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Kevin Claytor, Los Alamos High School, Los Alamos, NM

National Winner - $30,000 scholarship

Southwest Region Silver Medal Winner

"Acoustic and Ultrasonic Resonances Induced by Laser Irradiation"

In his research, Kevin Claytor set out to study how lasers can remotely induce ultrasonic waves into a material . This project has the potential for important technological impact, such as in the nondestructive evaluation of engineering components or material analysis for airport security. For his project, Mr. Claytor examined two techniques for producing acoustic waves. The first technique examined was laser ablation, in which part of the material was vaporized by the laser. Mr. Claytor then compared this technique with a second approach in which a small amount of material was heated by the light pulse, but did not directly damage the surface of the target. One of the most significant aspects of Mr. Claytor’s work is that he found that it is possible to drive the sound waves needed to probe a sample of material with the latter, non-destructive heating technique. This will be a crucial step to the ultimate application of the laser technique in any real world application.


Mr. Claytor, a senior, enjoys mountain biking, downhill skiing and hiking. In the 2004 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, he placed third in physics and received special awards from the Society of Exploration Geophysicist and the American Association of Physics Teachers. He is a volunteer for the Empty Soup Bowl Project and the Bradbury Science Museum , and a National Honor Society member. Mr. Claytor plans to study physics and biophysics in college. His mentors on this project were his father, Thomas Claytor, and James Ten Cate.

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