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2003 SPS National Interns
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Jeff Klenzing Jeff Klenzing
University of Texas at Dallas, TX

Internship: National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST)
Online Journal
Week of August 1, 2006 Week of July 11, 2006 Week of June 20, 2006
Week of July 25, 2006 Week of July 4, 2006 Week of June 13, 2006
Week of July 18, 2006 Week of June 27, 2006  
Date: August 1, 2003

Week Eight

My final full week at work was spent racing to finish my measurements and beginning the documentation of my work in a simple format so that the measurements can continue after I leave next week. My sightseeing plans began to decrease in proportion to the delays seen in the measurements I had left to perform. Fortunately, I saw most of the things I had wanted to see at the beginning of the summer.

I've enjoyed my summer here in DC, and next week I plan to finish up my work here. This will involve taking the last few data points, backing up everything, and then preparing my Senior Thesis from the material.

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Date: July 25, 2003

Week Seven

This week went by much quicker than last. With my presentation behind me, I set out to begin wrapping up my project. My new goal is to finish characterizing the chips up to 12 Mrad gamma irradiation, and then take a few preliminary measurements on the breakdown characteristics. During the "down time" between measurements, I'm condensing my notes, contacts, and strategies into an easy-to-follow set of guidelines for other students to continue my work after the summer. Dr. Suehle has been gracious enough to allow me to continue on the project with the data analysis after I leave.

I'm still catching up on all of my sightseeing. I seem to be nearing the end of all three of my lists (work, sightseeing, and reading), though I've fallen behind in my self-study course in Ancient Greek (as a physics student, I already had the alphabet down, so I thought "Why not?"). Until next week. . .

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Date: July 18, 2003

Week Six/Mid-term Presentations

Over the weekend, I began catching up on my sightseeing. On Sunday, I toured the International Spy Museum. The best part of the museum was the Pigeon Room focusing on the use of pigeons to relay messages and take aerial photographs. Of course, I had to catch up on my reading in preparation for my upcoming presentation.

This week went by rather quickly in comparison to the previous weeks. In between the usual measurement-taking, I began preparing a PowerPoint presentation for the SPS meeting this Friday. After several practice presentations to the Semiconductor Division and my fellow interns, I made the necessary changes and forwarded the file to SPS. On Thursday, I gave another practice speech to Liz and Gary.

Friday came upon us quickly. Fortunately, my presentation was early in the morning, so I didn t have to worry about it for too long. My project mentor and several other scientists from NIST arrived to watch our speeches. I had a great time throughout the day.

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Date: July 11, 2003

Week Five

On Monday, Tony led us on a tour of NASA Goddard. The most exciting part of the tour was the monstrous centrifuge used to subject satellite prototypes to various "G-forces". (My freshman mechanics notes are now alerting me that the the centrifugal force is not a force at all, but my relativity notes remind me that neither is gravity, so I won't go into further detail.) The room in which it is housed has perfect acoustics, which, as all physics students must, we tested for a great deal of time. At the end, we stopped by the NASA gift shop, where I added another science necktie to my collection - this one of the solar system.

On Tuesday, it was work again as normal. When characterizing a new semiconductor material, one must be prepared to deal with surprises. This is both the joy and the bane of cutting-edge work. While you are paving the future path for others to work with these new devices, your own path is a rocky, twisting road filled with numerous delays that you did not initially see. This describes my last few weeks. While we have new a understanding of how the high-k dielectric functions as an electronic device, we are gaining ground on the proposed course of study much slower than we thought.

The main trouble is that the high-k material seems to be charging more readily than silicon dioxide, leading to unstable measurements. We had to rewrite the data-gathering routines to allow for this when measuring leakage current. Since the higher radiation dosages take several hours to a full day, we instituted a cylcic approach to irradiating the samples in order to save time. One set of chips is used to determine capacitance, leakage current, and conductivity. The other set is used for dielectric breakdown. This should allow us to complete the study in the allotted time, but one can never tell.

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Date: July 4, 2003

Week Four

My project is coming along slowly. This week we irradiated the samples (the first of six planned irradiations) in a gamma-ray supply. After taking the initial measurements, we tried to see if the data followed our expectations. As it turns out, the equipment is apparently introducing some errors into the data. We'll have to reprogram the instruments to allow the transients to settle down before recording the values.

