Senior Theses

Publication Date


Document Type

Thesis (Open Access)

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Physics



Faculty Advisor(s)

William Mackie (Thesis Advisor)
Joelle Murray & Tianbao Xie (Committee Members)

Subject Categories

Engineering Physics | Materials Science and Engineering | Physics | Power and Energy | Semiconductor and Optical Materials


This paper explores the relationship between the operating temperature and electricity production of a simple heat engine. A Stirling engine was designed and constructed which runs on solar thermal energy collected by a Fresnel lens. The surface area of the solar collector was varied. This manipulated the operating temperature of the Stirling engine in order to measure power output. The mechanical energy from the engine was converted to electricity using a DC motor running in reverse, acting like a generator, in conjunction with an Arduino for data collection. Although adjustments must be made in order to improve the efficiency of the system, the data show a significant increase in power output in relation to thermal energy around the temperature range of 120-160C.