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January 13, 2005


Dr. Gang Chen
Mechanical Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
"Nanoscale Heat Transfer and Energy Conversion"

Abstract. Heat transfer in nanostructures differs significantly from that in macrostructures because of classical and quantum size effects on phonons, electrons, and photons.  Understanding thermal transport in nanostructures is of fundamental importance to a variety of technologies.  For example, low thermal conductivity materials with good electrical properties are required in solid-state refrigerators and power generators for high energy-conversion efficiency.  Size effects on phonon transport in nanostructures can be utilized to engineer new devices with improved energy conversion efficiency.  This talk will start with a review of various nanoscale heat transfer phenomena, followed by discussion of phonon heat conduction in superlattice systems.  Some possible approaches to engineer phonon transport in nanostructures will be illustrated, with application geared towards improving the efficiency of thermoelectric energy conversion devices.  Recent work on engineering photon transport for thermophotovoltaic energy conversion will also be briefly introduced. 

Vanderbilt University