I could not be more pleased with the way my summer has gone thus far. Currently, I am finishing up the last week of my internship before I head back home and travel with friends. As a recipient of the University of Chicago Institute for Molecular Engineering Metcalf Fellowship, I was able to work in the Patel Research Group at UChicago to continue a research project I had begun winter quarter. The Patel group currently is focusing on understanding the potential use of thermoelectric organic polymers for the purpose of battery and cooling systems. My project focused on understanding how changes in the morphology of polymer films can have an effect on its thermoelectric properties in hopes of developing ways to maximize these properties.

If implemented into the market, these polymers have the potential to have huge impacts on making current systems more efficient and sustainable. Both cheaper and more flexible than the current metal alternatives, these polymers would be able to fill niche roles where earth metals are economically and functionally inefficient. Their implementation would reduce the need to mine rare earth metals, thus curbing the social, political, and environmental effects associated with its extraction. Furthermore, the cheapness and flexibility of these polymers would allow for applications across a variety of areas that are currently incompatible with metals. Most promising is the cooling application which could be used to accurately control body temperatures of patients in surgery.

Outside of the lab, I have tried my best to take advantage of the endless events that Chicago has to offer over the summer, everything from free movies at Millennium Park and food festivals to horse races and concerts. On top of that, I also have been focused on training for the Boilerman Triathlon in which I will be competing in September. Training for the triathlon has allowed me to enjoy the great weather and appreciate beauty of the lake shore path in the summer. Looking forward to next year, I am excited to get to know the EAF team and work alongside them on our upcoming projects.

Dino’s post is the second of EAF’s summer blog series introducing the 2017-18 EAF members.