist. RF sputtering is one of those techniques where both metals and dielectrics can be deposited with great precision. The exact thickness of these films is dictated by various parameters which include: sputtering power, pressure, sputter gas composition, temperature, and film growth duration.

In the context of dielectrics, while radio frequency sputtering overcomes the limitations of the DC diode configuration vis-a-vis sputtering of insulator targets, care must be taken to ensure steady and coherent sputtering rates. The implication of applying radio frequency energy to an electrode is that the difference between atom/ion and electron mobilities is significant. This mobility difference leads to the formation of a negative potential on the target. Unfortunately, this negative bias effect can build up on both electrodes. Precautions can be taken in order to make sure that the target is the electrode that undergoes sputtering [1]. Also, RF sputtering is normally operated at pressures much lower than the DC diode configuration, usually between 0.1 and 3 Pa. The implication of these range of parameters need to be thoroughly understood in order to produce films with well-defined properties.

The objective of this project is to undertake an in-depth study of sputtering parameters.

Interested students will have the the opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge of thin film deposition techniques.

In order to successfully complete the proposed project, the collection and interpretation of process data and film properties with respect to the process variables must be achieved. The key milestones include:

  1. Demonstration of theoretical and relevant experimental knowledge of vacuum systems.
  2. Fabrication of various metallic ( Ag, Ti, Cr ) and dielectric ( SiNx, AlN, AlN:H ) films under various parameters.
  3. Characterizing thin films using spectroscopic ellipsometry,  UV/Vis spectrophotometer, microscopy (SEM, TEM, XRD) to infer thickness, smoothness and morphology of the films, XPS to determine composition.
  4. Preparation of a final project report describing the theory, experiments, results, analysis, and a detailed concluding outline of the precise relationship between sputtering parameters and properties of thin films.

[1] O’Leary, C. (1999). Design, construction and characterisation of a variable balance magnetron sputtering system (Doctoral dissertation, Dublin City University).

Flexible Electronics and Energy Lab (FEEL)

Keryn K. Lian, Professor
W: http://www.modeldrivenengineering.org/twiki/bin/view/Feel
E: keryn.lian@utoronto.ca

Project 1: Advanced polymer thin film electrolytes for solid energy storage

With the rapid grow of flexible and wearable technologies, solid, thin, and flexible energy storage devices including thin film batteries and electrochemical capacitors (ECs) and are also in high demand.   Polymer electrolytes are key enablers for such novel energy storage devices, which allows lightweight design, safe and seamless applications without electrolyte leakage.  Our group has been developing various advanced polymer electrolytes that can conduct proton, hydroxide ions and pH neutral salt ions to match and meet the chemistries of different electrolytes and reach the optimal performance.

The MEng projects will be working on one of the aqueous based polymer electrolyte systems emphasizing on the effects of organic or inorganic additives. The studies will start with material processing and composition optimization. The optimized materials will undergo detailed characterizations including on electrochemical, structural, chemical and thermal properties of the polymer electrolytes.

Project 2: Electrochromic materials and devices

Electrochromic materials can change colors reversibly and repeatedly during oxidation or reduction reactions under a small variation in electric potential.  They have promising applications in energy-efficient smart windows and optical displays.

The objective of this project is to explore some thin film electrodes and electrolytes for their electrochormic properties.  The electrochemical properties and optical properties will be studied in-situ and ex-situ.  The identified electrodes and electrolytes will be assembled to devices for further characterizations.

Computational Materials Engineering Laboratory

Chandra Veer Singh, Associate Professor
W: http://www.ecf.utoronto.ca/~singhc17/
E: chandraveer.singh@utoronto.ca

Project 1: Damage and failure analysis of composite airplane fuselage and wind turbine structures

Damaged-wind-turbine-blade_Singh

Figure 1: evolution of damage in wind turbine blade

Due to their lightweight, composites are widely used to manufacture wind turbine blades. However, accurately predicting progressive failure in composite materials under multiaxial and fatigue conditions has been a difficult task.

In this project, the student will improve the so called synergistic damage mechanics methodology by adding cohesive zone elements, implement in commercial finite element codes, and apply to the case of wind turbine blade and airplane fuselase composite structures.

