June 25, 2011
Before I began my Cal Energy Corps placement, I assumed that my internship at Academia Sinica in Taiwan would be similar to the my prior lab research experience at UC Berkeley where I had worked with a graduate student on his continuing research and had limited control of the experiments that we undertook. Here I have been very lucky that the Ph.D. candidate I work with just started a new project, so I have a chance to be involved in a new topic. We are mixing a commercially available membrane, Nafion, with other compounds to improve the performance of the membrane. Though the original idea is from the professor who supervises our work, the Ph.D. student and I work together to fill in the many details. This involves searching relevant academic papers, changing the parameters of our experiments, and interpreting results.
July 2, 2011
Our research has been progressing during the past month. Spectroscopy confirmed the identity of the graphene oxide we made, and we were successful in making hybrid membranes of Nafion and graphene oxide. We are now starting to measure the properties of the membranes such as proton conductivity, thickness, and methanol crossover in a DMFC.
In addition, I would like to briefly describe the meetings I attend here at Academia Sinica on a regular basis. The first one is a big group meeting for all team members. Usually three doctoral students and/or postdocs present from 6pm to 9pm on Thursdays. Those are opportunities to learn from each others' work. Sometimes, members give short introductions to the conferences they attend, so others can have chance to gain insight into presentations given at international seminars. Secondly, each subgroup has a biweekly group meeting during lunch time. For example, our energy group has a lunch meeting on every Tuesday, and these meetings provide a platform for master students to present their progress every two months. Thirdly, we have a small team meeting held by a senior researcher (he is already a professor) on Fridays. The meetings on Friday allow junior researchers to get feedback on their daily progress; and I have had opportunity to express my ideas during these meetings. Sometimes the master students treat us to lunch during the Friday meetings, and we enjoy our time socializing.