Research seminar

Research seminar

May 2017 senior research

Aerospace.Nate Moore, Wind tunnel analysis of lift and drag. Nate compared the lift and drag forces on an airfoil, cone, and cylinder.
Applied physics.Tim Bristol, A capillary-action turbine. Capillary action occurs when a liquid such as water rises in a narrow tube, often made of glass, due to the adhesive force that exists between glass and water. Tim used the potential energy of the water in the tube to operate a microturbine.
Samantha Stinson, Multi-photo excitation in a plasma using a tunable-dye laser. Samantha used the tunable-dye laser to achieve multi-photon excitation of the plasma using a Langmuir probe. 
Alex White, Magnetic resonance. Alex found resonance frequencies of electrons, protons, and fluorine ions when placed in high-frequency pulsed magnetic fields. This technique is used in the medical diagnostic procedure called an MRI
Chemical physics.Thomas Haines, Bond energy of Teflon compounds using Raman spectroscopy. Tom exposed various Teflon compounds to laser light. The scattered light exhibited a Raman-frequency shift that the spectrometer interprets as chemical bond energy. Tom thanks Chemours, Inc., for providing his samples.
Dustin Kimble, Properties of biodegradable plastics. Dustin used Raman spectroscopy to measure the chemical bonds in composites of polylactic acid combined with other plastics. Polylactic acid is a thermoplastic material often used in three-dimensional printers. The WV Space Grant Consortium funded Dustin's research.

Civil.Cody Goode, Design, construction, and testing a concrete-arch bridge. Cody used fast-setting early-strength concrete reinforced with rebar. He tested the deflection of the middle of the bridge as a function of load.
Electrical.Kody Tucker, Resistivity of a semiconductor as a function p- and n-type doping. Kody doped silicon semiconductor samples with boron and antimony. The WV Space Grant Consortium funded Kody's research.
Environmental.Eleni Brick, Underwater tidal turbines. Eleni constructed an underwater turbine of optimal energy efficiency, measured the electrical power output, and determined its efficiency.

Wyatt Strickler, Ground-source heat pump. Wyatt used an air-conditioner to simulate a ground-source heat pump and measured coefficient of performance as a function of water temperature.

Geophysics.Ryan Holcomb, Viscosity of fracking fluid. Ryan measured the visocity of various fracking fluids by using the falling-sphere method from measurements of the terminal velocity of a sphere falling through the fluids.
Caleb Riffle, Thermal conductivity of rock. Caleb measured the thermal conductivity of a variety of rocks by using a layer of the rock to separate a region containing hot water from a region maintained at 30 degrees Celsius. Caleb graphed the logarithm of the hot-water temperature as it cooled. Caleb used the slope of the graph to calculate the thermal conductivity.
Landon Todd, Human-induced earthquakes. Landon simulated a geophysical fault by obliquely cutting a block of wood. He inserted sandpaper in the simulated fault and used our tensile-testing machine to perform a compression test until slipping occurred..
Cody Turner, The study of seismic waves with geophones. Cody used geophones to determine the velocity of seismic waves and computer enhancements to detect refraction and reflections of the waves as they encountered underground obstacles

Brian CappelliniAlternate-fuel lawnmower. Brian modified a lawnmower engine to use propane instead of gasoline. He determined the thermodynamic efficiency as a function of air-to-fuel ratio and compared to the efficiency using gasoline. 
Pedro Martins-FilhoA kinetic-energy-recovery system for a bicycle. A kinetic-energy-recovery system converts kinetic energy lost during braking into another energy form that can be recovered to be used later. Pedro's system stored the energy by causing a flywheel to spin.

Mechanical.Jeremy Marsh, Chaos in Taylor-Couette fluid flow. Taylor-Couette fluid flow is chaotic motion observed in a viscous fluid that placed between two co-axial cylinders that rotate in opposite directions. In the photo (above, left), note the turbulence inside the cylinder.
Paula PimentaFoucault pendulum. Paula built a Foucault pendulum, which provided early evidence of Earth's rotation. At Earth's north pole, the plane of the pendulum bob's oscillations should rotate once per 24 hours.

Nate ReynoldsTurbo-jet heat engine. Nate designed and built his engine and measured its thrust using propane fuel. 

