The fascinating nature of nanoengineered materials has opened the door to novel approaches for conducting research in the field of nanoscale energy conversion and cooling technology. This project creates new fundamental knowledge about nanoscale radiative heat transfer, needed to solve pressing problems in energy harnessing, conversion and cooling. The ability to manipulate, suppress and tune the radiative properties of nanoscale objects becomes essential in diverse areas like solar and thermophotovoltaic energy conversion, waste heat recovery, and potential energy savings by radiative cooling. The characterization of low-cost, highly effective thermal nanomaterials is necessary for basic scientific thermal research and industrial production. Given the potential of these technologies, there is a need to attract talent and generate interest in young minds. The project establishes, supports, and nurtures an environment that encourages nanoengineering entrepreneurship and leadership and exposes high school students to small scale heat transfer technologies to get hands-on experience about nanomaterials and solve real-world societal and global energy challenges. Hands-on NanoEngineering workshops are to be conducted in partnership with local high schools to increase the quantity and quality of students, especially minorities and women.
This project aims to conduct a comprehensive study relevant to nanoscale radiative thermal transport due to photonic metamaterials in both far-field and near-field regimes. The objective of this project is to better understand the physics of radiative thermal transport at the nanometer scale, focusing mainly on thermal, optical and unique combinations of these properties of nanostructured materials. It includes three research tasks: (1) explore novel nanomaterials using computational methods and advanced spectroscopy techniques, (2) manipulate thermal radiative wavelength selectivity in near-field and far-field regimes, and (3) demonstrate photonic metamaterials-based thermophotovoltaic energy conversion and radiative cooling. The knowledge gap will be closed between nanoscale thermal transport and radiative wavelength selectivity which attributes to the enhanced thermal infrared energy harvesting, conversion, and photon-based cooling, both necessitate exploring interdisciplinary engineering discoveries and approaches when these technologies in the areas of thermal transport processes and nanoengineering are combined to function as an integrative energy system.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.