Heat transfer between materials is focus of new research grant

Apr 30, 2008

Managing heat is a major challenge for engineers who work on devices from jet engines to personal electronics to nano-scale transistors.

A team led by a University of Michigan mechanical engineer has received a five-year, $6.8-million grant from the Air Force to examine this problem, which is a barrier to more powerful, efficient devices.

Led by Kevin Pipe, an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, the team has received a Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) award from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. The research group includes nine scientists and engineers from three universities, including Brown University and the University of California at Santa Cruz.

"The processes by which heat is transferred at interfaces between different materials are poorly understood," Pipe said. "But in many systems, the ability to either efficiently transfer or block heat flow from one material to another is critically important to performance and reliability."

Inefficient heat flow is a main roadblock in the development of lasers and transistors that can attain higher powers. On the other hand, blocking heat exchange can dramatically improve the efficiency of thermoelectric energy conversion for compact power sources.

Pipe's group will use ultrafast lasers in a special X-ray technique developed by David Reis, a team member and associate professor in Physics at U-M. The technique allows researchers to actually watch the vibrations of the atoms that carry heat energy across an interface.

Using nanotechnology, Pipe and his colleagues will reengineer the surfaces of materials to regulate the flow of heat.

"A broad range of military and commercial applications stand to benefit from thermal interface control, including heat sinks for high-power electronics, thermal barrier coatings for aerospace components, and thermoelectric materials for power generation," Pipe said.

In addition to Pipe, the U-M team includes materials science and engineering professors Rachel Goldman and John Kieffer, and assistant professor Max Shtein, as well as physics professor Roberto Merlin and associate professor David Reis. Other members of the team include physics professor Humphrey Maris and engineering professor Arto Nurmikko of Brown University and electrical engineering associate professor Ali Shakouri of U-C Santa Cruz.

The Air Force MURI program is designed to focus on large multidisciplinary topic areas that intersect more than one traditional discipline, bringing together scientists and engineers with different backgrounds to accelerate both basic research and transition to application.

Source: University of Michigan

Explore further: Researchers cradle silver nanoclusters inside synthetic DNA to create a programmed, tunable fluorescent array

Related Stories

OrangeSec pair said Cortana visited Android

1 hour ago

Can, did, Cortana work on Android? A talked-about act at droidcon 2015: a presentation titled "Cracking Cortana." The OrangeSec team arrived at the Turin, Italy, event to show their work in a CortanaProxy ...

Mercury MESSENGER nears epic mission end

3 hours ago

A spacecraft that carries a sensor built at the University of Michigan is about to crash into the planet closest to the sun—just as NASA intended.

DOJ, FBI acknowledge flawed testimony from unit

4 hours ago

The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in the FBI Laboratory's microscopic hair comparison unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against ...

Dawn glimpses Ceres' north pole

4 hours ago

After spending more than a month in orbit on the dark side of dwarf planet Ceres, NASA's Dawn spacecraft has captured several views of the sunlit north pole of this intriguing world. These images were taken ...

Recommended for you

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

E_L_Earnhardt
not rated yet May 01, 2008
Also give some thought to heat transfer within the human/animal body! One theory of cancer cause and spread is the failure to transfer heat energy between cells. Cancer is energy caused.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.