Patrick Upton interns at MIT's Lincoln Laboratory

Patrick Upton

When Patrick Upton was a high school student in Wexford, Pa., his chemistry teacher told him about the field of materials science and engineering and encouraged him to give it a try in college. "I looked into the subject more after that and really found the overall topic interesting,” said Upton. “With materials science in mind, I took ENGR 145 (in Fall 2020 at Case Western Reserve University) and got hooked on the subject."

Now a rising junior, Upton is spending the summer digging into his interests in semiconductor processing and manufacturing at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory, mostly focusing on microfabrication and microplasma sputtering. Every day, he makes samples from the lab’s microplasma sputterer, then takes measurements of the sample to see if it changes through different conditions. He credited his research at CWRU for giving him measurement techniques to use on the materials.

Upton has also been working on an IC circuit processing project and creating wafers for satellite devices using techniques such as grayscale lithography and wet chemical etching. Primarily working with silicon based materials and gold nanoparticles, he has been able to create gold thin films.

One of the things Upton has appreciated most about his summer is getting to observe the microfabrication process firsthand. “At CWRU, I was able to learn about these processes through lectures and notes, but I was unable to perform these techniques first hand,” he said. “With this internship, I truly have been able to take what I learned in the classroom and use it in real life applications.”

"Discoveries through electronic materials research are essential to the growth of technology,” he added. “I find it amazing the different ways materials can be used and manipulated to create faster and more efficient devices.”

Back at CWRU, Upton is a member of the Electroceramics Group, where he has learned about the research and development that goes into materials for energy applications. He thanked the group leader, Associate Professor Alp Sehirlioglu, for giving him opportunities to learn about the applications of electronic materials.

Additionally, Upton is vice president of the Undergraduate Materials Society, an academic and social organization for Materials Science & Engineering students, which he encouraged incoming students to join. “We are here to help the undergraduate students find their way,” he said.