From Rochester Institute of Technology (US) : “RIT researcher and students participate in joint project with UR’s Laboratory of Laser Energetics”

From Rochester Institute of Technology (US)

June 15, 2021
Michelle Cometa

Collaboration on vibration control continues to refine development of energy alternatives through fusion.

Students in RIT’s College of Engineering Technology (CET) worked alongside faculty-researcher Brian Rice this semester on designing hardware in support of cryogenic inertial confinement fusion experiments. The work, part of a larger initiative based in the University of Rochester’s (US) U Rochester Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) (US), is helping to contribute to novel thermonuclear fusion technology solutions, specifically in the area of vibration control of the spherical capsules containing solidified heavy hydrogen, the fuel source.

This image is of an 860 micro-meter diameter plastic shell supported by a 17-micro meter silicon carbide fiber. The shell is filled with a mixture of heavy hydrogen that undergoes fusion reactions. Credit: Laboratory of Laser Energetics, University of Rochester.

“The ultimate goal is to have a fusion reaction that produces more energy out than is put in. Experiments at LLE have proven that it is physically possible. Unlike a fission reaction, a fusion reaction produces no nuclear waste,” said Rice, an assistant professor in CET’s Department of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology. He has received research funding for specific projects as part of UR’s grant with the Department of Energy (US). Some aspects of the developmental process are taking place at RIT with Rice leading a team of undergraduate and graduate students in the process.

“Most of our research projects have been related to two areas, fuel capsule vibration isolation systems and fuel capsule support structures,” said Rice, who is part of the growing research initiatives at CET that utilize the expertise of its faculty-researchers and ongoing collaborations with peer universities such as the University of Rochester.

The relationship allows for students to learn more about the field of fusion reactor technology and to have hands-on design opportunities to learn about the important development process. This work is part of the evolving area of laser fusion—which shines laser light directly on a spherical fuel capsule containing heavy hydrogen. The resulting energy transfer from the laser produces intense temperatures and pressures creating a thermonuclear fusion reaction, comparable to the power emitted by the sun. Long-term research goals are to create a fusion reactor capable of producing electric power and the discovery of new materials and processes that could lead to more efficient fusion reactions.

“From that standpoint, a lot of the work is fairly unique to the LLE’s program. Though much of our vibration isolation work is applicable to many industries. For example, minimizing vibrations is important in the manufacture of integrated circuits, and high quality optical instruments,” said Rice.

Over the course of three years, students in Rice’s lab have completed five capstone projects, and five undergraduate research projects related to different aspects of the LLE research. Several breakthroughs in the area of Eddy current damping—the phenomena of movement of a conductor in a magenetic field which causes heat build up and energy loss.

“While working in Dr. Rice’s lab, I completed research on controlling impacts in sports helmets and Eddy current damping. My work was very hands-on,” said Luc Booz, a fifth-year mechanical engineering technology major from Northbridge, Mass., who graduated this May. “ I met and communicated with a researcher at LLE to go over project goals and progress a couple of times. It was very exciting to see the facility and understand the machines and equipment my research was contributing to. Prior to my research, I had no knowledge of this engineering field so learning more about it and viewing the facilities were exciting experiences.”

Pete van Camp agreed. The third-year student from Marion, N.Y., designed a test model that incorporated Eddy current dampening into a three-point ball-bearing isolator. The purpose of this was to test the effectiveness of the Eddy currents in dampening the low, natural frequencies left over from the isolator.

“One of the greatest challenges is that there is not much previous research done on eddy currents used in this way,” van Camp said. He looks to continue work in the lab this summer and fall.

“The RIT students, under the leadership of Brian Rice, have proven to be a valuable asset to the LLE Cryogenic program,” said Milt Shoup, head of the mechanical engineering department at LLE, and UR’s principal investigator on this research collaboration. “The students provide LLE the resource pool necessary to pursue cutting edge technologies and techniques for the Cryogenic program. Their work over the last three years is proving to be beneficial to the LLE program.”

Shoup has received research funding for specific projects as part of UR’s grant with the Department of Energy. This work is supported by the DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (US).

Rice came to RIT in 2016, after several years as part of the LLE team at UR. He was part of the UR in-house team that designed the next-generation moving cryostat that is currently used for all cryogenic fusion experiments at LLE. He retained his relationship with the group, collaborating on a series of projects in his area of expertise related to vibration control, solid mechanics, and heat transfer.

For Rice, the continued relationship with the University of Rochester has multiple benefits—for the Laser Lab and the students at both universities.

“I usually meet students in the classes that I teach and from talking to them, I get an idea of their interests and what they are good at,” he said, adding that even during the pandemic, the research work was modified slightly with a mix of online connections and in-person labs have continued. “It is learn-by-doing. I let them know what we need to accomplish and how to run experiments to measure vibrations and I guide them overall in how to do this.”

