An Acoustics Approach to Cold Fusion
Harper was the chief scientist in Frank’s department and was always the person he’d go to when problems needed to be solved. Frank recalled one time when he got a call from someone in the intelligence community who had a situation they were working on, with lots of time and money involved, and they weren’t getting any answers. He and Harper looked into the issue, and within three months, Harper had an end-to-end solution with thorough analytics and physics behind it. Frank says, “That’s the person you want working with you on a job like cold fusion. He’s made some contributions that are significant to our progress here.”
To introduce him to the cold fusion challenge, Frank showed Harper a presentation with a video of thermal imaging of a transducer as it was running. The video showed hot spots appearing all over the transducer, flashing on, and with their density increasing as well. This was one of the moments where Harper recalls thinking, “There might be something really going on here.” Further, he remembers somebody suggesting that they use a piezoelectric transducer to see if they could hear the effect. With his background in acoustics, he knew there was more to it.
“What they had done was they had used a transducer that had been used for sonar, which was actually not a piezoelectric device. It was a ferroelectric ceramic that had been poled so that it would behave as if it was piezoelectric. But because it was not a piezoelectric material, it had another property: it was pyroelectric — it responded to heat. Now, guess what we have here in cold fusion. Cold fusion produces heat. So, I thought, boy, here's the challenge. I can apply my acoustics experience to doing cold fusion measurements where we will measure the heat response, not the pressure response of the mini explosions.”
Clearly, Harper’s varied background and expertise would become an asset to the solid-state fusion field. It was this realization and this challenge presented to him, why Harper decided to join Frank and work on solid-state fusion. He says, “Let’s go ahead and find out if this cold fusion thing really is real.” Now, they have been working together for over a decade.