MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE, Mass. -- Promising research on superconducting materials, near infra-red spectroscopy, and nanotechnology has earned three faculty at Tufts University's School of Engineering early career awards from the National Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Energy. The awards are among the most prestigious honors given by the U.S. government to outstanding scientists and engineers at the early stages of their careers, when many do their most formative work.
Efforts to make superconducting materials more durable have earned Tufts University Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Luisa Chiesa a five-year grant for $750,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy's new Early Career Research Program.
Chiesa's goal is to pursue research and education in superconducting materials and magnet systems for large fusion energy reactors in order to understand their electro-mechanical behavior under low and high temperature conditions.
In fusion, the magnet creates a powerful magnetic field that is essential for containing and forming the very high-temperature plasma. To do this, the magnet and cables used to produce the magnetic field must be cold. "To contain very high temperature plasma that's millions of degrees, you can use powerful magnets made of materials that can only operate if they are really cold," says Chiesa.
Magnets and cables are made of expensive metal compounds. While the process is successful in generating a large magnetic field to confine the plasma from which we will extract energy, it also causes the magnets and cables to degrade. Chiesa will study the mechanical behaviors of superconducting materials to determine how they might be designed to work more efficiently without degradation.
An NSF early career grant was awarded to Valencia Joyner, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, for her research into time-resolved near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS). The $541,000 g
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