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Mary Masterman, a 17‑year‑old student from Oklahoma City, beat out a field of 40 finalists and won the top award of the 2007 Intel Science Talent Search in March. She will receive a $100,000 scholarship from the Intel Foundation for building an accurate homemade Raman spectra system out of a laser, a digital camera, a variety of lenses, and a prism‑like object to disperse light.
A senior at Westmoore High School, Masterman built her spectrograph system at home for $300, compared to the $20,000 to $100,000 price tag for high‑end commercial systems.
Using a laser as her light source, Masterman tested several household objects and solvents–including acetone and toluene–and compared her results to published wave numbers. Even with her inexpensive laser light source, she found she could make relatively accurate wavelength measurements with her homemade device. She hopes to attend MIT or Caltech after graduation.
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