MEng Projects List

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  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.

Available Projects:

Surface Engineering & Electrochemistry (SEE) Group

Steven Thorpe, Professor

Project 1: Is Porsche on to something great???

Porsche has always been a leader in automotive technology and is driving its future into new areas of sustainability. Although the future trend of vehicles is towards battery, hybrid, and fuel cell powered vehicles, that still leaves 1.3B current combustion engines on the road for years to come. Porsche has invested in a new process, Efuels, that combines renewable hydrogen production with CO2 sequestration from the air to make ethanol and ultimately gasoline/diesel fuels in a sustainable manner. This project looks to critique the material, process, and infrastructure in developing a life cycle assessment of this emerging technology.

Project 2: Mechanical Alloying Applications in Hydrogen and Oxygen Production by Electrolysis

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 electrolysis. The long-term goal of this project is to expand and develop new mechanical alloying chemistries and their application in the area of electrolysis and water splitting reactions.

Project 3: Electrolyser Design

Currently, the Surface Engineering and Electrochemistry (SEE) group is examining the design, fabrication using 3D printing, and electrochemical properties of membraneless alkaline water electrolysers. The long-term goal of this project is to take advantage of new nanocatalysts being developed within SEE in developing and optimizing the design of a novel membraneless electrolyser with respect to cell components and systems design.

Orthopaedics Biomechanics and Cartilage Research

Adele Changoor, Assistant Professor


Project 1: Development of a Digital Image Correlation System for Measuring Strains in the Pelvis

Hip replacement surgery successfully treats end-stage hip disorders by replacing the joint with metal and polymer parts. Around 8% of patients need revision surgery within a decade due to issues like loosening, dislocation, or infection. One solution for challenging surgical cases involves a cup-cage construct, which provides load relief until biological fixation by bone ingrowth occurs over time. Surgeons may manually modify the metal components depending on the patient’s bone quality and anatomy, however, to date there have been no biomechanical studies investigating the effects of modifying these components on the off-loading characteristics of the cage. This study aims to characterize biomechanical changes in the pelvis that result from cup-cage modification by measuring strain distributions over the pelvis during physiological loading. The student will develop and test a digital image correlation system for three-dimensional measurement of strain on bone surfaces. They will then deploy this system during biomechanical testing of cadaveric hemi-pelvises under various experimental conditions.

Project 2: Understanding Non-invasive Measurements of Cartilage Quality using Data Science Strategies

Electroarthrography (EAG) is a method by which electrical signals produced by cartilage are measured non-invasively through electrodes placed on skin surrounding an articular joint, analogous to the collection of other bio-potentials such as electrocardiography. The electrical signals produced by cartilage result from the way this highly specialized tissue responds to weight bearing and are directly linked to cartilage quality. In our lab experiments on joint explants, we simulate joint loading and collect EAG measurements from 6 to 8 skin electrodes at one of 3 levels of load, then we open the joint to directly measure cartilage quality. The EAG measurements are influenced by cartilage quality as well as other factors like load level, contact area, and joint angle. This project aims to isolate the cartilage-specific component of the EAG measurement using data science strategies. The student may also participate in performing experiments as described above.

Flexible Electronics and Energy Lab (FEEL)

Keryn K. Lian, Professor

Project 1: Waste biomass-based electrode materials for supercapacitors

The increasing demands for low-cost clean energy storage devices have led to significant research for suitable electrode materials for Supercapacitors. One of the promising approaches is to develop low-cost carbon materials with high specific surface areas and hierarchical pore structures to store energy at high power densities.  Activated carbons (ACs) are commonly used as electrode materials for their high specific surface area and relatively low cost.  ACs can be synthesized from waste biomass such as pinecone, tea waste and crustacean shells. These natural materials possess unique structural morphologies, and surface chemistries which can be exploited to improve the capacitive performance and thus the energy density of the electrode.  Furthermore, these porous carbons can act as substrates for charge-storing redox-active species, forming composites.

Biochars, the precursors of AC, are synthesized from waste biomass prior to chemical activation and can serve as inexpensive yet high performing electrode materials. The main objective is to optimize the conversion of some biomass waste (e.g. pinecone, used tea leaves) into useful electrodes. This study will focus on: (i) using design of experiments methodologies for investigating the waste pinecone or tea-based biochar/AC synthesis process to achieve optimal process conditions, (ii) characterizing the electrochemical performance, morphological features and surface chemistries of the biomass-based electrode material made.

