IAS / School of Engineering Joint Lecture

Practice Your Scales! Nanomaterials for Fast Energy Processes


The basic theories of energy and charge transport are a century old, yet classical and quantum size effects have been exploited usefully in practical materials only for the past two decades, and often with a modest level of success in practice. Many of the remaining challenges involve problems of time and length scales - e.g., faster energy transport processes enabled by new materials that can be manufactured responsibly and economically at human scales. Success in the large-scale adoption of nanomaterials, with their prevalence of interfaces, will likely depend on deeper fundamental understanding of both interfacial transport in assemblies of nanomaterials over wider time scales and high-throughput manufacturing processes over larger length scales in order to tune their performance and engineer them for desired properties in real applications. For example, individual carbon nanotubes possess extremely high axial thermal conductivity, yet when placed in a composite matrix, the effective thermal properties are quite ordinary. For high performance cooling applications, single-phase convection is a limited option because of its inability to dissipate ultra-high thermal loads, thus constraining the performance of the host system. With these challenges in mind, this presentation will consider how nanomaterials can be both synthesized and exploited at appropriate engineering scales and with ecological considerations in mind to improve the performance of practical thermal and energy storage technologies, particularly those requiring fast transient response. Carbon nanomaterials for use in fast-charging and discharging electrochemical energy storage devices offer particular promise as scalable, high-performance electrodes. Moreover, the microstructure of granular assemblies of battery cathode materials will be shown to have a profound effect on charge/discharge speed. As another example, a tunable cooling technology befitting fast transient thermal events will be described. In this system, the rapid depressurization of the working fluid triggers coincident flash boiling and desorption events, thereby achieving very high cooling rates for short periods of time. The presentation will close with a discussion of opportunities to realize cost-effective, large-scale production of some of these advanced materials from clean, direct solar energy.

About the Speaker

Prof. Timothy FISHER received his BS and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University in 1991 and 1998 respectively. He started his career in academia as an Assistant Professor at Vanderbilt University. He has also worked as a research scientist at the US Air Force Research Laboratory’s Thermal Sciences and Materials Branch of the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate. After spending 15 years at Purdue University where he held the James G. Dwyer Professorship in Mechanical Engineering, he joined UCLA in 2017 and is currently the John P. and Caludia H. Schauerman Endowed Chair in Engineering there. He has also served as the Co-Director of the Indo-US R&D Joint Networked Centre on Nanomaterials for Clean Energy and Environmental Sensors in 2016-2020, and Director of Center for Integrated Thermal Management of Aerospace Vehicles in 2014-2021.

Prof. Fisher is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and was a recipient of the US National Science Foundation’s CAREER Award. He is the Editor in Chief of ASME Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer.  He also served as specialty chief editor of Frontiers in Thermal and Mass Transport and is on the editorial boards for Frontiers in Nanoenergy Technologies and Materials as well as Energy Conversion & Management.

Prof. Fisher is a prolific writer, and he holds over 30 patents. He was elected International Thermal Conductivity Conference Fellow in 2017.  He has received many awards, including the IEEE ITherm Prof. Avram Bar-Cohen Best Paper Award in 2023 and the ASME Journal of Heat Transfer Best Reviewers Award in 2021.  

For Attendees' Attention

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