The module developed from the project will be highly valuable in design of safe and long-serving airplanes and wind turbines

Project 2: Ultrastrong, ultralight nanocrystalline hybrid materials for future aerospace technologies

Crack-growth-Al-Mg-alloys_SinghCV

Figure 2: void nucleation and crack growth in Al-Mg alloys (blue atoms are Mg solutes in Al matrix)

While nanocrystalline metals and alloys have shown substantial enhancements in strength and hardness, improvements in ductility have been rather disappointing.

Recently, Integran Technologies has developed novel nanolaminated materials with significantly improved strength and elongation to failure while maintaining light-weight advantage. However, to realize the full potential of the proposed material systems, their failure characteristics need to be properly established.

The long-term goal of this project is to develop a fundamental understanding of failure mechanisms at the atomic-scale using molecular dynamics. Large-scale atomistic simulations will be conducted to evaluate material properties inaccessible to experiments and to derive cohesive laws that describe load-deformation characteristics of these nanomaterials.

Project 3: Artificial photosynthesis: Design materials to convert CO2 into hydrocarbons under sunlight

CO2-dissociation_SinghCV

Figure 3: carbon dioxide dissociation over hydroxylated indium photocatalyst.

There is a great research interest in developing technologies that can replicate plant lead and convert CO2 into useful hydrocarbon fuels.

In this multidisciplinary, multi-group project we will design novel materials that can help in improving efficiency of this process using a computational materials modeling techniques.

The student will be trained in state-of-art techniques to simulate these processes.

The developed models will be compared against experimental data obtained from collaborating researchers at U of T.

Project 4: Mechanical properties of two dimensional nanomaterials

2D-carbon_SinghCV

Figure 4: same atoms, wildly different behaviour—welcome to the world of 2D carbon

Since the discovery of graphene, intense interest has generated in developing two dimensional materials. More than 20 such materials have been synthesized, with intriguing electronic, chemical and mechanical properties. Many more have been theoretically proposed. These systems have important potential applications in electronics, energy, healthcare and transportation industries.

In this project, the student will utilize computer modeling techniques to predict mechanical properties of newly discovered two dimensional materials. Understanding fundamental structure-property relationships is a key outcome of materials science research, and this project will attempt to fill this gap for novel materials.

Nanomaterials Research Group

Uwe Erb, Professor & Associate Chair, Graduate Studies
E: uwe.erb@utoronto.ca

Project: Dendritic Growth of Cobalt Electrodeposits

Electrodeposition is a well established process in the surface finishing industry1). Various metals, alloys and composite materials are routinely electrodeposited for structural, functional and aesthetic purposes mainly on metals but also sometimes on polymers. These deposits are usually smooth surface layers with varying thicknesses depending on the application of the product. There are many process variables in electrodeposition including plating electrolyte composition, temperature, current density, stir rate of the plating solution, etc. These parameters can be adjusted to make very interesting metal structures by electroplating. An example is the nanocrystalline structure which usually requires very high current density applied during pulse plating2). This project seeks to explore the use of electroplating to make dendritic and porous cobalt electrodeposits with very large surface areas for potential use as catalyst support structures.

Organic Optoelectronics Research Group

Zheng-Hong Lu, Professor & Canada Research Chair, Organic Optoelectronics
E: zhenghong.lu@utoronto.ca

Project 1—Metal Electrodes for Electronic Devices:
characterization of metal thin-film microstructure, electrical conductivity and optical properties

Project 2—Relationship between microstructure and electronic structure in organic semiconductors:
establishing a relationship between microstructures of organic semiconductors and electronic properties

Project 3—Perovskite LEDs:
development of LEDs based on a new type of perovskite materials

Process Metallurgy & Modelling Group

Kinnor Chattopadhyay, Assistant Professor
W: http://www.pm2g-uoftmse.com/
E: kinnor.chattopadhyay@utoronto.ca

Project 1: Tundish flow optimization in slab casters

Fluid flows in the tundish play a dominant role on steel quality from continuous casters. Presently three steel companies are collaborating with U of T in the area of tundish flows. In this project, the student will perform water modelling of tundish flows, and will develop parametric studies for enhancing  and optimizing tundish flow control behaviour. The student will be also interacting with the company engineers and is expected to develop solutions which will be tried in the plant to improve steel quality.