Project 2: Thin flexible solid supercapacitor devices

With the rapid advances of printed and wearable electronics, thin, safe and flexible energy storage have also reached high demand. Solid supercapacitors, enabled by polymer electrolytes and advanced electrodes, can provide such solutions to be integrated seamlessly into wearable electronics. In Flexible Energy and Energy Lab, we have developed various high performance and high safety polymer electrolytes and have demonstrated many solid supercapacitor devices.  To move these materials to the next level, solid-devices with multiple cells in-one package has been attempted with some preliminary success.

The proposed research will continue to develop solid multi-cell supercapacitors leveraging the developed electrodes and polymer electrolytes. Starting from single cells to 2-in-1 package, you will learn to make electrodes from coating process, apply the polymer electrolytes and apply proper sealing materials. You will test the supercapacitors using both dc and ac electrochemical techniques. Failure analyses will also be performed using various microscopic tools.

Smart and Adaptive Polymers & Composites Laboratory

Hani E. Naguib, Professor & Canada Research Chair, Smart & Functional Materials

Project 1: Design optimization of polymer nanocomposites with enhanced mechanical properties.

Polymer nanocomposites play a crucial role in automotive and aerospace industries, which often offer enhanced mechanical, thermal, electrical and gas barrier properties particularly at elevated temperatures when compared to the neat polymer. The primary objective of this project is to optimize the content and distribution of a selected nanoparticle in a thermoplastic matrix to achieve the highest dynamic and static mechanical properties. The student will learn the design of experiment, operation of state-of-the-art compounder, injection and compression molding, dynamic mechanical analyzer, creep tester, Instron tensile and compression tests and differential scanning calorimetry during the period of this project to develop the required skillset for manufacturing and analysis of composite systems in their future academic or industrial positions

Project 2: Analysis of Origami-Inspired Metamaterials using Digital Image Correlation

Duration: 1 year

This project tracks the movement of origami-inspired materials. One component of the project involves 3D printing the origami shapes, deforming them, and tracking the change in shape of the origami using digital image correlation. Digital image correlation uses images from two synchronous cameras to measure the locations of points in 3D space. The duties for this Meng project will include calibrating the cameras, extracting data from the photos, and analyzing the results. The camera calibration and data collection are done in Matlab. The results will be compared to data collected from a Solidworks model. Knowledge of Matlab and Solidworks is useful and some basic linear algebra knowledge is required to manipulate the data. Enthusiasm and a willingness to learn is the most important asset.

Note: This entire project can be done remotely.

Project 3: 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 4: 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 5: 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 6: 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.

Project 7: Development of new thermoplastic composites for applications under extreme conditions

Project Description: This project involves the characterization of the fiber-matrix interfacial properties in reinforced thermoplastic composites targeting high strength and resistance to extreme operating conditions including high temperature and pressure. The student will be involved with the manufacturing and characterization of various composite systems including single fiber pullout testing as well as analysis of the interface by scanning electron microscopy.

Primarily, the project will investigate the effectiveness of different coupling agents and additives on improving the strength of the fiber-matrix bond which are key to determine the performance of the overall composite. The student will be involved in the selection and research into various coupling agents for the relevant material systems. Primarily the project will involve single fiber pullout testing, a technique developed to specifically measure the interfacial properties. The student will be involved in the preparation and testing of the samples. Part of the project will utilize various imaging techniques, such as scanning electron microscopy, to investigate the wetting and adhesion of the fiber to the matrix. Additionally, the fiber composites will be characterized by the classification of all relevant mechanical properties including young’s modulus, yield stress, and stress-strain behaviour.

