Valley native places second in national physics competition

Raissa Tetanish
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VALLEY – Allison Sibley’s work in physics is receiving national recognition.

Allison Sibley, a 21-year-old Valley native set to graduate from Mount Allison University in the spring, recently placed second nationally in the engineering and applied physics category at the Canadian Undergraduate Physics Conference.

Sibley, a 21-year-old Valley native set to graduate from Mount Allison University in the spring, placed second nationally in the engineering and applied physics category at the Canadian Undergraduate Physics Conference.

“There were five of us that went and we knew one of the guys with us would do quite well, so I didn’t expect to place,” said Sibley, about her 10-minute oral presentation on the substrate dependence of cantilever stress measurements for electroless copper deposition.

“At the banquet when they called my name for second place, I thought, ‘did they just say my name, did that actually happen?’” 

Sibley’s research tests stresses on copper and its deposition, which plays a key role in the manufacturing process for printed circuit boards used widely in today’s technology.

“Because electronic devices are so small now, their circuit boards are smaller as well,” Sibley explained about her research with Dr. Ralf Brüning.

Sibley said the copper is printed right on the substrate boards for the devices, with the boards now being made out of plastic instead of metal.

These kinds of tests can help determine how well circuit boards, and ultimately many of our electronic devices, work under stress.

“All of the stress tests are done on metal, and metal and plastic have different properties. I made identical boards out of plastic for the stress tests.”

Sibley worked on this over the summer as part of her honours thesis.

Graduating from Cobequid Educational Centre in 2010, Sibley admits she wasn’t keen on taking physics, however she liked physics better than biology and her father wanted her to take a second science.

“I just fell in love with it,” she said, attributing the love to her teachers – Kevin Farrell and Jody O’Brien. “I knew then that physics is what I wanted to do. I was always one to want to know why things happened and how things worked.”

During her research, Sibley discovered that the plastic substrate boards undergo compressive stress after being removed from a warm solution before spreading back out.

“The thermal expansion rates are different between plastic and metal,” she said. “I’m not sure if it is detrimental to the device. We thought that this was likely already happening, but now we know.”

She co-published a paper last summer with Brüning on her research and another paper is under review. Sibley plans to pursue a master’s degree following graduation this spring, with her ultimate goal being a doctorate.

“After that, I think I would like to do some industrial research for a company, or something like that,” she said. 

Sibley is also a member of the physics society, a tutor, and involved in Let’s Talk Science. She also served as an off-campus councillor with the Mount Allison Students Union. 

 

rtetanish@trurodaily.com

Twitter: @TDNRaissa

Organizations: Mount Allison University, Cobequid Educational Centre, Mount Allison Students Union

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  • Yan Mowatt
    December 18, 2013 - 11:58

    that is so great Allison, I know you never learned this stuff from me !!! LOL Best wishes to you and keep up the great work you are going to be famous some day. Merry Christmas

  • Kevin Sibley
    December 17, 2013 - 10:46

    That's my girl. So proud of you Allison! I wonder how many people reading this article realize how rare it is for an undergraduate student to be doing this high level of research. And to have two, count 'em, TWO published scientific papers in highly respected scientific journals. WOW!

  • Mohsin Ali
    December 17, 2013 - 04:03

    really awsome job... physics need you