Project 2: Machine Learning Based Models for Ferrous and Non Ferrous Processes

Metallurgical Processes generate a lot of process data, and while the data is being captured, it is not often analyzed for improving and fine tuning processes. Most metallurgical operations would perform multiple linear regression which is a very basic form of data analysis. In the present project , the student will be involved with analyzing industrial data from steel and aluminum companies and will develop machine learning and ANN models using open source programs like R or Python. The student will be assisted by a Post Doctoral Fellow and at the end of the project a machine learning platform will be developed to assist metallurgical operations. The student will heavily interact with industry personnel and is expected to visit a few mills in Canada.

Project 3: Inclusion Engineering and Related Thermodynamics and Transport phenomena

Inclusions are generated in steel from a variety of sources and one major source is alloys addition. The quality of alloys added and the sequence of addition play a major role in inclusion formation. In this project, the student is expected to perform thermodynamics calculations to understand the effects of alloy quality and additn sequence and predict the type of inclusions generated. Also ways to mitigate inclusion formation will be studied. The student will collaborate with two steel companies and also IPN Mexico.

Project 4: Welding Flux Design using Thermodynamic Modelling

While welding is a fascinating process for materials joining, and it has many aspects to consider, the designing of welding fluxes is a key issue, and falls under the domain of process metallurgy. In this project, welding fluxes will be designed for the submerged arc welding process for heavy sections and thick steel plates primarily used  in off shore structures and ship building. Depending on the steel chemistry and operation conditions, the flux chemistry needs to be optimized. The student is expected to carry out thermodynamic simulations using different software and will be assisted by a post doc. This project will be in collaboration with a couple of steel companies and also North Eastern University in China.

Project 5: Tundish metallurgy – Open Eye Formation and its effects

Inert gas shrouding is a common practice in tundish metallurgy and has manifold benefits. However, there are a few detrimental aspects associated with it and these include the formation of a slag open eye around the ladle shroud, instability of the slag/metal interface, and slag entrainment in to the strands. So there is significant scope of improvement in inert gas shrouding practices. Inert gas shrouding systems can be of different kinds, including a direct injection system, a refractory ring system, and in some cases may be a combination of these. One of the major problems is to determine the optimum inert gas flow rate, and how much inert gas actually enters the steel. As such, inventing or designing an effective method to control and monitor the amount of inert gas entering ladle shroud under high temperature conditions is absolutely necessary. The other important factor is the bubble size distribution, and plume behaviour inside the tundish due to inert gas aspiration. To answer these questions, physical and mathematical modelling is a robust technique, and will be applied in this project. A reduced scale tundish of AMD’s slab caster is already available. Multiphase flow particle image velocimetry technique will be used to see the motion of gas bubbles in the inert gas shrouded tundish. A speed sense camera will be used to characterize the bubble plume, and measure the bubble size distribution under low and high speed gas flows. . The student will be also interacting with the company engineers and is expected to develop solutions which will be tried in the plant.

Smart and Adaptive Polymers & Composites Laboratory

Hani E. Naguib, Professor & Canada Research Chair, Smart & Functional Materials
W: http://sapl.mie.utoronto.ca/
E: naguib@mie.utoronto.ca

Project 1: Conducting Polymer Based Pressure Sensors for Electronic Skin Applications

Human skin is the largest sensory organ in our bodies allowing us to safely maneuver within our surrounding environment. This physical barrier which enables us to interact with our physical world comprises several sense receptors through which information from a physical contact transduces into electrical signals. An artificial skin, also referred to as smart skin or electronic skin (e-skin), with human-like sensory capabilities can make a significant impact on the autonomous artificial intelligence as well as surgical tools. This can be achieved by providing a sensory perception even better than their organic counterparts. In addition to force sensing as the primary function of human skin, other functionalities such as mechanical/electrical self-healing along with flexibility/stretchability are of great importance to be considered in an e-skin. The project will investigate the design and fabrication of a pressure sensor mimicking the main characteristics of natural skin, potential of using conducting polymers as piezoresistive sensors for electronic skin applications.