Best suited to Extended full-time students

Project 8: Development of Environmentally Benign Nanocomposite with Excellent Thermal Stability

The widespread applications of polymeric materials require the use of additives in order to satisfy safety regulatory standards regarding thermal stability. However, in recent years conventional additives are raising environmental and human health concerns, therefore require alternative materials that offer same level of performance. The goal of this project is to address this challenge by developing a new generation of environmentally benign additives with outstanding thermal stability properties. Objectives include: (i) to secure short-term and long-term stability of nanocomposite including homogeneous dispersion of additives into various polymer matrices, (ii) to characterize various new additives for their respective performance, (iii) to study combined synergic effect between multiple additives for improved overall performance. This project will involve various processing strategies, material science knowledge and characterization techniques to develop nanocomposites with desired properties.

Best suited to Extended full-time students.

Project 9: Additive manufacturing next generation polymeric materials

Polymer composites play a crucial role in automotive and aerospace industries, which often offer enhanced mechanical, thermal, electrical and gas barrier properties particularly at elevated temperatures when compared to the neat polymer. The primary objective of this project is to develop a particulate/lamellar/laminar composite system with enhanced creep resistance. The student will learn the design of experiment, operation of state-of-the-art compounder, injection and compression molding, dynamic mechanical analyzer, scanning electron microscopy, pull-off adhesion tests and differential scanning calorimetry during the period of this project to develop the required skillset for manufacturing and analysis of composite systems in their future academic or industrial positions.
Project 10: Development of polymer composite systems with enhanced mechanical properties at elevated temperatures.

Additive manufacturing (3D printing) is revolutionizing the methods of product fabrication by providing freedom of design and a vast but growing choice of materials. This research project aims to develop novel fabrication methods and materials(polymers) with high performance and tunable properties implementing additive manufacturing and potential intelligent process development methods.

We are looking to support a highly motivated and talented MEng student for this project with the desired qualifications as follows:

  • Engineering degree, preferably in Mechatronics or Mechanical engineering
  • Good knowledge of engineering design and system development
  • Basic knowledge of materials, manufacturing methods (preferably additive manufacturing), characterizations, and testing
  • Interest in conducting both experimental and theoretical research
  • Good knowledge of image processing and hands-on experience with machine learning

What we offer:

  • A challenging and interesting job in a highly dynamic and multidisciplinary work environment
  • The opportunity of being engaged in one of the leading areas of advanced manufacturing and contribute to the development of the next generation of materials and processes
  • Analysis and evaluation of the achieved results in the team

Advanced Photovoltaics & Devices Group

Nazir P. Kherani, Professor (ECE / MSE)

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 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).


Organic Optoelectronics Research Group

Zheng-Hong Lu, Professor & Canada Research Chair, Organic Optoelectronics

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


Laboratory for Extreme Mechanics & Additive Manufacturing

Yu Zou, Assistant Professor

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 ( 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.

More available related projects can be found here:


Additive manufacturing and mechanical properties of materials across length scales.

Instrumental design for a hybrid laser 3D printing system

A key hurdle for the mass adoption of Metal Additive Manufacturing (MAM) is the formation of flaws, which leads to inconsistent product quality. To reduce defect density, adaptive control of the parameters during manufacturing is highly desirable. This project aims to design a hybrid vertical milling + directed energy deposition (DED) M-AM system, which will be extended in the future to achieve closed-loop control. A hybrid M-AM system is advantageous in that it makes and postprocesses parts within one integrated process, and that it postprocesses areas that may not be accessible after the prints are finished. The students will be working on building the machine with major components, i.e., laser source, deposition head, powder feeder, CNC vertical mill, etc. The students will collaborate in team with other students to work on the mechanical and electrical integration and make sure all components coordinate properly. Students are expected to have experiences and knowledge in control system design, LabVIEW, PLCs etc.

Hybrid Metal 3D Printer Illustration and Possible Control System Design

Hip Implant with integrated calcium polyphosphate 

(Co-supervised by Prof. Marc Grynpas)

There is a need for press-fit hip implants to have a calcium phosphate coating to encourage bone remodeling and bone fixation. The main approach is plasma coating of hydroxyapatite (like the mineral of bone). A technique that is not entirely satisfactory, because of the possible separation of the coating and the implant.

We propose a new method using calcium polyphosphate types of cement to integrate the calcium polyphosphate into the metal of the implants (titanium alloys, stainless steel, and special high-strength alloys). This can be done by ionizing the metal surface in a bath of calcium polyphosphate cement for complete integration of the two materials. This new approach will lead to press-fit implants that will optimize the bone remodeling and the bone fixation of the implants.

