University of Rochester

Local Teen Reaches Final Round in 'Junior Nobel Prize'

February 5, 2007

Rui Wang, 18, of Fairport High School, is one of 40 finalists selected from the 1,600 who entered the Intel Science Talent Search, which is often regarded as the "Junior Nobel Prize." She was selected on the strength of her research projects carried out last summer at the University of Rochester's Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE). Wang will now attend the Science Talent Institute in Washington, D.C., in March to compete for college scholarships totaling more than $500,000.

Wang's chemistry project described a new computational approach for establishing the absorption wavelengths of nickel dithiolene dyes. These dyes are noted for their intense absorption over a broad range of near-infrared wavelengths and have applications in optics, liquid crystal technologies and lasers. A novel aspect of Wang's study was her use of time-dependent density functional theory, a relatively new methodology, allowing her to predict accurately the maximum absorption wavelengths of various nickel dithiolene dyes.

LLE's primary mission is to study the conditions necessary to create and sustain fusion using the Omega laser. Involving young adults in state-of-the-art science, however, is another important goal of LLE's scientists and engineers.

"Our program provides a unique educational opportunity for talented high-school students. They're amazingly motivated, and it's exciting to see them recognized as among the best in the nation," said Stephen Craxton, LLE physicist and high-school program director. Students working at the laboratory have made up the large majority of Rochester-area Intel semifinalists honored during the past decade.

Applications for LLE's summer program are sent to area high schools in February or can be obtained directly by calling Jean Steve at (585) 275-9517. For more information about the program, contact Craxton at (585) 275-5467.