Fiflis Gains DOE Fellowship for Plasma/Fusion Studies
NPRE at Illinois graduate student Peter R. Fiflis has been awarded an Office of Science Graduate Fellowship from the U.S. Department of Energy.
The fellowship will provide living expenses, tuition and a research allowance, and is renewable for up to three years. The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education administers the program.
Fiflis conducts research with his advisor, NPRE Prof. David N. Ruzic, in the Center for Plasma Materials Interaction.
In one area of his work, Fiflis helps to investigate the wetting properties of lithium on various surfaces. Lithium, the lightest metal and least dense solid element, is highly reactive and therefore has important links to nuclear physics. Fusion devices using liquid-lithium plasma-facing components might provide a viable track toward building fusion reactors that are affordable and commercial. Fiflis participates in testing lithium's wetting properties on stainless steel and molybdenum. He and the Center's other scientists also test whether various treatments, such as diamond-like carbon films, plasma cleaning and/or heat treatments, increase the angle of lithium on surfaces.
He also is examining the thermoelectric power of lithium, tin and lithium-tin alloys. While the high temperatures of a fusion reactor may cause evaporation in pure lithium, a tin alloyed with lithium suppresses evaporation, allowing the combined material to withstand higher temperatures.
A native of Indian Head Park, Illinois, Fiflis earned a bachelor's degree in NPRE in December 2011. He recently was honored with the Department's Outstanding Academic Achievement Award to a Graduating Senior, and was named a University of Illinois Bronze Tablet winner. Each year the Urbana campus recognizes the high academic achievement of the top 3 percent of undergraduate students by inscribing their names on on bronze tablets displayed on the first floor of the Main Library.