High School Science Project: Nanowire Synthesizer


  • Plasma reactor for creating nanomaterials controlled by DAQFactory
  • DAQFactory quickly learned so student could concentrate on experiment
  • Earned first prize!

The Nanomaterial experiment with DAQFactory

One of Trevor's DAQFactory screens

Trevor's award winning presentation

Nanomaterials produced in vacuum reactors can be used in a wide range of electronics applications, fuel cells, rechargeable batteries, drug delivery, sensors, high performance coatings, UV light-emitting diodes, lasers and a wide range of other applications. The goal for Trevor Powers, a high school student in Louisville Kentucky, was to design and create a plasma reactor for suitable Nanomaterial production.

Using DAQFactory to automate several processes, Trevor was able to accomplish several design goals as well as increase repeatability and accuracy of his Nanomaterial experiments. In order to produce Nanowires for potential product applications several parameters had to be controlled such as obtaining a pressure of 1 Torr or below in less than two minutes, liquid cooling to control heat build up and a heating process up to 800C in less than one minute. DAQFactory was used to output control to several relays which in turn were used to drive the neon power supply, vacuum pump, several gas valves, a water pump and heaters. Using DAQFactory to control these precise processes, Trevor was able to successfully meet his design criteria and produce silicon oxide Nanowires and nickel oxide Nanowires. His research and work earned first prize in Engineering at the Intel International Science Fair. Never having used any automation software before, Trevor mentions "I read the manual one night and started using the software immediately, it felt like I could do what I needed in a few days."

DAQFactory, along with the LabJack U12 were used to obtain data from the vacuum pump gage output and several temperature sensors. Data was constantly recorded and logged to file while experiments were taking place. DAQFactory is a low cost data acquisition and process control software system. It offers flexible data acquisition, easy process control and can be customized to fit in any application, even Nanowire Synthesizers.

Trevor's presentation (PDF)