Prospective Students

Does our research interest you? Do you want to work on cutting-edge research in materials for cancer theraputics, imaging technologies, or fundamental magnetic investigations? We are always looking for excellent potential graduate and undergraduate students to work with our group!


If you are interested in joining our group as a graduate student, please send an email with your CV and area of interest to kannanmk [at] uw [.] edu


For interested undergraduates, listed below are current research opportunities in our group. Please email Dr. Krishnan at kannanmk [at] uw [.] edu or search the UW research portal for our posted openings.

Title: Solar cells using earth-abundant materials by chemical routes

Description: The Krishnan research group is currently investigating nano-sized inorganic solar cell materials and we are looking for an undergraduate interested in researching nanoparticle synthesis and subsequent thin film deposition and characterization for one aspect of our solar project. We would like to work with an undergraduate with a strong background in chemical synthesis and familiarization with inorganic materials. Through this project the student will learn essential techniques such as air-free Schlenk-line synthesis, optical and electronic characterization of materials, and general principles of solar energy conversion. A familiarity with photovoltaics is ideal, but not necessary for this research position. Ideally, the student would also have a light background in electronics (intro EE course), but again, is not necessary at the outset of this project. We expect this project to run for multiple quarters, and the student will initially work closely with the graduate student but may grow to more independent work. While we have a plan for the direction of the this research, we welcome creative input from the student and would like to give them the opportunity to develop strong research skills.

Requirements: Students with classroom or research experience in organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry and analytical chemistry will be given first consideration, but we welcome any applicant with some synthetic chemistry experience and a strong interest in nanomaterials and/or solar energy research. This research project requires at least a 10-hr/wk commitment and students will be accepted for either volunteer work or research credit.

Title: Developing biocompatible polymer coatings for iron oxide nanoparticles

Description: Iron oxide nanoparticles (IONPs) have a wide range of diagnostic and therapeutic applications in medicine; their safety and magnetic properties make them attractive for novel technologies such as magnetic particle imaging (MPI) 1,2 and magnetic fluid hyperthermia (MFH)3. In order to efficiently employ IONPs for biological applications, the physical performance must be balanced with biological compatibility, and often, the surface chemistry determines the in vivo fate of nanoparticles. IONPs must remain colloidally stable in complex biological environments, which consist of numerous serum proteins. Furthermore, IONPs injected in the blood stream often undergo ‘opsonization’ – an immune response that quickly eliminates foreign objects – which is detrimental to applications in targeted imaging and therapy. To improve biocompatibility, we employ poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG)-based polymer shells that impart “stealth-like” properties to IONPs. However, several challenges remain in designing shells that provide biocompatibility without sacrificing performance. In this project, you will develop numerous PEG-based polymer coatings that balance safety with excellent physical performance. The goals of this project are (1) synthesize PEG-polymers of various molecular weights and densities using a well-established method, (2) use gel permeation chromatography (GPC) to characterize and extract the best fractions for coatings, and (3) “PEG-ylate” IONPs and monitor the long-term colloidal stability in biological medium.


Requirements: Strong background in Chemistry or Biochemistry.
Students in Bioengineering may also qualify.

Title: Magnetic nanoparticle filtering systems

Description: The student will test a prototype magnetic filtering system with nanoparticles made in our labs. The student will design a series of experiments to determine how to control the system’s magnetic fields to separate larger nanoparticles from a mixture of sizes. During this project, the student will learn nanoparticle characterization techniques such as Dynamic Light Scattering and magnetic measurements. The student will also help the PI with any system design modifications that become necessary during the course of testing. These may include designing new linear field gradients, winding magnetic coils, and modifying the AC coil tuning circuits. Some basic machining may also be needed. The filtering system is part of our project in biomedical nanotechnology and will ultimately be used to purify iron oxide nanoparticle tracers for medical imaging. For an exceptionally deserving student, a small stipend may be available.


Requirements: Junior/Senior in Engineering (preferably Electrical or Bioengineering)or Physics, with good laboratory skills, ability to work regularly and committed to making progress in the project.

Title: Magnetic nanoparticles: novel synthesis and morphologies for biomedicine

Description: In my group we have numerous recipes for chemical synthesis of iron-oxide nanoparticles. We would like to explore three different projects:

a) the development of a continuous flow process, by adapting our existing methodology, for the reproducible synthesis of iron oxide particles of well-defined sizes. This will be a challenging senior project for a chemical engineering student.

b) the preparation of core-shell nanoparticle architecture. We will use the iron-oxide nanoparticles as the core and find a chemical route to coat them with a uniform gold shell. This project should be suitable for a chemistry/biochemistry major. For a truly motivated biochemistry or bioengineering major, we could then subsequently functionalize the gold surface with appropriate gold-binding peptides or other biomolecules.

c) we would like to explore methods to prepare chains of magnetic particles of well-defined lengths. This would be done by applying a magnetic field creat nanoparticle chains and then using appropriate polymers to hold them in place. This will be a challenging project for a chemistry, bioengineering or biochemistry major.


Requirements: Junior in Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Bioengineering or Biochemistry

Commitment to work at least 10 hours/week.

Motivation and ability to work independently and responsibly, paying particular attention to safety, will be an asset.

Title: Nanotechnology: Size-dependent magnetic separation of nanoscale particles

Description: One of the challenges in biomedical nantechnology using magnetic nanoparticles (5-25nm) is to separate them by size. This project will develop a process of magnetic separation by applying localized, high magnitude magnetic field gradients in combination with a/c magnetic fields. A simple microfluidic system may also be employed. Depending on student interest, background and motivation, the project can be flexibly tailored. The undergraduate student will work closely with a PhD student or a post-doc but will be mentored directly by Prof. Krishnan. Students with good laboratory skills, who are self-motivated and interested in graduate school may find this project interesting.

Expected commitment ~10hours/week of work.

Requirements: This could be a good project for a junior or senior in Physics or EE.

Title: Thin Film Deposition & Characterization

Description: There is an opportunity for undergraduates to participate in ongoing research on thin film deposition by sputtering, characterization by x-ray diffraction and measurements of various properties. Depending on student interest, motivation and ability to learn, the project can be tailored from learning experimental skills to preparing relevant films to undertaking publishable quality results. Typical duration of the project is 1 year but can be extended if there is mutual interest. The student will be trained and work closely under the supervision of a PhD student but will report directly to Prof. Krishnan. Benefits for the student includes the opportunity to work on state of the art instruments, on a cutting-edge research project and mentorship by Prof. Krishnan. The latter will be particularly helpful for students thinking of graduate school -- Undergraduate students mentored by Prof. Krishnan have gone on to be graduate students at MIT, Stanford etc. Estimated time ~10 hours per week.

Requirements: A minimum standing as a sophomore, majoring in any science or engineering department is required. Prior experience in a research laboratory will be an asset. Also, demonstrated ability to carry out hands-on work will be helpful.