Heat Transfer Research at the School of Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University

Heat transfer addresses the transport of energy due to conduction, convection and radiation and impacts nearly every area of industrial practice, including aerospace, automotive, biotechnology, chemical and materials processing, electronics, energy and environmental engineering, combustion, materials and manufacturing, and many others. Heat transfer research focuses on understanding, measuring and simulating thermal phenomena, exploiting these phenomena to design and manufacture efficient devices and systems and limiting the deleterious effects of high or low temperatures on system performance. 

Nanoengineering Laboratory
Research in the Nanoengineering Laboratory focuses on understanding fundamental nanoparticle interactions with the local radiative and molecular environments, and using the observed phenomena for a wide range of applications including nanoscale energy conversion systems and optical sensors. Research efforts for technological breakthroughs are often inspired by biological processes in nature. The effort includes design and fabrication of nanoparticles with molecular recognition domain, particularly using quantum dots, carbon nanotubes, and various biomaterials. The novel properties of these nanomaterials are exploited to study nanoscale energy and charge transfer processes, and to develop novel devices with new levels of system control at the nanoscale. Characterization techniques include absorption and photoluminescence spectroscopy ranging from UV to near-infrared, with an emphasis on fluorescent single nanoparticle imaging and spectroscopy. Additionally, spectro-electrochemistry and Raman spectroscopy are methods commonly used.

Biotransport Phenomena Laboratory
Biotransport phenomena are heat and mass transfer processes in biological and physiological systems. These are complex and multi-scale processes including thermal, mechanical, biological and chemical interactions. Moreover, recent developments of bionanotechnologies demand better understanding and control of transport processes of nanomaterials in biological systems. In order to address these challenges, Biotransport Phenomena Laboratory performs experimental and theoretical research to obtain quantitative knowledge of biotransport processes, and to control and facilitate the transport processes for innovative biomedical devices and technologies. Current research projects include thermal therapy and its image-guidance for cancer, drug delivery and its enhancement using nano-carriers, biopreservation of cell and tissue engineering products, and microfluidics for cell and tissue processing.

Heat Transfer in Laser Micro- and Nano-Processing and Manufacturing
The Center for Laser Micro-Fabrication at Purdue University carries out combined experimental and theoretical studies on laser-based manufacturing and materials processing at small length scales (micrometers to nanometers) and short time scales (nanoseconds to femtoseconds). Current research areas include energy transfer during ultrafast laser – matter interaction (an ultrafast laser is a laser with a pulse width less than 1 picosecond), ultrafast laser optical engineering, near-field nanoscale optical engineering, and micro- and nano-scale device development and fabrication. The Center has eight state-of-the-art laser systems including an ultrafast laser, an excimer laser, Nd:YLF/YAG/VA lasers, a fiber laser, an argon ion laser, and a CO2 laser, and two atomic force microscopes capable of near field scanning optical measurements. These experimental facilities together with parallel numerical simulation tools are being used for both fundamental (experimental and numerical) and applied research.

Advanced Cooling Technologies
Research in the area of high-performance compact cooling technologies for electronics as well as electronics packaging  is carried out  in the Cooling Technologies Research Center, an Industry/University Cooperative Research Center of the National Science Foundation.  The research is focused on the development of novel thermal microsystems,  understanding fundamental micro- and nano-scale thermal phenomena, materials processing as well as solidification and phase change.  Examples of recent research projects include microchannel transport, micropumps, electrowetting, microscale ion driven air flow, miniature piezoelectric fans, thin-film evaporation, and transport through foams and wick structures.

Nanoscale Transport Research Group
Research efforts in the Nanoscale Thermo-Fluids Laboratory include simulations and measurements of nanoscale heat transfer, coupled electro-thermal effects in semiconductor devices, nanoscale direct energy conversion, molecular electronics, microfluidic devices, hydrogen storage, and subcontinuum computational methods. Efforts include theoretical, computational, and experimental studies focused toward integration of nanoscale materials with bulk materials for enhancement of electrical, thermal, and mass transport properties. Applications of this work cover a broad range of areas, including nanoelectronics, thermal interface materials, thermal-electrical energy conversion, biosensors, and hydrogen storage. This work has also produced related studies of controlled synthesis of nanomaterials, particularly carbon nanotubes.

Computational Methods for Emerging Technologies
Research in the COMET laboratory focuses on the development of  numerical models and methodologies to address a wide variety of industrial applications, as well as emerging areas in nanotechnology. Research has focused on the development of  general purpose, broadly applicable  unstructured solution-adaptive computational techniques for fluid flow and heat transfer,  numerical methods for radiative transport, reduced-order modeling  and multiscale computational techniques spanning micro-, meso- and macro scales. Recent research has addressed  emerging ultra-scaled microelectronics,  novel CNT composite-based macroelectronics,  electro-thermal co-design of electronics, phase-change memory technologies, ultra-fast laser manufacturing,  as well as the fundamentals of nanoscale thermal and fluid transport. Research in this area has been supported by NSF, DARPA, DOE, the state of Indiana and industry.

Nano Thermo-Physical Engineering Laboratory
The behavior of any physical system can be related to atomic-scale description. With an atomic-level knowledge of the energy carrier (photon, electron, phonon, and fluid particle) characteristics and behaviors, one is able to move up to design nano- and micro-structures with the desired size effects, or to synthesize new materials with the desired functions. Research at the Nano Thermo-Physical Engineering Lab seeks to build and expand the understanding of the fundamentals of atomic-level carrier transport and interactions, and to apply this knowledge to important energy and information technologies. Current projects include the engineering of electron-phonon coupling in quantum dot solar cells, enhanced laser cooling of semiconductors and ion-doped solids, controlled thermal emission using modulated micro- and nano-structures, thermo-optical management of nano-lasers, etc.

The Hawkins Memorial Lecture Series