Week 5: A Day in the Life of Ben

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Sunday, June 29, 2014


Benjamin Perez

It's interesting how fast 5 weeks will go by when doing research. One minute you are scrambling to take in all this information the project throws at you and the next your advisor is talking about your final presentation. Granted, I have a little work to do before July 25th but that date is coming up fast. I had made progress with the transistor and have started to developed relationships with the scientist here at NIST. I have dedicated this post to explaining an average day in my life at NIST and hopefully it will give you some insight of what I actually do.

My day starts out with the morning commute all the way from Foggy Bottom out to Shady Grove. The trip last about an hour and fifteen minutes with the additional shuttle ride to NIST from the train stop, but it is worth living downtown to make the journey daily. The time frame is just long enough to read the morning paper on the train. I am able to stay educated on current events and know what Capitol Hill is up too. Once at NIST everyone from the shuttle departs for their respective buildings. Mine is named 225 and that is where I have spent the past 4 weeks at work.

After, I walk up the stairs I head to my office where Jason Ryan, an engineer with his PhD in Material Science from Penn State, and Ken, from Rutgers with a PhD in Electrical Engineering, both work. From that point on I sit in front of the computer screen for the next 8 hours of the day and run COMSOL. COMSOL is the simulations software that allows me to operate various forms of physics such as electrical circuits all the way to chemical diffusion. It has a wide range of applications and I am using this software to theoretically test and measure the transistor. Granted, Not all of the eight hours are spent on the computer; I do get up to use the bathroom, and I do walk around and talk to the scientists around the office, but a majority of my time has been spent on the computer running COMSOL and learning the back ground physics to what is happening, why is it happening and what is the significance of the event.

The past two days, I spent my time learning the Fokker-Planck equation along with distributions and trajectories of particles. This will apply to the device when we apply a lump of charge to our transistor and I have to be able to know what effects will happen over time. I am expecting those electrons to disperse across the surface and affect the electrostatic of the device. So far, I have unsuccessfully modeled the diffusion of electrons over a surface. I am having trouble applying the right physics to the system, and running the correct boundary conditions. I will continue to scour the web for tutorials and any resource to help me run the simplest case so I know how to apply it to our own system.

This has been a different summer of research than what I experienced last year. I feel I spend a lot of my time learning about the concepts and the ideas behind the transistor. I have loved that I understand the physics of what I am doing and why I am seeing the results that I am. Arvind, my advisor, constantly quizzes my knowledge so I know the purpose behind what I am simulating. He is a great guy and has helped me out tremendously this summer. I enjoy this academic stimulation at NIST and doing the theoretical work for the project. I am excited to get back to the grind next Monday, and hopefully accomplish the entire model of the transistor by the end of the internship.

Benjamin Perez