Project 2: Development of shape memory alloy (SMA)/ shape memory polymer (SMP) actuator composites for artificial muscle applications

Electroactive polymers (EAPs) are polymeric based materials that can undergo large amount of dimensional change and produce significant reaction force when a voltage is applied to them. Among all types of EAPs, shape memory effect (SME) is one of the most promising solutions due to its high response stress/strain that can be produced by the materials. The deformation is governed by the phase changing under different temperature which can be controlled via Joule heating. Currently, one of the major research focuses is on improving the strain and stress of different types of EAP during actuation. Objectives of the proposed project include: (i) design, fabricate, and characterize SMA and SMP materials, (ii) construct and characterize novel composites by combining or embedding SMA into SMP matrix, and (iii) verify the performance in terms of their actuation motion, including maximum displacement, curvature, and force response.

Project 3: Development of Materials for Triboelectric/Supercapacitor Energy Harvesting/Storage Device Prototyping

This project focuses on the design, development, characterization, and prototyping of a high-performance triboelectric energy harvesting and storage device. This device combines various forms of material-based energy generation technologies, stores the energy that it generates, and delivers the maximum power and energy output as no researchers have previously attempted to do so. Two research steps shall be taken (i) Verify and Improve: Replicate and verify the traditional design of nanogenerators from literature. Then design a tri-layer system, which can be achieved with PVDF-HFP co-polymer electrolyte, as this polymer is capable of delivering both the functionalities of an electrolyte and piezoelectric generator, making it possible to make all-solid-state and completely flexible nanogenerators. (ii) Design and Invent: Design of continuous charging device that combines the nanogenerators and improve the utilization of the power and energy output by making single modules that combine the generator with a specially designed supercapacitor.

Project 4: Development of bio based and bio inspired  materials and  composites

The proposed research aims to bridge sciences to technology by investigating the processing-structure-property relationships of multifunctional biobased polymeric composites. It aims to design and fabricate smart “green” materials that possess tailored multifunctional properties. In this context, the short-term objectives of this research project are two-folded: (i) designing novel processing and fabrication strategies to tailor the micro-and-nano-structures of biobased polymeric composites; and (ii) characterizing the structures and multifunctional properties of these composites. This research will improve the fundamental understanding of using various processing strategies and material sciences to control the dispersion and network formation of functional fillers in new biobased matrices. Hence, it will offer new insights to fabricate these composites with tailored multifunctional properties. This will result in the development of an innovative and new class of green electronic composites that can be used in lightweight functional materials with high performance.

Surface Engineering & Electrochemistry (SEE) Group

Steven Thorpe, Professor
E: steven.thorpe@utoronto.ca

Project 1: Bulk Metallic Glass Applications in Biomaterials

While amorphous metals / metallic glasses along with nanocrystalline materials have shown substantial enhancements in many properties, a newer class of materials, bulk metallic glasses (BMG’s), provides an opportunity to make macroscopic materials combining the best attributes of both metallic glasses and nanocrystalline materials together with unique chemical and electrochemical properties. Currently, the Surface Engineering and Electrochemistry (SEE) group is to expand and develop new BMG chemistries and their application in the area of resorbable biomaterials.

Project 2: Mechanical Alloying Applications in Ethylene Production

Amorphous metals / metallic glasses along with nanocrystalline materials have shown substantial enhancements in many properties, especially in the area of electrocatalysis of various reactions. Currently, the Surface Engineering and Electrochemistry (SEE) group is examining the fabrication and properties of Ni-base metallic glasses combining synthesis via mechanical alloying with structural analysis and electrochemistry in order to optimize their stability, and electrochemical activity in water electrolysis.  The long-term goal of this project is to expand and develop new mechanical alloying chemistries and their application in the area of CO2 conversion to ethylene via electrolysis.

Project 3: Electrolyser Design

Currently, the Surface Engineering and Electrochemistry (SEE) group is examining the fabrication and properties of various metallic glasses combining synthesis via mechanical alloying with structural analysis and electrochemistry in order to optimize their stability, and electrochemical activity in water electrolysis.  The long-term goal of this project is to take advantage of these new nanocatalysts in developing and optimizing the design of a novel electrolyser with respect to cell components and systems design.

