Kevin Pardinas, 2016, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Fusion energy has the possibility to change the world; it can provide a clean, safe, and nearly limitless source of energy. I spent my summer at PPPL, one of the world’s leading research institutions in the field of fusion energy. At PPPL, I studied the secondary electron emission (SEE) properties of materials used in plasma reactions. I performed experiments in a high-vacuum chamber to quantify and analyze secondary electrons—electrons emitted from materials that are bombarded with other electrons. I worked on improving the setup and software needed to perform the measurements, allowing the results to become more reproducible and reliable. My research is crucial for many fusion energy applications, as the presence of secondary electrons can lead to adverse effects on plasma. My results can help improve the modeling of plasma systems and fusion devices, and will be important for continued research at PPPL on the ideal wall materials for Hall thrusters. This summer I learned a vast amount about fusion energy and the nature of scientific research. I immensely enjoyed my work. Being at PPPL fueled my interest in Hall thrusters; and I would like to research these propulsion devices for my independent work in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.