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Indian origin teen in US wins honour for solar device

According to reports, fourteen-year-old Deepika Kurup of Indian origin won ‘America’s Young Scientist’ title on Tuesday.

Kurup, who lives in Nashua, Boston, won the prestigious award along with a cash prize of $25,000 for designing an affordable water purifier that runs on solar power.

She intends to use a part of her award to deploy her prototype in countries facing shortage of potable water such as India. Kurup’s parents hail from Trivandrum in Kerala.

Kurup, a Std IX student from Nashua high school, competed with nine other finalists in the ‘Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge’ and emerged as the winner after three rounds. The finalists were mentored by scientists at 3M for three months. “One of the challenges was to create prototypes using 3M products.

We were asked to come up with solutions to problems faced in the world. In this round, I designed a light-weight, non-inflammable spacecraft,” said Kurup. Her invention uses two chemicals – titanium oxide and zinc oxide – which, when hit by sunlight, undergo a chemical change producing hydroxyl radicals that can destroy certain bacteria. Her innovation harnesses solar energy to disinfect contaminated water.

Deepika’s mother, Meena Pradeep, said, “She read many research papers before designing the purifier. She has always good in academics and the captain of the Science and Math teams at school.” She met US President Barrack Obama during her stint at the 3M Innovation centre.

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