Centre for Nanotechnology

Harry E. Ruda, Professor, Stan Meek Chair Professor in Nanotechnology
E: harry.ruda@utoronto.ca

Project #1: Design of Solar Energy Collector System

Development of nanocoatings for thermal energy absorption and heat transfer in conjunction with novel coatings for mirror collector systems to enhance overall heat collection and storage in a solar energy system.

Project #2: Nanostructured Electrode Materials for Wastewater Treatment

Entails the deposition and electrochemical characterisation of the performance of electrode materials used in electrochemical destruction pollutants in wastewater.

Project #3: Nanowire Materials Development

Focuses on chemical vapour deposition of novel materials in nanowire form useful for their novel electronic and optical properties. The work also entails building sensor/detector arrays from such nanowires.

Nanomaterials Research Group

Uwe Erb, Professor & Associate Chair, Graduate Studies
E: uwe.erb@utoronto.ca

Project #1: Dendritic Growth of Cobalt Electrodeposits

Electrodeposition is a well established process in the surface finishing industry1). Various metals, alloys and composite materials are routinely electrodeposited for structural, functional and aesthetic purposes mainly on metals but also sometimes on polymers. These deposits are usually smooth surface layers with varying thicknesses depending on the application of the product. There are many process variables in electrodeposition including plating electrolyte composition, temperature, current density, stir rate of the plating solution, etc. These parameters can be adjusted to make very interesting metal structures by electroplating. An example is the nanocrystalline structure which usually requires very high current density applied during pulse plating2). This project seeks to explore the use of electroplating to make dendritic and porous cobalt electrodeposits with very large surface areas for potential use as catalyst support structures.

  • Schlesinger and M. Paunovic, Modern Electroplating, 5th ed., Wiley, 2010
  • Erb, G. Palumbo and J. L. McCrea, The Processing of Bulk Nanocrystalline Metals and Alloys by Electrodeposition, in Nanostructured Metals and Alloys, S. H. Whang (ed.),
  • Woodhead Publ., Oxford, UK, 2011

Project #2: Hardness of Electrodeposited and Cold Sprayed Copper on Used Nuclear Fuel Containers (Supervisor: U. Erb)

  • Canada has been producing electricity using the CANDU nuclear reactor for many decades. Currently the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is developing a Deep Geological Repository for final storage of used nuclear fuel. The used fuel container is mainly made of mild steel with an outer 3mm thick layer of electrodeposited or cold-sprayed copper to give the container corrosion protection for more than 100,000 years.  In this project the mechanical properties of the copper layers will be evaluated by microhardness profile measurements as a function of copper application process variables. This project is ideal for a team of two students.
  • Link:https://www.nwmo.ca/~/media/Site/Reports/2017/03/20/14/25/EN_ImplementingAPM_2017to2021_Final_web.ashx?la=en

Laboratory for Extreme Mechanics & Additive Manufacturing

Yu Zou, Assistant Professor
E: mse.zou@utoronto.ca

General research activities: Our group uses novel experimental, analytical, and computational tools to explore materials with extreme properties or under extreme conditions, particularly metallic materials. We aim to bridge the gaps between metals, mechanics, and manufacturing (3Ms), covering many length and time scales. Among our research areas of interest are high-entropy alloys, nanomechanics, and additive manufacturing (3D printing). In particular, we want to advance fields of vital importance to society, including the aerospace, biomedical, electronic, environmental, and energy sectors.

M.Eng. projects available: We are currently looking for highly motivated students who enjoy working in a collaborative environment. We welcome students with backgrounds in materials science, mechanical engineering, physics, electrical engineering, and related fields, particularly in physical metallurgy, mechanics, and instrumental design. Current projects are listed below:

  • Mechanical and thermal stability of nanostructured high-entropy alloys
  • Nanomechanical testing of metallic alloys at small scales and in extreme conditions
  • Mechanical properties of titanium and magnesium alloys for aerospace and biomedical applications
  • Instrumental design for a laser 3D printing system
  • Machine learning for materials design and intelligent manufacturing

If you would like to join us, please contact Prof. Zou (mse.zou@utoronto.ca) for more specific projects and include your CV, a brief statement (a short paragraph) of your interests related to our research, and examples (e.g., project reports or papers) of your recent work.