starry might
Imagine if you could channel the force of faraway stars into bright ideas for a better life on Earth.

One Clemson scientist, Chad Sosolik, associate professor of physics, is doing more than imagining it. He is doing it. Not in some mysterious location in space, but right here in his lab, using a custom-designed Electron Beam Ion Trap, or EBIT. The cost of this rare piece of versatile, nimble equipment is being funded by the National Science Foundation.

Highly charged ions don’t exist on Earth, only in the bellies of stars. They are, in their natural habitat, a puddle of stellar matter. So, how is it even possible to harness that power? Sosolik and his colleagues use the EBIT to strip atoms of their electrons and produce highly charged ions. Then what? They send them hurling down a beamline toward various targets. The basic question, he says, is “What happens when these ions are sent flying through the air and crash into a material structure?” The bigger – and life-changing question – is “What can be accomplished when the results are known?”

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