Ph.D. Student’s Research into Novel Intermetallic Compound Gains Traction

By Amanda Campanaro

John Sypek

Third-year Ph.D. student John Sypek

John T. Sypek, third-year Ph.D. student in Assistant Professor Seok-Woo Lee’s lab, was first drawn to UConn because of the MSE program’s strong ties with industry. Now he is earning recognition nation-wide for his research achievements.

“My contribution with the guidance of Dr. Lee has been preparing these superelastic shape memory intermetallic compounds using a focused ion beam in order to mill out micron sized pillars and testing them using an in-situ nanoindentor,” John explains. “I can perform analysis of the mechanical behavior of these materials providing data on the fundamental science the materials mechanical behavior.” In addition, he has been working with Dr. Lee to build and incorporate a cryogenic apparatus with the in-situ indentation system in order to study temperature effect at extremely low temperatures.

Using a newly-built in-situ cryogenic micromechanical testing system, the team plans to test the novel intermetallic compound at low temperatures, then further optimize their system to reach the lowest testing temperature possible.

The research into these intermetallic compounds with ThCr2Si2-type structure has already received wide recognition, including acknowledgement at the most recent MRS international symposium in Boston.

This sample is a micropillar which is milled out by a focused ion beam (FIB), with which John performs compression tests using the in-situ mechanical testing system.

This sample is a micropillar which is milled out by a focused ion beam (FIB), with which John performs compression tests using the in-situ mechanical testing system.

“Currently I have one paper under review for publication and another being submitted,” John says. “However, I won first place in the poster competition at the Society of Engineering Science (SES) Technical Meeting, which is one of the largest ‘Mechanics’ conferences in the U.S., in Fall 2016.” He also recently won first place at the UConn School of Engineering graduate poster competition this Spring 2017.

John earned his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Among the reasons John choose to attend UConn MSE for his degree are the laboratories and facilities available to students, faculty mentorship, and the close connection with corporate affiliates.

“The MSE laboratories and facilities have greatly aided in the caliber and effectiveness of my research. The faculty and staff who run these facilities are extremely knowledgeable and helpful,” John says. “Faculty mentorship has greatly influenced learning and research during my time in the MSE graduate program. The faculty are always engaging and supportive whether it is in or out of the classroom.”

Particularly, he looks forward to using the new UConn-FEI Center for Advanced Microscopy and Materials Analysis. “The new UConn-FEI and the renovations to come to IMS will not only further improve and enhance my research, but the research being done at UConn as a whole.”

He adds that “UConn is able to provide students with access to corporate affiliates, which benefit both parties through collaborative research and possible future opportunities for employment.”

Furthermore, John’s experience in MSE has been shaped by attending conferences to share research. “The most defining aspects of my UConn experience has been traveling to places such as Boston and San Diego, presenting my research at conferences in front the top researchers in my field and being recognized by the conference societies for my work,” he says.

John’s future goals are to work in the aerospace or automotive industry leading a research and development lab. “MSE helped me to build and improve upon the technical and soft skills needed in this line of work.”