coil from the Plasma project

Fred's World of Science: Research

Updated 12/12/05

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Here I am explaining the function of the large 1MW triodes and 200kW klystrons in the linac gallery at Fermilab during a SPS tour of the facility in 1999.
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Recent ProjectsTiny Nixie tubes
Graduate school researchThe L2 Muon Interface board
College researchExploding apples
High School (Science Fair) researchCyclotron outgassing blue-blow

Recent Projects

First nixie clock project
operational, though messy...
First Nixie tube clock with digits on display. The clock is supposed to show 02:00:38, but the digits are all out of order.
Since moving into the private sector away from academia, I've developed a fair amount of free time. This allows me to pursue various “backburner” projects I've been storing up over the years. I started with a few nixie tube clocks. First I used some larger square nixies I had laying around. Then I moved on to smaller square nixies, and finally to soviet-era cylindrical nixies. Each clock was designed with PIC microcontrollers with varying levels of programming sophistication. Take a look!

The first nixie tube clock project with NL-8422 tubes
The second nixie clock design, using the tiny ИН-17 tubes
The third clock I sold on the front page, (and sold out of), but you can still look at the clock manual with lots of pictures
After that, I built a 4th clock project that isn't on this page...
Then the fifth clock project came along. Leigh Aitken from CNC Creations in Australia asked me to design the electronics for 25 clocks that he was planning on selling. This clock used ИН-8-2 tubes, and looked fantastic. The clock project went well, and the design details are available on the Nixie Clocks for CNC Creations page.
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Graduate School Research

PP-6V6 Amp, about 12-15W no distortion-
solid state front end
Working late at night on a tube amp for my father's christmas present, 11/2000
My graduate school research involved the AFB, or Front-Back Asymmetry. Using the CDF detector at Fermilab I was able to collect dilepton angular distribution data which allows me to further describe the charge asymmetry in events of the following form: pp -> Z0 (X) -> e+e- (X). This particular study gives a measurement of the neutral-current coupling to light quarks at the Z mass scale. This, in turn, gave me a handle on sin2 thetaW. My prelim defense paper is available here

As a graduate student at the U of M involved with the CDF collaboration, I was required to do hardware upgrades in addition to my research duties. Most of my time was spent with the design of a new front end for the Level 2 trigger system's muon interface. My board (one of thousands in the 3-story detector) will had roughly 10Gigs of data per second coming through it. (yikes!)

Check out Fermi National Accelerator Lab
You can see the CDF detector at Fermilab, where I used to work
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College Research

Four DEI 102N20 MOSFETs in series,
operating class A
Linear power amplifier using high power MOSFETs in series for an electron lens project
My research in college was looking at accelerator physics concepts in the Advanced Accelerator Research and Development Department at Fermilab. My background gave me a lot of experience in the accelerator field. I worked in the RFI department for a long time, studying RF acceleration techniques, as well as learning a branch of electronics (high power RF) that is not taught these days. Vacuum tube and solid state systems are incredibly fun to design and operate. When I wasn't studying accelerator physics at Fermilab, I was having fun building lasers with my friends at the U of C. Here's a few links to some of my research.

You can read the actual papers from the BNL website:
Electron lens paper
Mosfet paper
The paper is referenced at Fermilab, under Beam Beam interaction compensation papers
Fun with N2 Lasers, my college room mate's web site, and a few pictures of an older N2 laser design in the picture gallery
Here's a few pictures of some ferrite-biased cavity resonators I built at Fermilab as test setups several years ago
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High School (Science Fair) Research

I have done a lot of research over the past few years. All of these are junior and highschool science fair projects that did quite well in various competitions. I competed in the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) three years in a row. The second year I competed, I won the overall grand prize. The projects presented here took a large percentage of my spare time during the year. My summers were spent planning, and the school years were spent constructing the devices and completing the experiments.
Winding the coils for my very first science fair project

My first science fair project: "Faraday's Law of Induction" ca 1989.

Many people ask me what gave me the idea to do these projects. The answer is a nurturing home life and a passion for amateur science. I have always been fascinated by electronics and physics. The sciences in general were always my favorite part of school. In grade school I hated math classes. In high school, I was almost driven away from the sciences and in particular physics. However, when I took pre-calculus for the first time, I was no longer afraid of math. Calculus is a great tool that took away my fear of mathematics, and gave me the confidence to continue in physics. I was able to attend graduate school in Physics at the University of Michigan, fulfilling my childhood goal of becoming a physicist.

Resonance Spectral Analysis with a Homebuilt Cyclotron
A look at the design, construction, and results obtained from a cyclotron with a number of species of accelerated particles.
Demonstrating Particle Mass Resonance with a Homebuilt Cyclotron
My first cyclotron and its design. The first cyclotron project was consumed mostly with the design of the machine
Subatomic Particle Interactions with a 100keV Linear Accelerator
Design, construction, and experiments with an electrostatic linear accelerator. Using a Cockroft Walton multiplier in stead of a Van de Graff machine was a great improvement over earlier designs.
Plasma: The Fourth State of Matter
In this, my Freshman year project, I explored the production of plasma with a tesla coil.

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Copyright Fred M. Niell, III 2005