These brief summaries are
drawn from several sources and are issued throughout the year.
Fusor Team wins CPS Plasma Excellence Award at Intel ISEF
Phoenix, AZ - "It's not getting any easier," CPS Chair Lee Berry acknowledges with a smile. Berry, who has helped to select and present the CPS Award for Excellence in Plasma Physics at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair since 2005, noted that there are now more eligible projects with increased plasmarelated content, and that the quality of the work continues to set new standards. This year three students from Washington state won the admiration of the CPS judges, earning the Plasma Excellence prize of $1500 for their research on a table-top fusion device.
Winners Jake Hecla (Aviation High School, Des Moines), Raymond Maung (Kentwood Senior High School, Covington) and Rian Chandra (Capital High School, Olympia) all belong to the Northwest Nuclear Consortium, a small group of students with a passion for nuclear physics. Hosted by Microsoft IT Program Manager Carl Greninger, the group built a Farnsworth type inertial electrostatic fusion reactor, or "fusor," in his garage in 2011. Hecla, Maung and Chandra decided to examine the reactor's neutron production to see if it is spherically symmetric with reference to the central focus, as expected.
Mounting neutron-sensitive plastic slides and bubble detectors around the fusor, the team discovered that neutron flux was higher at the front and rear of the device, lower on the sides and top. These findings would suggest that some neutrons may be produced outside the central plasma, challenging current assumptions about the way fusors work. Although the team has only begun this investigation, they plan future experiments to test new hypotheses. Besides receiving the CPS award, this team also received the Intel Physics and Astronomy 2nd Award of $1500.
Lee Berry and fellow judge Seth Dorfman, a Post- Doc at UCLA, selected fifteen candidates for the CPS award. One favorite project, from Matthew Ho of High Technology High School in Lincroft, NJ, explored the effect of coronal discharge on the force of drag against pinewood derby cars. Ho placed varying high voltage DC electric fields across features of the cars, placed them in a small wind tunnel, then measured the force of drag with the discharge turned on and off. He hypothesized that a high-voltage DC field would provoke a significant electromotive force on the air particles between the electrodes, reducing the observed drag. He concluded that the coronal discharge had a significant effect on the drag coefficient of an object, and that it could be used to modify the path of air over an object, consequently reducing drag.
A third project, presented by Aric Floyd of Hawken Upper School (Gates Mills, OH) used microplasmas, a unique class of atmospheric-pressure plasmas, to process nanomaterials. It is the first project to synthesize iron oxide nanoparticles using such a medium. The judges were impressed with his hard work and originality. Intel was also impressed, awarding him a Chemistry 4th Award of $500.
The other candidates, listed below, attest to the range and creativity of this year's plasma projects.
Predicting Earthquakes by Monitoring
the Electron Content of the Ionosphere:
Nicolas Marone, Aviv Rabinovich, Ort
Henri Ronson, Ashqeion, Israel.
Stoichiometric Laser-Induced Breakdown
Spectroscopy (LIBS) Analysis for
Simple and Cost Effective Production of
Optical Quality Ceramic Yttrium Aluminum
Garnet (YAG): Matthew Chun,
Jericho High School, Jericho, NY.
Farnsworth Fusor: Michal Racko, Jozef
Lettrich Secondary Grammar School,
Creating PEAS: Portable Elemental
Analysis System - Developing and Implementing
a Novel Cold Cathode Source:
Jennifer Csele, Notre Dame College
School, Welland, Ontario, Canada.
Ablation Resistance and Performance
of Metals in Magnetoplasmadynamic
Applications: Michael Sherburne, Andres
Artze, James W. Robinson Junior Secondary
School, Fairfax, VA.
Apparatus and Analysis Techniques for
Miniature Pulsed Plasma Sources: Adam
Bowman, Montgomery Bell Academy,
Problem Solving Chaos: Dominic Yurk,
Robert L. Paschal High School, Fort
Effects of an Outer Grid on Inertial Electrostatic Confinement Fusion: Jonathan Morrell, Fremont High School, Plain City, UT.
Solar Tsunami: A Study of the Correlation Between Coronal Mass Ejections and Extreme Ultraviolet Waves: Kayla Ishida, Waimea High School, Waimea, HI.
Sunspots: Solar Flare Prediction through Utilization of the Maunder Butterfly Pattern: Kelly Schmidt, Elko High School, Elko, NV.
Experimental Study of the Shape of Plasma Discharge in the Air: Michal Dorko, Sasa Havrillova, Gymnazium svateho Tomasa Akvinskeho, Kosice, Slovakia
Silicon Coating Deposition in Magnetron Discharge on Various Surfaces: Ilya Evseev, Sergei Kurochkin, State Educational Budge Institution Lyceum 1511 at National Research Nuclear University.
Each year more than 1,500 high school students from about 70 countries, regions, and territories display their independent research at the Intel ISEF. Photo/Lee Berry
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