Computational Materials Engineering Laboratory

Chandra Veer Singh, Associate Professor & Associate Chair, Research

For more info, contact:


Project #1 AI enabled design of high entropy alloys for structural applications

Design of new alloys has been traditionally achieved through trial-and-error, which tends to be time consuming and overly expensive. In this project, we will aim to design new high entropy alloys using a combination of high throughput simulations, machine learning, and available experimental data. Newly proposed alloys will be analyzed using quantum-mechanical simulations to evaluate their mechanical properties for potential structural applications. This project will be conducted in collaboration with National Research Council of Canada (NRC) via their new AI for materials initiative. The students will be trained on atomistic simulations, and the development of ML algorithms; hence, consequently, the students will gain excellent exposure to the emerging field of data sciences in MSE. The complete project work can be achieved remotely, on supercomputing facilities provided via Compute Canada.

Project #2: AI guided design of photocatalysts for CO2 and nitrogen reduction reactions

Since the discovery of graphene, there has been intense research in developing two dimensional materials for various applications in electronics, energy, healthcare and transportation industries. Consequently, more than 20 such materials have been synthesized, with intriguing electronic, chemical and mechanical properties. Many more have been theoretically proposed. In this project, the student will utilize atomistic simulations to study CO2 and nitrogen reduction on a broad range of 2D materials substrates and metallic single atom, double atom, and triple-atom catalysts. ML algorithms will then be used to generate correlations between catalyst chemistry and predicted ability for CO2 and nitrogen reduction. The students will be trained on atomistic simulations, and the development of ML algorithms; hence, consequently, the students will gain excellent exposure to the emerging field of data sciences in MSE. The complete project work can be achieved remotely, on supercomputing facilities provided via Compute Canada.

Project #3: Discovery, design, and optimization of all solid-state battery materials using machine learning

Battery research is at the forefront of electric vehicles of the future. However, the current Li-ion battery technologies utilize liquid electrolytes, which are prone to cause fire hazards. Therefore, solid state electrolytes (SSEs) are being developed for future battery technologies. Nevertheless, the current SSEs have low ionic conductivities, which lead to a very slow charge/discharge rate, and lower battery capacities. In this project, the students will work on developing a comprehensive database for various properties of potential chemical compounds and utilizing the latest machine learning algorithms developed in our lab to propose new SSE chemistries. The best potential compounds will be further investigated using density functional theory (DFT) simulations. This project is in collaboration with National Research Council of Canada (NRC) via their collaboration center with UofT on green energy materials (CCGEM) – in the medium-term, our collaborators at NRC would conduct experimental testing on proposed materials. The students will be trained on atomistic simulations, and the development of ML algorithms; hence, consequently, the students will gain excellent exposure to the emerging field of data sciences in MSE. The complete project work can be achieved remotely, on supercomputing facilities provided via Compute Canada.

Project #4. Finite element based multiscale analysis of progressive failure in composites and additively manufactured parts

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. Similarly, predicting failure in 3D-printed parts is quite complex. In this project, the student will work on improving a multiscale methodology to investigate failure in additively-manufactures parts and composite materials, implement the developed algorithm in commercial finite element codes, and apply for practical structures. The module developed from the project will be highly valuable in design of safe and long-serving airplane parts and renewable energy structure such as wind turbines. The students will be trained on multiscale failure modeling, and the development of python codes for FE applications; hence, consequently, the students will gain excellent exposure to the computational mechanics field. The complete project work can be achieved remotely, on supercomputing facilities provided via Compute Canada, and in-house high-end workstations.

Sustainable Materials Processing Research Group

Mansoor Barati, Professor, Gerald R. Heffernan Chair in Materials Processing & Associate Chair, Undergraduate Studies

Project 1: Developing a Sustainability Index for Consumer Products

Numerous surveys are showing that consumers are preferring sustainable products when given a choice, and are ready to pay a higher price for them. However, the onus is often left on the consumers to do researches of different extent, rely on unquantified statements of the producers, or trust the word-of-mouth to make a choice. It is believed that a simple-to-read index (or small number of indices) will allow consumers to make data-supported informed choices about purchasing sustainably produced goods. The purpose of this study is to conduct a survey of the sustainability indicators for consumer products, and synthesize the information to produce a quantitative metric that could potentially be applied to the product labels.