Mark Schiffour, Heat flow through an aluminum rod with a temperature gradient. M
ark put one end of the rod in hot water and the other end in ice water. He measured the temperature at various locations along the cylinder using thermocouples and a tiny computer system called a Raspberry Pi
Medical physics.Kimmy Culver, The effect of proton-producing reactions on living cells. Approximately 50% of cancer patients receive radiotherapy using either photons or protons. Proton therapy has the advantage that the depth of the dose can be precisely controlled, which spares healthy tissue. Kimmy measured the effect of proton beam intensity on mortality of yeast cells.
Nuclear physics.Cullen Hoone, Transmutation of lithium-7 by high-speed protons. Cullen used our linear accelerator to create high-speed protons, which collided with a target made of lithium-7. The resulting nuclear reaction produced beryllium-8, which fissioned to produce two alpha particles and heat.
Devin Keenan, Excited-state lifetimes of cobalt-57. Cobalt-57 is a radioisotope that decays by gamma emission by several possible decay paths. Devin used a scintillation detector to measure the lifetime of each decay path.
Emma Rickels, Lock-in amplifier nuclear detection
. The purpose of the lock-in amplifier is to enable the researcher to eliminate background noise and focus only on the signal from the radioisotope.

Tim Stephens, Quadrupole mass spectrometry of krypton. Tim used our new ExTorr system and Pfeiffer vacuum pump to make precise measurements of the relative abundances of krypton's seven stable isotopes.


May 2016 senior research

Electrical.Corey Rhodes, A solid-state Tesla coil. The Tesla coil is a type of resonant transformer that was first developed by Nikola Tesla in the late 1800s. My project focuses on the solid-state variant, which uses transistors instead of a spark gap. Solid-state coils are quieter, more efficient, and enable precise control of the coil's operation. The goal was to design a solid-state Tesla coil with a power of at least 1000 watts. A coil meeting these requirements was designed and constructed, with an output voltage of 400,000 voltage and a maximum power of 1200 watts.
Medical physics. Lauren Cronise,  Nuclear magnetic resonance analysis of organic compounds. NMR is a laboratory technique that can determine physical and chemical properties of molecules. This technology is used in modern medicine to create internal images of a patient (magnetic resonance imaging). I analyzed organic molecules containing hydrogen, including sucrose, acetaminophen, and aspirin using a pulsed NMR at 21 megahertz and 90 megahertz.

Aerospace engineering. Andrew Cvetnick,  Performance of propeller blades in wind generators.  The purpose of my research was to determine the propeller design that delivers maximum efficiency for generating electricity by a wind turbine. For this application, horizontal-axis propellers generally are better than vertical-axis propellers. I measured the efficiency of several commercial systems from Horizon, and determined that the BP-28 system was best. The Autodesk Fusion 360 3-dimensional-design software produced several modifications to the BP-28. The new designs were 3-D printed using low-brittleness polylactic-acid polymer. I performed tests at a variety of pitch angles, and I repeated the tests after I drilled dimples in the blades.    
Plasmaphysics.  Matt Phares,  Magnetic dipole plasma discharge. The four states of matter are solids, liquids, gases, and plasmas. The plasma state is so hot that electrons are able to escape from the atoms. The result is a collection of positively charged ions and negatively charge electrons. If a magnetic rod is placed in the plasma, the ions will encircle the rod (see photo). The auroras on Earth are formed by the interaction of the solar wind plasma with Earth's magnetic field. The objectives of my project were to compare the spectral lines of neutral argon gas to those of an argon plasma, and to use Doppler theory to determine the velocity of the ions.

Mechanical engineering. Cody O'Meara,  Powering cell phones by harvesting energy from walking. My project involved designing and building a device that converts the mechanical energy from walking into electrical energy that can power portable electronic devices such as cell phones. My design consists of a small coil of wire wrapped around a tube. The device is fastened to a person's arms. When the person swings her arms, a magnet travels back and forth inside the tube. This back-and-forth motion generates electrical current in accordance with Faraday's law. My device provided up to 2.4 watts of power, a value that depends on how fast the person swings her arms.
Civil engineering. Andrew Fernandes,  Earthquake-resistant building design.  Two methods of designing earthquake-resistant buildings are (1) energy-dissipation devices and (2) base isolation. In my study, the two methods are compared by placing the designs on a device called a shake table. Two examples of a base-isolation system are the lead-rubber bearing and the spherical-isolation device. An example of an energy-dissipation device is the seismic damper, which consists of pistons containing viscous fluid. The spherical-isolation device involves placing spherical bearings under all the building's support columns. Accelerometers were used to compare the effectiveness of the two devices.

