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Senior’s thesis project makes material difference in quest for fusion energy

CBE Senior Meagan Yeh


Before engineers can build a reactor to produce electricity from fusion, they have to make the reactor’s walls able to withstand the heat and energetic particles from the reactions. It is a hellish environment and requires a very special material.

“It’s a very important, very difficult problem,” said Bruce Koel, a professor of chemical and biological engineering at Princeton.

Koel, who conducts research at the University and the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), has spent decades studying the surfaces of materials. Recently, he’s been investigating the materials science needed for fusion energy. Last year, he asked one of his undergraduate students — Meagan Yeh — to examine a new approach, and she undertook the effort as part of her senior thesis project.

The method involves working with a special type of the metal tungsten. Yeh, who is majoring in chemical and biological engineering, had spent the previous summer working at PPPL, a U.S. Department of Energy lab operated by Princeton, with Koel and Samuel Cohen, the director of the lab’s program in plasma science and technology.

Read the full story on the Princeton University homepage.