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Mira Varma
Undergraduate Researcher
Physics Department, University of Connecticut


This semester I continued trying to build a GEM in order to create a faster and more efficient radon detector. For the first part, and majority, of the semester I focused on finishing making the materials needed for the GEM. I stretched copper plates using a system of weights and metal bowls epoxyed to brass which was attached to copper. I learned that the metal bowl must be centered around the brass and that the weight must be distributed uniformly around the center of the copper ring, or else the stretching will not work. I also learned that you must use a lot of epoxy in order for the metal to stretch. I used too little epoxy in one of my attempts to stretch the ring, and this caused the copper to detach from the brass sheet. It was hard to find a balance between how much epoxy to use because too much epoxy caused a mess and was too thick, whereas too little epoxy caused the metal to detach. I also learned how to use the Dremel in order to cut off the excess brass around the copper ring. Using a Dremel was the quickest and most efficient way to cut the metal: using a knife took much longer and the cutting was very jagged. I also worked on finalizing the circuit design and learned that using resistors in the design is not possible because the resistances that would be needed in order for the power to be miniscule are too large. I didn't realize this initially so I designed a circuit with an enormous resistance, which I then had to adjust. After this was completed, I began assembling the electronics for the detector and designing its arrangement in an efficient way.

My logbook (with photos of copper stretching and new circuit):