Avik Samanta, Ph.D. student, Mechanical Engineering
Engineers materials with lasers
• Hometown: Kolkata, West Bengal, India
• Faculty mentor/advisor: Hongtao Ding, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering
• What is your degree program and expected graduate date? Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, May 2020
• Please describe your research: My research uses lasers to alter the wettability of the engineering metal alloys so that it can repel water (superhydrophobicity) or attract water (superhydrophilicity) at a fast processing rate. I simultaneously generate nanoscale structures and appropriate chemistry on metal alloys to tune the surface wettability.
• In simple terms, why does this research matter? The wettability of a metal surface influences its performance in many engineering applications which involve interaction between solids and liquids. Examples include icing, bacterial contamination, corrosion damage, lubrication, heat transfer, etc. By altering the wettability by laser processing, I can improve the performance and operation life of metal surfaces in real-world engineering applications, thereby reducing the risk of failure.
• How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? I started doing research in my first semester at the University of Iowa.
• How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? The skillset I gained by involved in research – communicating and collaborating with other disciplines, critical thinking, budgeting resources, and time, generating new ideas from existing knowledge – gives me more clarity in shaping an idea into a research problem. During my Ph.D., I have had the opportunity to present my work at international conferences, meet and form connections with experts in my field as well as other associated fields that I would not have had otherwise.
• What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? After finishing my doctorate, I plan on pursuing a career as a faculty member at an academic institution and continuing my research work in laser material processing of metals and advanced materials in both application front and fundamental science.
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