An Arizona State University engineer has been awarded a grant from the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research for nanoscale heat transfer research that could help improve thermoelectric devices and thermal barrier coatings. An assistant professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering at ASU’s School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, Robert Wang was awarded a grant of close to $360,000 for his work in thermal energy and nanomaterials.
According to Wang, as part of his current research, nanoparticles with specific size, shape and composition characteristics are used in particle-matrix composites to evaluate their performance in a variety of thermal energy applications. Wang is reportedly using a decomposition process “to produce a semiconductor matrix with nanoparticles in the composite.”
“What we are doing for the Air Force project is taking the particles and mixing them with a chemical precursor that, when it decomposes, turns into a semiconductor,” Wang said.
Wang plans to use phonon spectroscopy to “isolate single frequencies and determine what size and shape of nanoparticle most efficiently scatters certain phonons” in order to better understand the effects of nanoparticles in lowering conductivity. He added that previous research has proven that thermal conductivity can be lowered either by suspending nanoparticles in certain materials or by using materials that contain “atomic-scale impurities.”
A second Arizona State University researcher, Kiran Solanki, was awarded an Air Force grant of more than $346,000 for research related to how the “ratios of solute to base metals affect the performance of metal alloys, and how atomic-scale impurities affect the resiliency and strength of materials to be used in advanced technologies.”
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