Every year, the Intel Science Talent Search (Intel STS) recognizes 300 high school students as semifinalists, who have gone the extra mile to create an original research project. This year, senior Jerry Liu is one of these students.
The Intel STS is a prestigious nationwide science competition created by Society for Science & the Public. It provides the opportunity for high school seniors to conduct original research and present it to nationally recognized scientists. Since its creation in 1942, Intel STS has had over 130,000 students submit research projects.
Jerry first participated in the Garcia Summer Research Program, which allowed him to choose his research project. Jerry chose silicon nanowires after listening to a seminar on nanomaterials. Silicon nanowires have a very high electrical capacity, giving them the potential to increase the power of batteries. He modeled these nanowires using a computer and analyzed their physical properties, a process that required much research. He then submitted his research to science competitions like the Intel STS and Siemens.
“The Garcia Summer Research Program gave seminars on various different types of nanomaterials projects they were working on,” Jerry said. “I thought the idea of creating a computer model was really interesting, so I talked to a mentor. He gave me some research papers to read, and I thought it was very fascinating.”
However, the project did not lack obstacles. Silicon nanowires is not an everyday topic, and Jerry was required to do college-level research in order to complete his project.
“It was definitely challenging material, but I definitely worked hard at it,” Jerry said. “Even though a lot of it I couldn’t understand at first, I read a bunch of papers about the background, I worked hard in the lab every day and I eventually got the hang of it.”
In addition to the general difficulty of the topic, Jerry also had to deal with the coding for his computer model.
“The code would not work as well as I thought,” Jerry said. “One time, I took three days throughout the weekend trying to fix a problem in the code. When I saw all the equations come together, that was a happy moment.”
Jerry’s research on silicon nanowires has caused him to discover his liking for science research, which he wants to continue doing in college. In the world’s perspective, further development of silicon nanowires may improve battery longevity, increasing the convenience and effectiveness of everyday batteries.
“I realized I like doing this,” Jerry said. “I want to continue doing science research in college. If we keep on developing silicon nanowires, it might mean that when you put them in batteries, electronics would be able to last much longer.”
[Image courtesy Jerry Liu]