Searching for PFAS (perfluorooctanoic acid) in the Environment

PFAS are chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products since the 1950’s. They are in non-stick pans, special fabrics, carpets and even firefighting foams.  PFAS has leached into the environment and scientific  studies have shown PFAS in animals and humans all over the world. More research is needed to understand the harmful effects of PFAS. Michael Silvestry (Hope’25) is doing research using the Hope College Particle Accelerator to try to measure trace amounts of PFAS in environmental samples. As part of his work he is using a Lyophilizer (or in other words a freeze dryer) to concentrate the samples through sublimation.

Michael (Hope’25) inspects a frozen PFAS sample taken from a vacuum
oven attached to a Lyophilizer. Special thanks to Dr. Maria Hledin
(Hope College BioChemisty) for the use of her equipment and research

Dr. Judy Kammeraad (Physics graduate at Hope College, class of ’76) comes back to visit.

Dr. Kammeraad talking about 30 years of her career as a nuclear scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Dr. Kammeraad looking at our new accelerator, remembering her days working with the previous one.

Remembering Jenny Hampton, great friend, great scholar

On this day, the Hope College Physics department honors the memory and legacy of Dr. Jennifer “Jenny” Hampton, who died in an automobile accident one year ago today. Dr. Hampton was a professor of physics at Hope College and a posthumous recipient of the HOPE award. She was an effective and brilliant researcher, as well as a relatable and beloved instructor. The hole she left behind is still felt today in the department and across Hope’s campus. She was truly a blessing to the department, the college, and community.

What is inside Hope’s particle accelerator?

The particle accelerator at Hope College is a 1.7 MV tandem accelerator that is capable of creating hydrogen, helium, nitrogen, and oxygen ion beams. This week major maintenance was scheduled to determine the location of a small sulphur-hexafluoride leak on the main tank. With creative vacuum leak chasing techniques,  we determined that the location of the leak was a worn out gasket on the stripper-gas control drive rod feedthrough (as pictured below – right). Also shown below (left) is the opened terminal and accelerating tube.

Left: Miguel Castelan Hernandez (Hope ’23) cleans inside the accelerator terminal tank while Dave Daughtery, Hope College Machinist, cleans and inspects the Van de Graaff chain. Right: Close-up picture of the control rod drive. The control rod drive controls the amount of Nitrogen gas that is fed into the center of the terminal to strip electrons off of accelerating ions.
Bethany Dame (Hope’23) and William Vance (Hope’24) prepare to move the accelerator column back into the terminal tube.