Bulovic Group: Sulinya Ramanan

  1. The original mold (on the left) contains features on the order of 420 nanometers. PDMS was cast against this and placed on a thin film of an organic molecule called spiro-TPD. Without any added heat or applied pressure or chemical processing, the spiro-TPD is precisely patterned in the contacted areas.
    The original mold (on the left) contains features on the order of 420 nanometers. PDMS was cast against this and placed on a thin film of an organic molecule called spiro-TPD. Without any added heat or applied pressure or chemical processing, the spiro-TPD is precisely patterned in the contacted areas.

Meet Sulinya Ramanan, M.Eng. student in Electrical Engineering at MIT. Joining the ONE-Lab in the summer of 2009, Sulinya received dual S.B. degrees from MIT in Electrical Engineering (Course 6-1) and Physics (Course 8). Her research focuses on a novel elastomeric contact-printing method for creating nanoscale features in organic thin films.

Sulinya, how did you learn about the Bulovic group and what are the things that attracted you to it?

Sulinya Ramanan:
“Basically, I was a junior looking for an interesting UROP, preferably in a group with a large energy focus. As I was searching through pages of professors and research on the RLE website, the MIT Energy Initiative site and others, Professor Bulovic’s name came up again and again in articles, papers, and videos.

After watching an interview, I was really fascinated by the idea of using organics for electronics, and I had never heard of anything of the sort. I set up an appointment immediately, and started reading through papers and journal articles published by the group. After meeting with Professor Bulovic, I was further impressed by his knowledge, creativity and enthusiasm.

The group at ONE lab is terrifically interdisciplinary, and there is always a wealth of information to learn. The research is constantly changing and evolving so there’s always something new to try. I love that we have so much freedom to explore and try whatever new experiments we want.”

Could you describe your current work in the ONE-Lab?

Sulinya Ramanan:
“My work involves a novel contact-printing process by which we can create nanoscale features in films of organic small molecules over large areas without the addition of external heat, pressure, or chemical processing- all of which can damage organic materials. What my group has found is that, using relief-patterned polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) stamps, which is a rubbery silicone substance, we can create features on the order of 100 nm or less, over large areas.

Nobody has ever been able to do this so easily. This could, for instance, replace the costly, fragile shadow masks that are used to create pixels for OLED displays at low throughput; instead, we could use rolls of patterned PDMS to print pixels for organic displays, revolutionizing the display industry. Furthermore, we can pattern organic lasers, transistors, sensors, and other devices. The possibilities are endless.”

Could you describe how you first got interested in science and engineering and built your passion for this kind of research? (In other words, what advice would you give a potential student with similar interests?

Sulinya Ramanan:
“I can’t really say that there was ever a time that I wasn’t passionate about science and engineering, but I can certainly say that after coming to MIT, I was exposed to a multitude of fields as well as novel discoveries and developments in technology which I never imagined could be possible. I have always been very passionate about alternative energy and green technologies, so as an undergraduate, I was always looking for opportunities to learn about or engage in cutting-edge research.

During my junior year, I came across Vladimir Bulovic’s website, and I was fascinated with the idea of using organics for photovoltaics, lighting, and other applications. Honestly, it blew my mind. I decided I wanted to work at ONE Lab (formerly LOOE), and so I was given my current project for nanoscale patterning of organic small molecules. My project has so much potential to impact so many technologies; I am very fortunate to develop this process.”

In your wildest dreams what would you like to be doing (assuming you become a career scientist-engineer) ten years from now

Sulinya Ramanan:
“I have always been very passionate about environmental preservation, so I am inherently interested in increasing the energy efficiency of consumer technology and reducing production waste. I feel that the best way to do that is to put cutting-edge research into practice in industry.I think it would be amazing to one day start a company based on this patterning process. There is so much potential in what I do. And, while a lot of work must be done to further this research, this patterning process has the ability to spur growth in so many different fields in industry. My hope is that it will enable higher throughput in manufacturing as well as allow for the production of devices that were previously hindered by patterning challenges. Organic technologies, particularly lighting and displays, can sport very high efficiencies, and this ultimately is what drives me. I would like to facilitate their development and make their production efficient.”

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