Geophysics. Evan Gorman,  A study of near-surface anisotropy using electrical resistivity.  Anisotropic rock structures exhibit properties with different values when measured in different directions. Bedrock jointing comes with a preferred orientation that results in an anisotropic distribution of electrical resistivity. Therefore, electrical resistivity provides a non-invasive and cost-effective method of investigating anisotropies of the subsurface. (See photo below, on left.) Financial assistance for this project was provided by Hillstone Environmental Protection and Baylor University.

Civil engineering. Amelia Riley,  Testing high-performance concretes. High-performance concretes are created for situations requiring characteristics in addition to strength. Special ingredients give these concretes unique traits such as flowability and environmental safety. My investigation determined to what degree the special ingredients affected the compressive strength. (See photo above, on right.)
Chemical engineering. Nick Jones,  An efficiency analysis of a photovoltaic–hydrogen system.
 A photovoltaic-hydrogen system has two major advantages: (1) a photovoltaic is a renewable energy source, and (2) the hydrogen fuel cell enables the energy to be stored when the Sun is not shining. The system uses electrical energy from the photovoltaic to perform electrolysis of water, which converts the water into hydrogen and oxygen gases. The hydrogen is stored until needed. At that time, it is fed into a fuel cell to generate electricity. My project measured the efficiency of a proton-exchange-membrane fuel cell that powered an electric model car.

Mechanical engineering. Pavle Milicevic, A solar panel that follows the Sun.
 My project focused on optimizing a photovoltaic's electrical energy production by developing an intelligent Sun-tracking system. The sunlight's optimal angle of incidence is 90°. The photovoltaic is attached to a turntable driven by a stepper motor that requires 24 hours per rotation. The axis of rotation points toward the North Star. The stepper motor was controlled by an H-bridge integrated circuit and an Arduino system.

Atomic physics. Aaron Weaver,  Spectroscopy of rubidium and cesium. These elements lie in the first column of the Periodic Table. Such elements are collectively referred to as alkali metals. The alkali metals have one electron in their outermost shell, which produces easy-to-study spectral-line doublets. Spectral lines are specific frequencies of light emitted as the atom's electrons transfer from one energy level to another. Doublets are pairs of spectral lines caused by the spin and orbital state of the electrons. Further measurements involved hyperfine splitting, which is caused by the angular momentum of the nucleus. My project used vapor cells and tunable diode lasers to study both absorption and fluorescence spectroscopy. The NASA-WV Space Grant Consortium provided financial support of my project.     
Geophysics.Ryder Bolin,  The seismic thumper. Seismometry is a method of determining what resource materials lie below Earth's surface. Rather than relying on natural earthquakes to produce seismic waves, machinery can be used to produce seismic waves on demand. My research involved designing and building a thumper device to create the seismic waves and then reading the results using geophones. The thumper unleashed more than 10,000 pounds of force downward onto a steel plate placed on the ground. The NASA-WV Space Grant Consortium provided financial support for my project. (See photo at right.)
Mechanical engineering.Casey  Sanders,  Underwater ocean turbines. Underwater turbines can be an excellent source of renewable energy. The Gorlov helical cross-flow turbine is a good option for optimizing performance in low-speed currents. My project involved constructing and modifying a Gorlov turbine and measuring efficiency as a function of water speed.
Mechanical engineering.Michael Walters,  Electromagnetic motors. My project focused on the motors used in household appliances. A motor is a device that produces motion from electrical energy. Some motors operate on DC and others operate on AC. Motors create motion due to the interaction of a permanent magnet and an electromagnet. For AC motors, there are two subcategories: one-phase motors and three-phase motors. Three-phase motors are self-starting, but one-phase motors require a special start-circuit to start the motor. My project compared the efficiency of several start-circuit designs.
Biomedical engineering. Paige Rutter,  An above-the-elbow prosthetic device. When dealing with an above-the-elbow amputation, prosthetic design is challenged by the additional joint at the elbow. My project consisted of four parts: (1) creating a design, (2) printing the design on a 3-D printer, (3) installing the servo-motors and Myware muscle sensors, and (4) programming the Arduino. (See photo below.)

