Summer School for Silicon Nanotechnology

a Research Immersion in Materials Science & Engineering (RIMES) program
of the UC San Diego MRSEC, a National Science Foundation Materials Research Science and Engineering Center

Program Dates: Access to the labs is restricted due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. University guidelines currently restrict research and teaching activities. The current plan for phased research scale-up on the UC San Diego campus is to move from Red to Orange mode on 1 June 2020. The SSSiN will be able to operate on a limited fashion when the campus moves to the Yellow phase. It is not clear when this will occur, but we are tentatively planning for 3 August - 18 September, 2020 (subject to change).

Application Deadlines: Closed for 2020. The 2021 deadlines are May 1, 2021 (for domestic applicants and for students enrolled in an affiliated UC San Diego graduate degree program). Feb 15, 2021 (for foreign applicants who will need a visa).

About the SSSiN: Begun in 2003, the Summer School for Silicon Nanotechnology (SSSiN) is an immersive six week workshop on the synthesis, properties, and applications of silicon-based nanomaterials. Affiliated with the Silicon Nanomaterials Research Laboratory run by Prof. Michael Sailor, It is a unique course in that it integrates participants from a wide variety of backgrounds and skill levels: high school students, undergraduates, graduate students, post-docs, industry researchers, and university professors. It also serves as a "bootcamp" for selected students at the beginning of their MS or PhD degrees. Course elements include lectures, hands-on laboratory training, and a capstone “Discovery Project”- an independent research project implemented by a team of trainees under the mentorship of a current research group member.



Lectures are held every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9-11 AM. Topics include: • Introduction to porous silicon—background and overview • Semiconductor fundamentals • Etching and electrochemistry of silicon • Photoluminescent Si "Quantum Dots" • Passive optical nanostructures—photonic crystals, optical diffraction, Fabry-Perot layers and multilayers • Characterization including porosity measurements, optics, FTIR, SEM, BET, Contact Angle • Freestanding porous silicon microparticles, nanoparticles, nanowires • Chemistry of silicon nanostructures • Biomaterials and medical applications of silicon nanostructures, including targeted drug delivery and in vivo systems • Metal and polymeric composites with porous silicon • Energy related materials including Li-ion anodes and thermoelectrics • Optical biosensing, chemical sensing.

Luo Gu

Hands-on laboratory training sessions are held each weekday, after the lectures. Researchers are trained in preparation and characterization methods and relevant to silicon nanomatierials: • electrochemical anodization to prepare porous silicon • stain etching • preparation of photonic crystals • surface chemical modification under anaerobic conditions • thermal processing • optical reflectance spectroscopy (RIFTS, SLIM) • photoluminescence spectroscopy • Raman spectroscopy • infrared spectrodcopy • porosimetry (surface area, pore size, porosity measurement) • scanning electron microscopy • contact angle measurement.

High School mentor Gha Lee (center) with fellow high school students Hithaishi Paraselli and Tessa Martin (right)

The “Discovery Project,” is an independent research project implemented by a team of 2-4 students under the mentorship of a current research group member. The research topics of the Discovery Projects harmonize with ongoing research projects in the Sailor Research Group. Many SSSiN students arrange to stay longer (up to 12 months) to complete a more extensive project, with the goal of initiating a longer-term collaboration, completing a thesis chapter, or producing a scientific publication. Many high school participants have translated their projects into California Science Fair, Lego Robotics Challenge, or Intel/Regeneron Science Talent Search competitions.


Heidi Leonard

Required Materials

A current resume, personal statement including description of past research or related experiences, and a brief (1-2 page) proposal for a notional Discovery Project should be sent to, listing "application for Summer School for Silicon Nanotechnology" in the subject field. In addition, up to 3 letters of reference supporting the application should be solicited from persons who can comment on the candidate's relevant experience, creativity, independence, and abilities. These letters should come directly from the recommender and sent to

Applications are considered on a rolling basis. Deadlines are given at the top of this page. If you are an incoming (foreign or domestic) UC San Diego graduate student, application deadline is the same as for domestic applicants.


This is a full immersion program. The course runs weekdays from 9 am to 4 pm although there may be a few later days depending on individual projects. It is held in Pacific Hall on the UCSD campus (directions and visitor information are here). Tutorials are held every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9am - 11am, which involve lecture, in-lab demonstrations, and student presentations. The remainder of the time is spent in the laboratory working on the course experimental modules and the Discovery Projects.

Each participant must supply:

  • Daily lunch (or lunch money if you want to eat at one of the UCSD eateries).
  • Lab notebook (bound, numbered, lined sheets).
  • Laptop computer (Mac or PC). Must contain current virus protection software.
  • UCSD ID and email account
    If you don't have a UCSD ID or email account, please arrange to come in before the beginning of the SSSiN to set up your account.

Financial Support

There is no charge for participation in this program. However all participants must have their own support for travel, living expenses, health insurance, and any applicable visa fees (the university charges a $425 visa processing fee). There is no financial assistance available for participation in this program.


This program is sponsored in part by the UC San Diego Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (UCSD MRSEC), which is supported by the National Science Foundation Grant DMR-2011924, by the UC San Diego Institute for Materials Discovery & Design (IMDD), by the EU RISE program "Nano-OligoMed" (project GA n°778133), and by generous donations from private individuals. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation, the University of California, or the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

RIMES Summer Schools are coordinated with the following UC San Diego MS and PhD programs: