CBA student makes important scientific breakthrough, gets nod from NASA

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) - There's not that many soon-to-be high school seniors who can say that they've come up with a scientific breakthrough, but there's one CBA student who can.

Hari Nanthakumar didn’t want to waste his summer doing nothing, so the teen decided to get to a research lab and create something worthwhile.

Last summer, Hari cold-called professor Ian Hosein of SU’s College of Engineering and Computer Science.

“I had this idea of making this new kind of structure using simple LEDs and I thought it'd be something that he could try, if it works great and if it doesn't at least he gained some type of experience from it,” Hosein said.

Hari got to work in the basement of SU's Link Hall, taking a liquid polymer and hitting it with visible lights of different combinations and angles to produce the right chemical reaction to make the fiber he wanted.

“It's kind of hard not getting frustrated but you just kind of work through them because you're working towards this greater goal and the greater goal has many implications,” Nanthakumar said.

After months and months of work, he finally got it--a fiber that is ultralight, but also ultra strong and could someday be used for cars, planes or even space applications.

"You don't expect your student to become a world leader in advanced material fabrication and that's where he is,” Hosein said.

Hari's work has led him to the very rare feat of being published as lead author of a study in a prestigious scientific journal, as well as earning him honorable mention from NASA in a major science fair with kids competing from all over the world.

Now that he's made the breakthrough, Hari is still working in the lab to look at how to further the science he's developed. 

Professor Hosein says the work is so advanced he's likely to have his PhD students get involved with it.

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