May 2015 senior research
Electrical.EricKramer,  Implementing a CubeSat communication system. A CubeSat is a small payload designed to be launched from a sounding rocket from NASA-Wallops Island. I designed circuitry to enable the payload to send data by radio signal to a receiver on the ground. The radio signal consisted of a modulated carrier wave that was transmitted from an omnidirectional antenna. (See photo at left.)
Environmental.Aitor Reparaz,  Doped cadmium-telluride solar cells.
My project studied the energy efficiency of a thin-layer CdTe solar cell doped with NgCl2. I deposited a 100-nm-thick layer of CdTe on a glass plate coated with tin oxide heated to 550°C. Then I deposited a CdTe layer at 605°C, which I followed with a 40-minute anneal. I placed the solar cell in sunlight and measured the output voltage and current.
Aerospace.Andrew Tiffin,  Space flight design challenge.
My objective was to construct the payload of a picosatellite, which is to be launched from a sounding rocket at NASA-Wallops Island. When the payload reaches outer space, it is designed to measure Earth's magnetic field, radiation levels, and greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere below. The payload included a memory card and a three-axis gyroscope to keep it pointed in the correct direction. Two test runs were performed, one with a tethered balloon and one with an untethered balloon. (See photo below on left.)

Electrical.Colby Stanley,  Non-contact heart rate monitoring using laser Doppler vibrometryNon-contact heart rate monitoring is useful for burn victims, biologically contaminated patients, and lie detection. I used a Nd:YAG laser, interferometer, photodetector, beam splitter, Bragg cell, and oscilloscope. In my project, a laser Doppler vibrometer measured optical interference in the beam splitter. A beat frequency was generated by the motion of the subject relative to the Bragg cell. The beat frequency gave information on heart rate. (See photo above, on right.)
Environmental.Stephen McCallum,  Peltier effect. 
The Peltier effect is a method of converting heat directly to voltage. A Peltier device contains a junction consisting of two different conductors in contact. I built one Peltier device using iron nails in contact with copper wire and another Peltier device using a graphite rod in contact with aluminum wire. I subjected each Peltier device to a range of temperature gradients and compared the voltages produced. (See photo at right.)
Geothermal.Matt Stadelman,  Correcting a one-dimensional flow model for multidimensional flows.  
One-dimensional finite-difference models have the advantages of simplicity and computational speed. However, these models give considerable error when they are used to model through multidimensional flow through shale rock. This situation can be remedied by applying a transmissionability correction to the one-dimensional model. My research involved an analysis of the accuracy of various transmissionability corrections.
Mechanical.Will George,  Electromagnetic suspension using Halbach arrays.  
Electromagnetic suspension technology utilizes a magnetic field to levitate vehicles. I arranged five NdFeB cube magnets in a Halbach array on a model vehicle. Two 10-cm-long strings held the vehicles 5 mm away from a circular stainless-steel track of 10-cm diameter. Around the track, I wrapped 120 individually soldered, insulated loops of copper wire. As the vehicle's speed increased, its distance from the track also increased. (See photo below on left.) 

Mechanical.Correll Mack,  Thrust of a pulsejet engine.  My research analyzed the thrust generated by a Hobby-King pulsejet engine. The air-fuel mixture is the most critical consideration when making reliable thrust measurements. (See photo above on right.)
Materials science.Taylor Price,  Atomic crystal structure using Raman spectroscopy.  
Raman spectroscopy involves observing what happens when light is incldent on a material. Some of the light is reflected, some is transmitted, and some is scattered. The results give information on the material's molecular structure. My objective was to use our new high-resolution Stellar-Net Raman spectrometer to determine the molecular structure of various polymers.(See photo below on left.)

