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Student Spotlight: Aktar Al Hossain

Inspired by nanoscale dimensional surface structures, Aktar Al Hossain seeks to combine his knowledge in fluids and transport processes with the nanofabrication methods needed to develop novel thermos-fluid and micro/nanofluidic systems. Aktar is currently a graduate student and research teaching assistant attending Stony Brook University.

aktar 1Tell me about your job - where you work, the industry, location, any specific role(s)?

I am a PhD student and a research assistant in The Microscale Thermo-Fluid Dynamics (MTFD) group directed by Professor Carlos Colosqui. A key part of my job involves working at The Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN) in Brookhaven National Lab (BNL). My dissertation research is on the design, fabrication, and analysis of nanostructured surfaces for different applications in fluid mechanics, heat transfer, and energy conversion. More specifically, I am fabricating periodic nanoscopic structures up to the size of 10 nanometers using block copolymer self-assembly.

What type of research are you conducting? What do you hope to accomplish through your potential findings?

My primary research task is fabricating nanostructured surfaces with different geometrical features and sizes, characterizing the surfaces, then integrating them in microfluidic devices for the conversion of mechanical energy into electric power. This involves controlling charge separation processes and surface wetting behavior. My research objective is learning how to design the nanostructured surface in order to control electrokinetic phenomena and demonstrate the feasibility of producing and storing energy with high efficiency by using micro/nanofluidic devices with the designed nanostructured surfaces.   

What interested you in researching nanofabrication of nanostructured surfaces?

During my graduate study (MSc), I learned about surface structures with nanoscale dimensions (a billionth of a meter) and how spectacular new properties of materials with such small features were. As a mechanical engineer, I was looking for the opportunity to combine my knowledge in fluids and transport processes with the nanofabrication methods needed to develop novel thermos-fluid and micro/nanofluidic systems.

Can you talk about your experience at Brookhaven National Lab (BNL)?

It feels great to conduct part of my research at BNL, who gives us access to state-of-the-art nanofabrication facilities. BNL also provides us with technical and scientific advice from their staff, which aids us with advancing our research goals. A collaborative environment at BNL also helps us share our knowledge and achieve complex research objectives. Although I primarily work at BNL to fabricate nanostructured surfaces using block copolymer self-assembly processes, I have learned a variety of extremely advanced techniques that will allow me to work on nanotechnology in the future.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your field of study? aktar 2

The most rewarding aspect in my field is when I get to observe the fruits of my work on a well-designed experimental setup after many laboring hours of experimentation. Furthermore, it’s a delight on its own to be able to view the completed nanostructures underneath the microscope. Unexpected but rewarding results tend to appear several times during the process of analyzing data, which are both celebrative and satisfactory moments. 

What is one piece of advice that you'd like to share with prospective graduate students?

Plan ahead and act accordingly. Try to learn a new set of skills every time you pick up a project and keep yourself up to date with the latest research literature in the field. Critical thinking helps me find clues that can solve many research problems, so sometimes it is better to think deeply rather than relentlessly spend time on the same research route. Embrace your failures because they will eventually assist you when you lay down the foundations of your success.

How do you spend your time when you’re not working?

I love traveling across the United States to explore the lush landscapes, beautiful architecture, and vibrant cultures that exist across this country. Even Long Island has so many serene places that help to reboot my mind for another fresh start to research. I also like to spend my free time chatting with my friends about a multitude of topics ranging from economics and human civilization, to the social life of my fellow Long Islanders. Due to the vibrant and diverse community present at Stony Brook University, I can celebrate local festivals like Independence Day or Thanksgiving, as well as those from my culture, such as Eid and Pohela Boishakh (Bengali New Year) during the holidays.