Project 2: SO2-Free Extraction of Nickel from Sulfide Ores: Alternative Iron Sources

Nickel is an essential strategic metal with many applications in our daily life with applications in stainless-steel products, batteries, etc. , stainless steel pipe, batteries etc. Annually almost half of the total nickel is produced from sulfidic nickel ores with a considerable amount of sulfur dioxide emissions. Therefore, it is of significant interest to mitigate the potential SO2 emissions when extracting nickel from the sulfidic ores. We are working on a novel method of Ni extraction that eliminates smelting-oxidation of the Ni concentrate, thus recovering Ni into a metal while leaving sulfur in a solid residue (hence no SO2 emission). As part of this study we would like to look into the use of an inexpensive source of one of the additives in the process (iron), for example by using iron oxide and reductant. The student will conduct an experimental study on this aspect of the work and will me mentored by senior graduate students and the PI.

Project 3: SO2-Free Extraction of Nickel from Sulfide Ores: Optimization of Iron Addition

Nickel is an essential strategic metal with many applications in our daily life with applications in stainless-steel products, batteries, etc. , stainless steel pipe, batteries etc. Annually almost half of the total nickel is produced from sulfidic nickel ores with a considerable amount of sulfur dioxide emissions. Therefore, it is of significant interest to mitigate the potential SO2 emissions when extracting nickel from the sulfidic ores. We are working on a novel method of Ni extraction that eliminates smelting-oxidation of the Ni concentrate, thus recovering Ni into a metal while leaving sulfur in a solid residue (hence no SO2 emission). As part of this study we would like to look into the effect of iron addition to the concentrate (as one of the variables) aiming to reduce the use of iron and improve the product grade. The student will conduct an experimental study on this aspect of the work and will me mentored by senior graduate students and the PI.

Electronic-Photonic Materials Group

Harry E. Ruda, Professor, Stan Meek Chair Professor in Nanotechnology

Project 1: CO2 sequestration with nanoparticle-sand beds

With increasing urgency in addressing climate change, solutions are required to mitigate and eliminate emissions into the atmosphere, particularly greenhouse gases (GHG). The most significant GHG (in terms of volume produced) is CO2. To avoid adding more CO2 to the atmosphere as a result of their industrial operations, our industrial partner has identified sub-terranean sequestration of CO2 as a possible means to accomplish this. Part of this solution involves the development of suitable adsorptive beds in which the CO2 can be stored. A number of factors are available for designing engineered adsoprtive beds, but fundamentally increasing available adsorptive surface area is key. One way to achieve this is through the use of nanoparticles interspersed within the adsorptive bed to create a multi-scale, multi-composition matrix. This project will look at the role of nanoparticle material, size, and concentration on CO2 adsorption selectivity, through empirical or numerical methods.

Project 2: Nanoimprinting lithography (NIL) of sub-micron structures

In developing sub-micron/nanoscale structures, relatively expensive and/or time-consuming process steps involving tools such as e-beam lithography (EBL) and reactive ion etching (RIE) are employed. While this can provide for high resolution structures, this is not a feasible fabrication method for massive scale-up of production, especially if the structures are to be used once, e.g., to avoid cross-contamination after exposure to a sample in sensing applications. The structures generated from EBL/RIE can be used as master templates from which casts can be made using cheaper/simpler processes, such as UV epoxy curing, or PDMS casting. This project will look to develop reliable process steps to replicate structures (designed for sensing applications) with sub-micron/nano-scale features, to characterise the resulting replicates through a variety of techniques.

Project 3: Application of nanostructures to radiation monitoring in cancer treatment

FLASH radiotherapy is a newly developed radiotherapy method using ultra-high dose rate (UHDR) treatment. However, it has not been put to clinical use due to the lack of a corresponding dosimeter and dosimetric system that can work reliably under UHDR. A potential route to developing an appropriate dosimeter is through optically stimulated luminescence using nanostructures to detect the ionizing radiation. Our previous work with ZnSe and BeZnO nanostructures have shown that, through control of composition, geometry, and dimensions, spectrally tunable structures may be generated, with picosecond response and very hugh photoconductive gain. Such structures make ideal candidates as dosimeters based on OSL. In this project, the fabrication of suitable nanostructures with control of composition, geometry, and dimensions will be explored, as will their subsequent characterisation and optical response to exposure to radiation. This project involves collaboration with Princess Margaret Hospital.

