Summer School for Silicon Nanotechnology

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

The Summer School for Silicon Nanotechnolgy (SSSiN) is run by Prof. Michael Sailor in the Silicon Nanomaterials Research Laboratory

Program Dates: June 26-August 18, 2023. Currently this is planned to be an in-person activity, subject to the University's COVID-19 guidelines.

Application Deadlines: May 1, 2023 (for domestic applicants and for students enrolled in an affiliated UC San Diego graduate degree program). Feb 15, 2023 (for foreign applicants who will need a visa).

About the SSSiN:  The Summer School for Silicon Nanotechnology (SSSiN) is one of the three Research Immersion in Materials Science & Engineering (RIMSE) programs of the UC San Diego MRSEC. Begun in 2003, the SSSiN is an immersive workshop focussed on the synthesis, properties, and applications of silicon-based nanomaterials. 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. As part of the RIMSE training program, it also serves as a "bootcamp" for selected students at the beginning of their MS or PhD degrees and for MRSEC REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) participants. 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.

Trainee Eleanor Stewart-Jones

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.

Mentor Gha Lee (center) with her trainees Hithaishi Paraselli (left) 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

Applications should use the MRSEC RIMSE application portal maintained by the National Science Foundation's Education and Training Application Program (ETAP). The link is:

Required Materials

In the application, select the "Research Immersion in Materials Science & Engineering (RIMSE) Summer Schools" program, and within that category, select the "Summer School for Silicon Nanotechnology." You are encouraged to correspond with Prof. Sailor directly at to establish a plan for your Discovery Project, listing "application for Summer School for Silicon Nanotechnology" in the subject field. The application will request:

• Personal Statement
• CV/Resume
• Current Transcript (if applicable)
• Two Letters of Reference

The personal statement should include: your background with a description of past research or related experiences, if any; why you are interested in participating; a brief proposal or suggestion for a notional Discovery Project.
The letters of reference should be solicited from persons who can comment on your creativity, independence, and abilities. Incoming PhD or MS students who have been admitted to one of the allied programs (Materials Science and Engineering, Nanoengineering, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Bioengineering, Chemistry & Biochemistry, Physics, or Biology) do not need to supply letters of reference.

If you are an incoming (foreign or domestic) UC San Diego graduate student (MS or PhD), the SSSiN application deadline is the same as for domestic SSSiN applicants

Deadlines are given at the top of this page.


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 and in the Natural Sciences Building (NSB) on the UCSD campus (directions and visitor information are here). Tutorials are held every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9am - 11am, which involve lectures 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 (for foreign applicants) any applicable visa and visa processing fees. There is limited financial assistance available to various categories of participants. More information can be found at the website for the UC San Diego MRSEC RIMSE 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), by the EU COST action "Netpore", 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.

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

Chemistry & Biochemistry | Nanoengineering | Bioengineering | Physics | Materials Science & Engineering