The multi-year collaboration has resulted in journal articles and conference participation. CET also has a partnership with Vellore Institute of Technology [वेल्लोर इंस्टीट्यूट ऑफ टेक्नोलॉजी](IN), India, and Rice has included students from this college on several projects.

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Rochester Institute of Technology (US) is a private doctoral university within the town of Henrietta in the Rochester, New York metropolitan area.

RIT is composed of nine academic colleges, including National Technical Institute for the Deaf(RIT)(US). The Institute is one of only a small number of engineering institutes in the State of New York, including New York Institute of Technology, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute(US). It is most widely known for its fine arts, computing, engineering, and imaging science programs; several fine arts programs routinely rank in the national “Top 10” according to US News & World Report.

The university offers undergraduate and graduate degrees, including doctoral and professional degrees and online masters as well.

The university was founded in 1829 and is the tenth largest private university in the country in terms of full-time students. It is internationally known for its science; computer; engineering; and art programs as well as for the National Technical Institute for the Deaf- a leading deaf-education institution that provides educational opportunities to more than 1000 deaf and hard-of-hearing students. RIT is known for its Co-op program that gives students professional and industrial experience. It has the fourth oldest and one of the largest Co-op programs in the world. It is classified among “R2: Doctoral Universities – High research activity”.

RIT’s student population is approximately 19,000 students, about 16,000 undergraduate and 3000 graduate. Demographically, students attend from all 50 states in the United States and from more than 100 countries around the world. The university has more than 4000 active faculty and staff members who engage with the students in a wide range of academic activities and research projects. It also has branches abroad, its global campuses, located in China, Croatia and United Arab Emirates (Dubai).

Fourteen RIT alumni and faculty members have been recipients of the Pulitzer Prize.


The university began as a result of an 1891 merger between Rochester Athenæum, a literary society founded in 1829 by Colonel Nathaniel Rochester and associates and The Mechanics Institute- a Rochester school of practical technical training for local residents founded in 1885 by a consortium of local businessmen including Captain Henry Lomb- co-founder of Bausch & Lomb. The name of the merged institution at the time was called Rochester Athenæum and Mechanics Institute (RAMI). The Mechanics Institute however, was considered as the surviving school by taking over The Rochester Athenaeum’s charter. From the time of the merger until 1944 RAMI celebrated The former Mechanics Institute’s 1885 founding charter. In 1944 the school changed its name to Rochester Institute of Technology and re-established The Athenaeum’s 1829 founding charter and became a full-fledged research university.

The university originally resided within the city of Rochester, New York, proper, on a block bounded by the Erie Canal; South Plymouth Avenue; Spring Street; and South Washington Street (approximately 43.152632°N 77.615157°W). Its art department was originally located in the Bevier Memorial Building. By the middle of the twentieth century, RIT began to outgrow its facilities, and surrounding land was scarce and expensive. Additionally in 1959 the New York Department of Public Works announced a new freeway- the Inner Loop- was to be built through the city along a path that bisected the university’s campus and required demolition of key university buildings. In 1961 an unanticipated donation of $3.27 million ($27,977,071 today) from local Grace Watson (for whom RIT’s dining hall was later named) allowed the university to purchase land for a new 1,300-acre (5.3 km^2) campus several miles south along the east bank of the Genesee River in suburban Henrietta. Upon completion in 1968 the university moved to the new suburban campus, where it resides today.

In 1966 RIT was selected by the Federal government to be the site of the newly founded National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID). NTID admitted its first students in 1968 concurrent with RIT’s transition to the Henrietta campus.

In 1979 RIT took over Eisenhower College- a liberal arts college located in Seneca Falls, New York. Despite making a 5-year commitment to keep Eisenhower open RIT announced in July 1982 that the college would close immediately. One final year of operation by Eisenhower’s academic program took place in the 1982–83 school year on the Henrietta campus. The final Eisenhower graduation took place in May 1983 back in Seneca Falls.

In 1990 RIT started its first PhD program in Imaging Science – the first PhD program of its kind in the U.S. RIT subsequently established PhD programs in six other fields: Astrophysical Sciences and Technology; Computing and Information Sciences; Color Science; Microsystems Engineering; Sustainability; and Engineering. In 1996 RIT became the first college in the U.S to offer a Software Engineering degree at the undergraduate level.


