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Liya Regel Of Clarkson University Awarded Prize By International Academy Of Astronautics
Potsdam, N.Y. -- Professor Liya Regel of Clarkson University has been honored with the prestigious Basic Sciences Award by the International Academy of Astronautics. The award was presented at the organization’s meeting at the International Astronautical Congress on October 1 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in recognition of her “significant contribution to the advancement of international cooperation and leadership in the advancement of materials research in space.” Regel currently heads the International Center for Gravity Materials Science and Applications at Clarkson University.
Regel is the first woman to receive this award, which was last presented in 1997. She is also the first researcher in the fields of microgravity and materials science to receive this honor. The term “microgravity” refers to work done in orbiting spacecraft, where the acceleration is about one-millionth of that due to earth’s gravity. In addition to her many contributions to materials research in space, she is also a pioneer in the field of centrifugal materials processing.
In 1993, Regel constructed at Clarkson University the first centrifuge facility in the world dedicated to materials processing and related-flow visualization. Centrifugation causes a high acceleration, which simulates high gravity conditions and can create changes in the properties of materials as they are processed.
Regel’s research has centered on the processing of materials in space and in high gravity. “Acceleration is another variable like vacuum, pressure or temperature that influences what happens when you are making materials,” explained Regel. “Space reduces acceleration, while centrifugation increases it.” Different acceleration rates result in differences in crystal formation, size of particles and percentages of impurities – all of which have importance in the final properties of a material.
For example, while working on the incorporation of impurities in semiconductor crystals, which is necessary to control the semiconductor’s electronic properties, Regel found that she could create very uniform impurity concentrations by growing the crystals at a particular rotation rate of the centrifuge. Identifying techniques such as these is the purpose of much of the research currently being conducted.
Most recently, Regel’s work has focused on diamond film deposition at high gravity. Because of diamond’s many exceptional properties, diamond films have numerous practical applications, such as heat removal in optical communications equipment and coatings on tools to increase their durability. Regel found that diamond deposition in the Clarkson centrifuge greatly improved the process.
There are now numerous ultracentrifuges located at research centers and universities around the world, with researchers studying their use in separating biomedical materials, making nanoparticles, synthesizing materials, and coating surfaces. Many of these researchers presented their findings at the Fourth International Workshop on Materials Processing in High Gravity, held at Clarkson in May 2000.