Lander University graduate Andrew La Croix looks for unreacted sodium metal particles in a reaction flask as associate professor of chemistry Dr. Lisa Brodhacker looks on.
Andrew La Croix of Spartanburg, who graduated from Lander University in April with a B.S. in chemistry, recently learned that he has been selected by the S.C. Space Grant Consortium to receive a $5,000 grant.
La Croix's proposal, "Synthesis and Characterization of Spiro Orthocarbonate Compounds for the Use of Shrinkage Reduction in Epoxy Telescope Mirrors," was the number one choice of the consortium for undergraduate student funding.
La Croix, who will pursue a graduate degree in organic chemistry at Vanderbilt University beginning in the fall, is working with Lander associate professor of chemistry Dr. Lisa Brodhacker, who has been trying to perfect a type of telescope mirror that is lighter, more durable, easier to produce and less expensive than its glass counterpart.
The goal of Brodhacker, who recently received a $53,100 grant partially funded by the consortium and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (NASA EPSCoR), is "a zero shrinkage epoxy mirror." Such a mirror could potentially be used not only in laser communications, or to harness solar power, but in viewing telescopes, too.
Brodhacker believes it is only a matter of time until the mirror she envisions is a reality. "The mirrors keep improving each time we make one," she said.