The innovation engine for new materials

Nikki Le


Sanger High School

Grade Level: 

High School

Teaching Position: 

General Chemistry and AP Chemistry


Mike Gordon




Oleksandr Polonskyi

Research Project Year: 


Research Project Title: 

Microplasma Jet Modification of Polymer Surfaces

Research Project Description: 

Multifunctional surfaces found in nature have received significant interest from the scientific community because they provide careful control of surface chemistry and structure over different length scales. For example, a lotus leaf has self cleaning properties due to its ultrahydrophobicity; the nanostructure of the lotus leaf prevents the adhesion of water which allows for water to pick up dirt particles. The project attempts to manipulate surface chemistry and structure with a microplasma jet to create multifunctional surfaces that have hydrophobic/phillic, antibacterial, and/or self-cleaning properties. The goal of this work was to characterize fluid flow and electrical properties of the microplasma jet, and how a microplasma jet can modify surface chemical and structural properties. Current-voltage (IV) data and images of the microplasma jet were taken under different current, argon flow, background gas pressure, and jet-substrate distance conditions. Microplasma jets were then used to modify surface structure and chemistry of silicon and polymer substrates; surfaces were characterized using x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, water contact angle, and atomic force microscopy.  Initial characterization results suggest an ordered microstructure of these substrates after controlled exposure to the microplasma jet.



Curriculum Project Year: 


Curriculum Project Title: 

Chemistry in Agriculture

Curriculum Project Description: 

This project is a series of investigations designed to be used in combination with lectures on how chemistry is used in agriculture. The activities address various NGSS standards, with an emphasis on environmental science. Students will also be utilizing an interactive science notebook to not only collect/record data, but also to promote and reflect student thinking. Students begin the unit with writing their initial thoughts about images shown to them of various crops with nutrient deficiencies. From there, students will perform serial dilutions to understand the concept of parts per million, which is commonly used in agriculture to describe that quantity of nutrients available, and used to calculate the appropriate amount of fertilizer to apply. The students will then use this knowledge to determine which fertilizer is appropriate to amend nutrient deficiencies in their school farm’s vegetables based on the fertilizer’s percent composition of the nutrients needed. Next, students will rotate around stations around the classroom to mimic various points of the nitrogen cycle to learn about the different processes. The culminating activity asks students to take on the role of an agronomist, an agriculture consultant, to analyze the pH of three soil samples and to advise the farmers on how to best amend their soil to maximize their crop production or transition to growing a different crop. FOR CURRICULUM RESOURCES PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE.

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