Thimsen receives CAREER award to study low-temperature plasma


Elijah Thimsen, of the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, received a five-year $500,000 CAREER award from the National Science Foundation. He will use the grant to study how chemical reactions occurring in low-temperature plasma move toward a superlocal equilibrium state.

CAREER awards support junior faculty who model the role of teacher-scholar through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of the two within the context of their organization’s mission. One-third of current McKelvey Engineering faculty have received the award.

At equilibrium, plasma is the stable state of matter at very high temperatures of thousands of degrees — for example, on the surface of the sun. In the laboratory, it is possible to produce low-temperature plasma by selectively exciting electrons to very high temperatures while the atoms and molecules in the system remain near room temperature. Plasma is useful for a range of technologically valuable applications, from lasers to manufacturing computer chips.

Read more about the work of Thimsen, assistant professor of energy, environmental and chemical engineering.

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