Senior Science Research Fellow Spends Summer at NASA

Senior Science Research Fellow Spends Summer at NASA

August 8, 2003

August 8, 2003, Greencastle, Ind. - Andrew Schmitt, a senior chemistry and mathematics double major and a member of DePauw's Science Research Fellows program, is wrapping up a summer to remember. Schmitt spent 10 weeks of his summer break this year working at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, participating in the LERCIP (Lewis' Educational and Research Collaborative Internship Program) program. A summer internship program for students of science, engineering, professional administrative, and technical areas, LERCIPs are intended to provide students with professional experiences to complement their academic programs.

Andy Schmitt's research project this summer was to study the chemistry of semiconductor quantum dots (nanometer-sized particles) in the photovoltaic and space environments branch. Scientists at NASA are exploring the use of quantum dots in next-generation solar cells, but much remains unknown about the growth of these particles, particularly in the first moments of chemical nucleation. Schmitt sought to shed some light on the synthetic pathways by creating chemical analogues of the species believed to be responsible for quantum dot nucleation, and studying whether these analogues are suitable starting materials. He also tried to elucidate which structural features are required in a good precursor.

Sharing a laboratory with several NASA scientists and contractors, the DePauw senior was able to experience some of the day-to-day routine of working in a government lab. Schmitt's time was spent doing experiments at the bench, performing spectroscopy studies, and attending a few seminars both inside the branch and at a local university. Outside of work, he played on an intramural softball team and joined his fellow interns in some organized social events.

The summer of 2003 marks the third summer that Andy Schmitt has participated in scientific research while a student at DePauw. His research with assistant professor of chemistry Hilary Eppley during the 2001-02 academic year and the summers of 2001 and 2002 led to the synthesis of a new mixed-metal inorganic polymer that will be published in the near future. He presented a poster of his research from his work at DePauw at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society in March of 2003 in New Orleans, Louisiana.