Dr. Zaal Machavariani, an associate professor of physics at Tbilisi State
University, Tbilisi, Georgia, has been awarded a 2007-2008 Fulbright Scholar
grant to do research relevant to fusion as a sustainable energy source at the
University of Missouri-Rolla campus. UMR will become Missouri University of
Science and Technology on Jan. 1, 2008.
Machavariani will arrive at Missouri S&T in January and will work for
nine months with Dr. Michael Schulz, Curators’ Professor of physics and
director of the university’s Laboratory for Atomic, Molecular and Optical
According to Machavariani, there are only three large energy options
available to sustain and increase the present rate of world energy use: solar
energy, nuclear fission and fusion. However, solar energy requires large
collecting areas and major energy storage. Power plants using nuclear fission
could alleviate energy shortfalls, but nuclear-waste disposal still is a
Machavariani believes fusion power could be the answer.
“The final goal of modern fusion research is to develop fusion power plants
to generate electricity in an efficient way,” Machavariani says. “Fusion has
potential advantages as a safe, sustainable and environmentally attractive
source of energy for electricity generation.”
Machavariani and Schulz met at the International Conference in Atomic
Physics in Metz, France, in 2002. At the conference, Machavariani presented a
poster on the subject of fusion power and the pair got to talking.
“This project will give us an opportunity to share with each other the
experience acquired in studying atomic molecular processes during the last few
years,” Machavariani says. “I believe that our cooperation will support future
mutual scientific research initiatives.
“It is a great honor for me to be awarded the Fulbright Scholar grant,” he
adds. “I am pleased that, as it was expected, the United States of America
appreciates and supports fundamental research all over the world.”
Schulz says he is looking forward to having Machavariani on campus.
“He will provide theoretical calculations on our experiments,” Schulz says.
“Dr. Machavariani is a very talented physicist, and his theoretical analysis
will undoubtedly help the interpretation of our experimental results.”
Machavariani hopes the results obtained during his research in Missouri will
be beneficial to researchers at Tbilisi State University, as well. He plans to
organize seminars on the subject for post-graduate scholars and his