Muhammad Shaheer Niazi from Pakistan has made a name for himself in the scientific world at the tender age of 17.
He demonstrated the first ever photographic evidence of an “electric honeycomb” or specifically the charged ions creating the honeycomb. Even though physicists knew about this for quite some time, this is the first time that scientists were able to see evidence of the phenomenon.
His work was published yesterday in the Royal Society Open Science journal. This is what an electric honeycomb looks like:
This shows how electricity moves within a liquid. Engineers can use this to come up with technology for biomedicine, heating or printing.
What is an Electric Honeycomb?
So what is an electric honeycomb phenomenon? It happens when certain electrically charged ions travel between a pointy, needle like electrode to a flat one with a puddle of oil between them.
It works sort of like a capacitor. In layman terms, a capacitor stores electric charge which is discharged when a sufficient amount builds up. It travels from the top electrode, going through an insulator to the bottom or the ground electrode.
In an electric honeycomb, the top electrode is a needle. The needle delivers a high voltage to the air above the oil which itself is on the ground electrode.
The high voltage strips the electrons from the air molecules, forming ions which are attracted to the bottom electrode. These ions pour on to the oil and are unable to pass through.
Eventually, enough ions build up to sink down, through the oil, and get to the electrode. This makes the surface of the oil uneven due to the gap formed by the ions.
Because of this, within a span of milliseconds, several hexagon shapes form making the oil look like a honeycomb. It shows how gravity and the electric field are kept in a balance, letting the gravity fill in the gaps while the electric field pushes through it.
Significance of Niazi’s Work
This was all theoretical as there was no evidence to back it up. To prove that the ions are moving through the oil, Niazi photographed the shadows of the wind as the ions were released. He recorded the presumed heat released by the friction of the ions travelling through the oil.
The heat looked to be coming from the needle, spreading outwards and increasing with time. This showed that the ions accumulated (just as the theory explains it) and then pushed through the oil.
Dr. Alberto T. Pérez Izquierdo, a physicist from the University of Seville, Spain, inspired Niazi’s project. Albterto was puzzled by the results, saying that he hadn’t explored the temperature changes before. He was expecting a smaller heat footprint or an even heating effect.
I think it’s outstanding for so young a scientist to reproduce these results.
Shaheer Niazi wants to go even further by exploring the mathematics of this phenomenon. He is hoping to win a Nobel prize in the future. With the kind of effort he has shown so far, his dreams might come true sooner rather than later.
Via New York Times