RIT has nine colleges:

RIT College of Engineering Technology
Saunders College of Business
B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences
Kate Gleason College of Engineering
RIT College of Health Sciences and Technology
College of Art and Design
RIT College of Liberal Arts
RIT College of Science
National Technical Institute for the Deaf

There are also three smaller academic units that grant degrees but do not have full college faculties:

RIT Center for Multidisciplinary Studies
Golisano Institute for Sustainability
University Studies

In addition to these colleges, RIT operates three branch campuses in Europe, one in the Middle East and one in East Asia:

RIT Croatia (formerly the American College of Management and Technology) in Dubrovnik and Zagreb, Croatia
RIT Kosovo (formerly the American University in Kosovo) in Pristina, Kosovo
RIT Dubai in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
RIT China-Weihai Campus

RIT also has international partnerships with the following schools:[34]

Yeditepe University in Istanbul, Turkey
Birla Institute of Technology and Science in India
Pontificia Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM) in Dominican Republic
Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo (INTEC) in Dominican Republic
Universidad Tecnologica Centro-Americana (UNITEC) in Honduras
Universidad del Norte (UNINORTE) in Colombia
Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas (UPC) in Peru


RIT’s research programs are rapidly expanding. The total value of research grants to university faculty for fiscal year 2007–2008 totaled $48.5 million- an increase of more than twenty-two percent over the grants from the previous year. The university currently offers eight PhD programs: Imaging science; Microsystems Engineering; Computing and Information Sciences; Color science; Astrophysical Sciences and Technology; Sustainability; Engineering; and Mathematical modeling.

In 1986 RIT founded the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science and started its first doctoral program in Imaging Science in 1989. The Imaging Science department also offers the only Bachelors (BS) and Masters (MS) degree programs in imaging science in the country. The Carlson Center features a diverse research portfolio; its major research areas include Digital Image Restoration; Remote Sensing; Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Printing Systems Research; Color Science; Nanoimaging; Imaging Detectors; Astronomical Imaging; Visual Perception; and Ultrasonic Imaging.

The Center for Microelectronic and Computer Engineering was founded by RIT in 1986. The university was the first university to offer a bachelor’s degree in Microelectronic Engineering. The Center’s facilities include 50,000 square feet (4,600 m^2) of building space with 10,000 square feet (930 m^2) of clean room space. The building will undergo an expansion later this year. Its research programs include nano-imaging; nano-lithography; nano-power; micro-optical devices; photonics subsystems integration; high-fidelity modeling and heterogeneous simulation; microelectronic manufacturing; microsystems integration; and micro-optical networks for computational applications.

The Center for Advancing the Study of CyberInfrastructure (CASCI) is a multidisciplinary center housed in the College of Computing and Information Sciences. The Departments of Computer science; Software Engineering; Information technology; Computer engineering; Imaging Science; and Bioinformatics collaborate in a variety of research programs at this center. RIT was the first university to launch a Bachelor’s program in Information technology in 1991; the first university to launch a Bachelor’s program in Software Engineering in 1996 and was also among the first universities to launch a Computer science Bachelor’s program in 1972. RIT helped standardize the Forth programming language and developed the CLAWS software package.

The Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation was founded in 2007. The CCRG comprises faculty and postdoctoral research associates working in the areas of general relativity; gravitational waves; and galactic dynamics. Computing facilities in the CCRG include gravitySimulator, a novel 32-node supercomputer that uses special-purpose hardware to achieve speeds of 4TFlops in gravitational N-body calculations, and newHorizons [image N/A], a state-of-the art 85-node Linux cluster for numerical relativity simulations.

Gravity Simulator at the Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation, RIT, Rochester, New York, USA.

The Center for Detectors was founded in 2010. The CfD designs; develops; and implements new advanced sensor technologies through collaboration with academic researchers; industry engineers; government scientists; and university/college students. The CfD operates four laboratories and has approximately a dozen funded projects to advance detectors in a broad array of applications, e.g. astrophysics; biomedical imaging; Earth system science; and inter-planetary travel. Center members span eight departments and four colleges.

RIT has collaborated with many industry players in the field of research as well, including IBM; Xerox; Rochester’s Democrat and Chronicle; Siemens; National Aeronautics Space Agency(US); and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (US) (DARPA). In 2005, it was announced by Russell W. Bessette- Executive Director New York State Office of Science Technology & Academic Research (NYSTAR), that RIT will lead the SUNY University at Buffalo (US) and Alfred University (US) in an initiative to create key technologies in microsystems; photonics; nanomaterials; and remote sensing systems and to integrate next generation IT systems. In addition, the collaboratory is tasked with helping to facilitate economic development and tech transfer in New York State. More than 35 other notable organizations have joined the collaboratory, including Boeing, Eastman Kodak, IBM, Intel, SEMATECH, ITT, Motorola, Xerox, and several Federal agencies, including as NASA.

RIT has emerged as a national leader in manufacturing research. In 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy selected RIT to lead its Reducing Embodied-Energy and Decreasing Emissions (REMADE) Institute aimed at forging new clean energy measures through the Manufacturing USA initiative. RIT also participates in five other Manufacturing USA research institutes.