MEng Projects List 2019-20

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:


Smart and Adaptive Polymers & Composites Laboratory

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

New projects to begin in January 2020:

Project 1: 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 2: 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.


Functional and Adaptive Surfaces

Benjamin D. Hatton, Associate Professor
E: benjamin.hatton@utoronto.ca

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).


Advanced Photovoltaics & Devices Group

Nazir P. Kherani, Professor (ECE / MSE)
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 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
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
For more info, contact: chandraveer.singh@utoronto.ca

Project #1 Irradiation effects in 2D materials

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. However, the effect of irradiation on their physical and mechanical properties have not been understood well. Here, the students will conduct molecular modelling of irradiation effects in a broad range nanosheets made of 2D materials such as graphene, graphene oxide, MoS2 and other transition metal dichalcogenides.

Project #2. AI driven alloy design (in-collaboration with Prof. Yu Zou)

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 testing, simulations and machine learning. The students will be trained on atomistic simulations, experimental testing and ML algorithms. Newly proposed alloys will be tested for their mechanical performance.

Project #3: AI driven design of photocatalysts for CO2 reduction

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 reduction on a broad range of 2D materials. ML algorithms will then be used to generate correlations between catalyst chemistry and predicted ability for CO2 reduction.

Project #4. Finite element analysis of progressive failure in composite structures

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.


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

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.


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, Associate Professor
E: kinnor.chattopadhyay@utoronto.ca

Project 1: Design of process control model and integration system of a water atomization process coupled with embedded machine learning module

Additive Manufacturing (“AM”), also known as 3D Printing, is the future of manufacturing business and has unlimited industrial applications, from traditional industries such as Automobile, Ship making and Construction, to more advanced in Nuclear, Aerospace and Biomedical applications. AM grade metal powders are one key category of materials used in 3D Printing, which will grow at highest speed for the next two decades among all AM materials. The production of AM grade metal powder is carried out using a metallurgical process called atomization and the process atomization is combined of highly non-linear and transient physical phenomena. In essence, the atomization process involves applying high speed jet of water or gas onto molten metal/alloy stream, through which metal stream is shattered and cooled rapidly into ultra-fine powders. The metal powders are collected and screened to different sizing distribution where the finer portion will be likely to meet the specification requirements from AM industry. Nonetheless, there are many other parameters involved in this process than just particle size distribution and significant research efforts have been and will be on the topic of developing better model to characterize the atomization process. One key area of research is to describe the dynamic behaviors of the atomization system at different set of conditions and to optimize several key product properties by manipulating certain process parameters using a proper process control system, such as PLC or DCS controller. The successful candidate will study the fundamental theory and actual plant data provided, construct the dynamic model using proper software and conduct dynamic simulation and optimization using algorithm developed.

The key milestones include:

–         Collect and compile proper dynamic models from studying of different theorems and broad literature review.

–         Architect and construct the dynamic simulation model using one the commercial package.

–         Optimize the dynamic process model by controlling certain selected process parameters.

–         Preparation of a final project report describing the theory, simulation results, analysis, and a detailed concluding outline of the precise dynamic behavior of atomization process at different conditions and production mode.

Ideal candidate:

  • Experience with process automation and control system in an industrial setting
  • Fundamental understanding of PID control loop design and tuning, PLC/DCS programming
  • Experience in commercial control system simulation software package

 


Surface Engineering & Electrochemistry (SEE) Group

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

Project 1: Improved Corrosion Resistance of Rock Bolts used in Mining Applications

Many different designs and alloy chemistries are currently being used to fabricate rock bolts for underground mining operations.   This project involves compiling a database of current designs, alloy chemistries, and corrosion performance with the intent of designing new alloy chemistries for improved corrosion resistance in various mine site environments and benchmarking these against existing alloys.

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 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 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.


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.

Project 4: Implementation a Raspberry Pi based real time system for acquisition and analysis of spectroscopic data

The project will entail using visible and IR cameras to acquire and analyse spectral data from plants to assess real-time changes in biochemistry during growth.


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.


Investigating First-year Engineering Education 

Faculty advisor: Prof. Chirag Variawa

In this study, we seek to systematically optimize the transition process for prospective first-year undergraduate students, easing their integration into the university educational system by concentrating on scaffolding preparedness, resilience and grit, and measuring effectiveness and persistence in practice as appropriate.

Some commentators have described “learning shock” in shifting from a knowledge- and application-based learning paradigm to independent assessment and evaluation as the primary reason why so many promising students do not pursue engineering careers and subsequent advancement.

We need to understand what resilience and grit means, their attributes from theory/practice, and how this understanding influences transition to and from an undergraduate program of technical instruction, specifically engineering education. Additional analyses can be performed on how the first-year undergraduate environment and program account for this; and how this transition needs to be managed. It is recognised that there is a balance to be struck between anxiety and effective student development, but unclear what that balance should be at each stage of the transition. Though engineering students may not experience physical stressors directly, the impact of intellectual and other stressful environments may play a role in performance and mental/physical health. Research would include working with Outreach and Recruitment, the First-year Office, and with stakeholders in the undergraduate engineering program at Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering, University of Toronto.

Contact: Prof Variawa chirag.variawa@utoronto.ca

Research Area: Engineering Education