Mechanical.Brandon Purkey,  The thermodynamic efficiency of various nozzle designs in a jet turbine engine.  I rebuilt a model of a jet turbine engine using a car turbocharger similar to a jet turbine engine. I modified the combustion chamber and the flame tube to match the inducer, and added a pressure gauge. I used a variety of nozzle designs to determine the relation of efficiency to air-to-fuel ratio. (See photo above on right.)
Environmental.Desmond Sivels,  Solar-panel refrigeration using supercapacitors.  The supercapacitor is new technology that can potentially enable major advances in enrgy storage. Supercapacitors are designed with larger surface areas and thinner dielectrics than regular capacitors. For storing electrical energy, supercapacitors even have some advantages over rechargeable batteries. My project compares the advantages of the two methods in a solar-panel refrigeration system. (See photo on left.)   
Environmental.Joel Izquierdo,  Solar-powered house.  
Considerations include solar-panel efficiency and cost, maintenance, house design (size, insulation, and window locations), latitude, climate (sunshine and temparature), interest rates, and the price of electricity.  
Mechanical.Matt Spicer,  Piezoelectric vibrational energy harvesting from a speaker.  
Piezoelectric transducers are a promising method of harvesting vibrational energy. My work investigated the potential of a prototype lead-zirconate crystal in a cantilever beam system. (See photo below, left.)

Medical physics.Josh Carter,  Proton beam therapy.  Proton beam therapy is a relatively new treatment procedure that shows significant potential for external-beam radiation therapy. My primary goal was to use our new SpecTech spectrum analyzer to demonstrate the characteristic Bragg peak of protons through matter using Rutherford's methods. I was able to observe alpha absorption using aluminum but was not able to find the Bragg peak due to low count rates and difficulties with calibration. (See photo above on right.) 
Geophysics.Tommie Brunswick,  Accelerometers and geophones.  
Accelerometers are electromagnetic devices that can measure acceleration in the x, y, and z directions. I used our new Gisco geophones to convert ground vibrations into a voltage signal. I used a sledgehammer to create vibrations in the ground. I obtained wave patterns that gave information on wave velocity, vibration direction, and underground rock structure. (See photo below on left.)

Geophysics.Emily Biggs,  Hydrocarbon separation using quadrupole mass spectrometry.  A mass spectrometer can be used to determine the relative abundances of components in a mixture of gases. I used our new Extorr mass spectrometer and Pfeiffer turbo vacuum pump to determine the relative abundances of the components in natural gas. My results indicated mainly methane, but with an unexpected amount of air and water vapor, which indicates a need to check the vacuum system for leaks. (See photo above, right.) 
Geophysics.Mark Mattis,  Geothermal energy production through radioactive decay.  Geothermal energy can be generated by radioactive decay of underground minerals such as uranium and thorium. I created a model of such a system using a known mass of americium in a known mass of water. I measured the water temperature as a function of time to determine the power generated. I performed the process in a well insulated container, but nevertheless needed to correct for thermal conduction through the walls of the container. (See photo below.) 

May 2014 senior research
Andrew Ferguson designed a procedure for digital holography, an electronic method to make three-dimensional photography using lasers.
Jacob Poldruhi designed a system to generate power on a spacecraft using organic waste.
Dillon Huffman designed a cost-effective prosthetic arm using an Arduino microprocessor.
Quinn Gray created an electronic speech synthesizer using Fourier transform circuitry.
Lucas Greza designed a variety of wings to determine how to minimize drag.
David Rhodes designed a jet turbine engine for maximum efficiency.
Russell Gillespie designed an electronic feedback system to stabilize a hovercraft.
Eddie Hasis studied methods to maximize efficiency of a hybrid engine.
Conor Forrester developed an electrochemical method to convert graphite into graphene.
Andrew Knotts designed an ion thruster with maximum efficiency.

May 2013 senior research
Derek·Johnson  designed a system to use footfall energy from walking to create electrical energy (see photo at left).
Jacob Wilson studied chromosome damage using high-energy radiation from cesium-137.
Casey Defibaugh studied the efficiency of generating electricity from solar panels.
Matt Edwards studied the lethality of rubber bullets of various designs.
Thomas Holtschneider studied the effectiveness of boron neutron capture therapy in treating cancer.
Tom Bartleman designed a system to efficiently convert waves in a body of water into electrical energy. (See photo below.)

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