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10-14-2016

Clarkson University Profs Earn NSF Grant for Plasma-Liquid Interface Research

Researchers at Clarkson University have received a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant for their research on electrical plasmas.

From left to right, Assistant Professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Eunsu Paek, Associate Professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Selma Mededovic Thagard, and Associate Professor of Mechanical & Aeronautical Engineering Douglas Bohl received a National Science Foundation grant for their research on electrical plasmas.Associate Professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Selma Mededovic Thagard, Associate Professor of Mechanical & Aeronautical Engineering Douglas Bohl and Assistant Professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Eunsu Paek earned the grant in September.

The collaborative project, "Interdisciplinary Study of Chemical and Transport Processes at a Plasma-Liquid Interface," focuses on improving the understanding of the fundamental processes that occur at or near interfaces of a plasma, a cloud of ionized gas composed of electrons, ions and neutral particles, and a liquid.

A plasma created above or within a liquid can have several uses. For example, plasma discharges have been used to sterilize water, fruit juices and milk, to remove harmful chemicals from water, to create new materials, and for medical applications. Some cancer-causing pollutants found in the environment can only be treated using plasmas.

In materials processing technologies, plasmas formed directly in liquids that do not contain water -- such as alcohols -- can transform these liquids into different useful products, including carbon nanotubes, a material with unique properties used in a wide variety of electronics.

A better understanding of the physical and chemical processes near the plasma-liquid interface will not only help to improve the existing plasma-based processes, Thagard says, but also will open new applications in biomedicine, agriculture, energy, green chemistry and pollutant mitigation.

The region near the plasma-liquid interface exhibits complex dynamics that depend on the formation of reactive radicals, ions and high energy electrons, their transport across the interface, and the physics of the bulk fluid motion for mixing and transport. These processes are interrelated and incorporate both physical and chemical dynamics.

The overall goal of the team’s research is to determine relationships between the physical and chemical processes occurring at the plasma-liquid interface in a system where the plasma discharge contacts the liquid surface. The study aims to correlate the bulk liquid transport processes with the plasma-liquid interface dynamics and determine the significance of the plasma excited species transport in the kinetics of interfacial processes.

To achieve this, researchers will use their complimentary technical expertise to identify degradation mechanisms of several compounds of interest and apply quantitative optical diagnostic tools -- such as Particle Image Velocimetry and Laser-Induced Fluorescence -- to understand the physics at the interface as well as the role bulk liquid transport plays in the dynamics of the degradation process.

Learn more about the research at https://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1617822 .

Clarkson University educates the leaders of the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as an owner, CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. With its main campus located in Potsdam, N.Y., and additional graduate program and research facilities in the Capital Region and Beacon, New York, Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university with signature areas of academic excellence and research directed toward the world's pressing issues. Through more than 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, education, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: From left to right, Assistant Professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Eunsu Paek, Associate Professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Selma Mededovic Thagard, and Associate Professor of Mechanical & Aeronautical Engineering Douglas Bohl received a National Science Foundation grant for their research on electrical plasmas.

[Photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/nsf-plasma.png ]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or aharrison@clarkson.edu.]

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