I had Friday off for the Fourth of July. I took the opportunity to see the fireworks in our Nation's capitol from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I used the early portion of the afternoon to wander through the Vietnam and Korean War Mermorials. It seemed rather appropiate to spend some time thanking those who fought for freedom.

The scale of the fireworks was grander than any I had ever seen. From my perch in front of the reflecting pool, I could see the sky fill with an impressive display. When each pyrotechnic shower exploded in the sky, I could feel the shock waves a second after the brilliant display of light. It was an experience not to be forgotten.

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Date: June 27, 2003

Week Three

This last week has gone by rather slowly. Unable to book the radiation pool until the 30th, I began completing a set of preliminary measurements on the semiconductors. Justin and I also began preparing a tour of NIST for our fellow SPS interns.

On Thursday was the Semiconductor division annual picnic, which provided a nice break from a day of routine measurements. Rounding out the meals were games of volleyball and a good old-fashioned water balloon fight. I also ran into an alumni of my school (UT-Dallas). We swapped stories about professors and students we knew for a while. It was a welcome glimpse of home from unfamiliar territory.

Over the weekend, we toured the Smithsonian Museums. I was able to see most of Air & Space and a good deal of Natural History. On Sunday I returned for American History and wrapped up Air & Space (almost, another half-hour would have completed it, but they were closing). In between museums, I attended the Smithsonian Folklife fair, a celebration of the music and culture of Mali, Scotland, and Appalachia.

Before I left for DC, I was planning out everything I had to see. It's hard to believe that the time is nearly half-way over, and I still have hardly made a dent in my list. Hopefully, the next few weeks will be promising.

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Date: June 20, 2003

Week Two

After a week of playing with the equipment, the real work began. Looking through the data sets I collected the previous week, I began to see how the project would take shape. We can characterize the capacitance and current leakage properties of semiconductors by sweeping a set of measurements over a range of voltages. Once this is done, we then set a "stress voltage" on the chip to see how long it will last. This is the time-consuming portion of the project. I spent this last week optimizing my data-gathering routine (not programming, but in more of an ergonomic and time-management fashion). My mentor left town for a convention on Wednesday, so I had two days to collect as much data as possible in order to welcome him back with a nice set of graphs. This week I'll take the samples down to the radiation pool (which sounds like an interesting experience of itself)

Of course, this last week wasn't all work. I took the weekend off to visit my relatives in Pennsylvania, some of whom I haven't seen in five years. Having mastered the art of traveling the Metro in DC, I set out to transfer to the Amtrak to Philadelphia. This was my first experience riding the train system (at least in this country). After two days of swapping family stories (and discovering that my cousin Jimmy recently purchased a Segway), it was back to DC to finish my project.

On Wednesday night, AIP was kind enough to take the SPS interns out to dinner. We went to the American Grill at Union Station, which claims to feature something from every state (though none of us could locate Rhode Island for some reason). I've found cooking to be a bit of a challenge in may apartment, so this dinner was a well-appreciated break. Our group leader at NIST, Eric Vogel, also took Justin and I out to lunch last Friday.

Until next week. . .

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Date: June 13, 2003

First Week

My first walk down the streets of Washington, DC was awe-inspiring. The boarding-house scenes from The Day the Earth Stood Still began flashing through my head as I approached the apartments. My initial forays into the city were primarily for survival to acquire food, cleaning supplies, and other necessities for the next eight weeks, but they were invariably linked with a bit of sightseeing. The most fascinating thing about the city is that all the monuments and famous buildings so familiar from our spare change are surrounding you, and in doing so become even more a part of your everyday life.

The first week of work went by a lot faster than I expected. The measurements are fairly straightforward to make and quite understandable. After a brief review of solid-state principles and reading several background articles, I dove right into the work. Science is not something that you will understand right away. I found that after making some preliminary measurements, returning to the background material was quite helpful. Science is not always quick, either. The measurements routines I'm using take between 30 seconds and 13 hours to run. However, by the end of the week, I had a nice little chunk of data to begin analyzing on my computer, and several graphs as well.

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