Kevin Pardinas, 2016, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

I performed research this summer on the properties of microdischarges in carbon dioxide gas, a field that has numerous real-world applications including carbon dioxide mitigation, carbon material synthesis, and reforming of methane to produce synthesis gas, a valuable resource. A microhollow cathode design was utilized to confine the microplasma, and the surface deposition upon a nickel substrate was investigated. Electrical and optical properties of the microplasma were analyzed, with the hope of learning more about the microdischarge system. If implemented in the exhaust of a fossil fuel power station or an automobile, a microplasma system has the capacity to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere through the decomposition of carbon dioxide. I was specifically involved in the assembly of the microdischarge system and the experimental analysis. The primary objectives of this project were achieved; our spectroscopy data confirmed that carbon dioxide was decomposed, a promising result for the environmental applications of my research. I had a fantastic experience working in a first-class, professional research laboratory, and learning about the excitement of success in academic research and the great lessons learned from failures. This summer’s work has encouraged me to continue working with microplasmas as part of my senior thesis.