A panel has rejected allegations that a Purdue University nuclear engineer interfered with efforts to verify his claims of producing "tabletop fusion."
The internal university committee investigating the work of professor Rusi Taleyarkhan determined the evidence does not support the allegations of research misconduct and that no further investigation is needed, Purdue said in a statement Wednesday.
The university's vice president for research, Charles O. Rutledge, had appointed the committee last March after the British research journal Nature reported that some researchers had raised questions about Taleyarkhan's work.
Taleyarkhan led a team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee that reported in March 2002 in the journal Science that they had achieved nuclear fusion by collapsing bubbles in a solvent with powerful ultrasound vibrations. Their simple experiment stood in contrast to experimental nuclear fusion reactors that have to date required large, multibillion-dollar machines.
Since the 2002 report, scientists have been unable to reproduce those findings, though, and in the March report in Nature, some of Taleyarkhan's colleagues accused him of attempting to thwart their efforts to test his claims.
"Professor Taleyarkhan cooperated fully throughout the inquiry," Purdue spokesman Joseph L. Bennett said in the statement Wednesday. "Taleyarkhan is engaged in very promising, significant research, and we hope he will now be able to give his full attention to this important work."
Messages left Thursday at Taleyarkhan's Purdue office and e-mail were not immediately returned.
In an e-mail to the Journal & Courier of Lafayette, Taleyarkhan said the outcome of the internal investigation "offers vindication for what we've stood for and have stated all along about the science, our research, and the integrity with which we conduct, report and stand by our results and findings despite the intense attacks from detractors."