Project 4: Reliability studies of photovoltaic modules by Finite Element Analysis FEA

Due to heat generation during operation and conditions of specific geographic locations of photovoltaic (PV) module installations, temperature variation and harsh environmental effects critically affect their reliability. The project involves use of FEA modelling of thermomechanical behaviour of PV modules and correlating the results with test data from the industry. In particular, finger breakage and mechanical failure are observed more frequently at the ends of a cell busbar. 3D FEA modelling will be used to predict the displacement and stress concentration around these regions, and help guide towards more reliable designs with better thermal management.

Project 5: High throughput imaging-based analysis of plant growth

Next generation crop treatments, such as molecular delivery-based Smart Crop Technology (SCT), are being designed to be highly specific to asingle species or even subspecies of organism to ensure Canadian Farmers have the tools they need to remain economically viable and produce high quality food for Canadians and the international community. There are two components to SCT – the nano-carrier that can penetrate into the tissues of the target organism, and the programmable effector molecule complexed to the carrier that acts to modify the biochemistry. A key part to studying the performance of SCT is through its monitoring through non-invasive, high-throughput imaging-based phenotyping techniques. This project involves developing automated phenotyping to get contextual data about nano-material (NM) penetration and toxic impacts of NM treatments, with plant height, stem width, and leaf surface area the phenotypes that we aim to extract. Logging the physical attributes of the plants will be valuable in monitoring and controlling this variable.

Project 6: Development of nanowire field-effect transistors for biochemical sensing

Development of state-of-the-art biochemical sensors is an ever-evolving field where nanotechnology is increasingly useful. A sensor with the ability to distinguish multiple species can serve as a protection to the end-user when exposed to dangerous gases or hold use in biological cases where one wishes to identify specific molecules with pristine accuracy. Indium Arsenide (InAs) based nanowire field-effect transistors (NWFET) are used due to their high sensitivity to surface binding events. Creation of these sensors requires designing/improving upon robust processing techniques using modern fabrication methods. Our previous experimental work with these sensors has established that InAs NWFETs are capable of sensing ultra-low analyte concentrations (<50 ppb). Creation of a library of molecular sensing responses and the underlying binding mechanism will hold significance as the NWFET sensors technology matures. Furthermore, engineering a miniaturized sensing platform that is low-cost, efficient, and diverse in its sensing ability will have widespread utility and value.

Functional and Adaptive Surfaces

Benjamin D. Hatton, Associate Professor & Associate Chair, Graduate Studies


Project 1: Rates of drug release from thin films

Our group has developed antimicrobial drug-loaded films, in collaboration with Dentistry, to release these drugs in dental or orthopedic implant applications. This project aims to measure the rates of drug release over time, using precise measurements of density changes in the films. One technique will be to use ellipsometry (Hatton group), which is a powerful method to measure the refractive index of thin films. In addition to ellipsometry, you will be involved in making the drug-loaded films, and use scanning electron microscopy (SEM), x-ray diffraction (XRD), and potentially x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and TEM.

Project 2: Drug-silica nanocomposite particles by spray formation

Recently our group has published papers on the self-assembly of certain (commercially available) drugs with silica (glass) to form interesting nanocomposite structures (C. Stewart, Y. Finer, B.D. Hatton, Drug self-assembly for synthesis of highly-loaded antimicrobial drug-silica particles, Scientific Reports 8 (2018) 895.). This project aims to further develop a spray method to form these drug-silica particles rapidly and uniformly, based on preliminary results. Characterization will include optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and x-ray diffraction (XRD).

Project 3: Writing nanoporous carbon structures on a surface using a programmable XY ‘pen’

This project aims to program an XY translation stage for the writing onto surfaces of colloidal particles (silica glass, ceramic or polymer) as an ‘ink’ suspension that can self-assemble into self-organized nanocomposite structures. Previously we have developed methods to directly assemble particles into highly-ordered, close-packed (FCC) structures through ‘co-assembly’ (Hatton et al, “Assembly of large-area, highly ordered, crack-free inverse opal films” PNAS 2010). Polymeric spheres can act as a template for a matrix material, such as silica glass, carbon nanotubes or graphene. Now, we would like to write these carbon structures on a surface using a programmable stage, to deposit complex layered structures.

