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NTU EEE undergraduate student research attachment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

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EEE student Khor Kai Sherng had a rare opportunity he just could not pass on. The 3rd year undergraduate student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering (EEE) with a second Major in Business had the the privilege of experiencing a research attachment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

“This opportunity came about as I have always been keen to go to MIT. Former Chair of EEE Prof. Yoon Soon Fatt knew about this and with his connections with MIT, he helped to secure a placing for me to spend the semester here.“

Kai Sherng felt it is very important to have an overseas experience to see the world outside of Singapore. “Our nation is small and we tend to be quite sheltered from the world around us. Seeing the world, both physically and intellectually, allows a student to gain much insights. I feel that in a short 4 months I have grown a lot as a person. It has allowed me to be clearer on the path I want to pursue in the next few years of my life. I have been inspired by the work that is being done in MIT and wish to follow a similar path.”

Living on his own also was an important step towards experiencing growth and independence. He said ”In terms of soft skills, I have learnt to be more independent and disciplined such as watching my diet, getting sufficient exercise, and keeping up with work. I have learnt to be a more thorough planner in considering all factors when I plan for trips around the States. I would strongly encourage other students to go for an overseas experience and get involved with the community on an intellectual level. There is much to learn and gain from them.

His enthusiam about his research project is obvious. “I have been tasked with an optimization project of Transparent Conducting Oxides (TCOs). These are essentially transparent semiconductors which are used in optoelectronic devices such as Solar Cells and Micro LEDs. Historically most TCOs are made using Indium Tin Oxide (ITO) but due to the scarcity of Indium, ITO is extremely expensive. Hence the TCO industry is moving forward to find suitable alternatives, such as Aluminium Zinc Oxide (AZO), which is the material that my lab has chosen to research on. AZO shows promising properties that are like ITO. However, the deposition conditions tend to affect the structure of the AZO film differently which affects the properties. Hence the optimum deposition conditions must be found. The goal of the project is to find the deposition conditions that allow for the lowest resistance of the film but the highest transparency.”

“To deposit the AZO, the source material is bombarded with high-energy Argon (Ar) gas atoms to release AZO atoms. These atoms will settle on pieces of glass which have been chemically cleaned to remove any impurities. Varying the power, pressure, and Ar gas flow used affects the rate and quality of AZO atoms deposited.”

Having spent about 2.5 months at MIT, Kai Sherng loves it there. “It truly is a place where the greatest technological minds congregate. People here are innovative and open to discussing their ideas and research. For example, there are people working on developing low-cost vaccines to make vaccines readily available for third world countries. There is also works to develop a new low-cost and more efficient desalination process to provide fresh water. I have learnt much just by listening to these discussions. Many here are highly passionate about what they do and are constantly innovating new ideas that might affect various industries in the world. I am highly motivated by them and am considering returning here for graduate studies in the future.”

I would like to give thanks to the following individuals who have assisted me in making this highly enriching trip possible:

  • Prof Yoon Soon Fatt, previous chair of the School of EEE, for giving me the chance to go to MIT and assisting in many administrative matters.
  • Prof Andy Khong Wai Hoong, my mentor, who has worked very closely with me to plan this trip and iron out many hiccups that surfaced along the way. He has also provided me much concern and support.
  • Prof Eugene Fitzgerald, who agreed to bring me in to MIT with his powerful influence and provided much assistance despite his extremely busy schedule.
  • Prof Jeehwan Kim, who welcomed me into his lab and tasked me with a meaningful project despite my inexperience.
  • Dr Hyunseong Kum, my project mentor, who is always ready to assist me and provide me advise on how to move forward.
  • Dr Loke Wan Khai, my mentor while I was attached to SMART-LEES for a month before the trip, who has taught me much about fabrication processes which was extremely useful for my project.




Deposition system




High energy Argon gas in the main chamber




Profilometer




Close-up look of the stylus measuring a sample




4-point probe




Close-up look of the 4 probes measuring a sample




UV/VIS/NIR spectrometer




Close-up look of a sample held in place before a light transmission test




One of the generated samples. The x is drawn on a piece of paper and the sample is put over it as a simple illustration of its transparency




No trip to MIT is complete without a selfie before The Great Dome​​


Published on 11 March 2019

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