Project 4: Self-cleaning of superhydrophobic plants

There are many examples of non-wetting, superhydrophobic plants (and insects), based on the Cassie-Baxter ‘lotus’ effect. This lotus effect is known to help such surfaces ‘self clean’ through the rolling action of water droplets to pick up dust/dirt particles, and is a good example of ‘bio-inspired’ design. But there have not been detailed studies of this self-cleaning mechanism. This project aims to collect a wide range of plant specimens (from natural environments, researchers, botanical collections) and experimentally test their self-cleaning properties. Also may include testing microbial adhesion. Characterization will include contact angles, optical microscopy and scanning electron microscopy (SEM).


Laboratory for Nanobiophotonics

Kai Huang, Assistant Professor


Project 1: Controlling the Nanocrystal Growth of Persistent Luminescence Nanoparticles

Persistent luminescence nanoparticles (PLNPs) exhibit a distinct property of emitting light continuously after the excitation light ceased, by storing the excitation energy in traps for subsequent slow release. Benefiting from the exemption of real-time excitation, PLNPs have immense potential for various biomedical applications, such as background-free bioimaging, deep-tissue photodynamic therapy, and long-term biomolecule tracking. However, conventional solid-state syntheses or hydrothermal syntheses have limited control of the nanocrystal growth process due to the limited tunability of the reaction conditions. In this project, we aim to apply microwave synthesis, which provides real-time fine-tuning of the reaction conditions, to achieve controllable nanocrystal growth of PLNPs. Objectives of this project include: (i) to control the PLNPs nanocrystal growth by tuning the heating-up, incubation, and cooling-down stages during microwave synthesis; (ii) to characterize the crystal structure, morphology, and particle size distribution of the PLNPs; and (iii) to investigate the size/morphology-dependent persistent luminescence of PLNPs.

Project 2: Development of Mechanoluminescence Nanomaterials with Enhanced Luminescence for Stress Sensing

Mechanoluminescence (ML) nanomaterials are materials that emit light under mechanical stress or pressure. Due to their unique properties, they have attracted significant research interest for potential applications in sensing, imaging, and structural health monitoring. ML nanomaterials have high surface area and small size, allowing for high-resolution sensing of small changes in pressure or stress. However, conventional ML nanomaterials suffer from weak luminescence and non-tuneable emission spectrum. In this project, we aim to enhance the luminescence of multi-color ML nanomaterials by optimizing the nanomaterials preparation conditions, making them advantageous for stress sensing. Objectives of this project include: (i) to synthesize multicolor ML nanomaterials through high-temperature solid reactions; (ii) to characterize the crystal structure, morphology, and particle size distribution of the synthesized materials; and (iii) to apply the ML nanomaterials for stress sensing.

Nanotechnology, Molecular Imaging & Systems Biology

Naomi Matsuura, Associate Professor


Project 1: Minimizing drug degradation during anti-cancer drug carrier synthesis

Potent, hydrophobic chemotherapy drugs are employed to treat cancer patients. These drugs can be directly loaded into ultrasound-responsive bubble carriers for triggered release near the tumour site. However, these drugs can degrade during their incorporation into the carrier because of the high temperature and pH of the synthesis process.

It is hypothesized that the addition of a so-called degradation inhibitor can significantly minimize the extent of degradation of the chemotherapeutic drug. The study therefore will examine the impact of drug degradation during the formulation process of ultrasound-stimulated bubble-based drug carriers using citric acid as a degradation inhibitor. The following objectives will be pursued: (1) assess the drug degradation and in vitro stability of drug-loaded bubbles following the incorporation of citric acid at three different acidic pH values at a fixed heating temperature and duration; (2) examine the physical characteristics of precursor drug-loaded droplets with and without citric acid; and (3) evaluate the in vitro cytotoxicity of drug-loaded bubbles synthesized with citric acid at the optimized pH on murine mammary breast cancer cells.