Understanding and manipulating thermal transport in various materials are essential to intentionally design energy-efficient devices and systems while limiting deleterious effects of adverse temperatures on system performance. Nanoengineering offers unique opportunities to achieve unprecedented material properties. It also poses challenges on the scientific understanding because of the intrinsic differences between energy transport processes at the nanoscale and macroscale due to quantum and classical size effects. The overarching goal of my research is to fundamentally understand nanoscale thermal transport and energy conversion processes to enable the design and discovery of materials with desired thermal transport properties for thermal management and energy conversion. My research group leverages a rich set of cutting-edge modeling and experimental techniques including density functional theory, molecular dynamics, Green’s function, time-domain thermoreflectance, transient thermal grating, and inelastic x-ray scattering. In this talk, I will present my research group’s efforts to improve the energy conversion efficiency of inorganic, organic, and hybrid thermoelectric materials as well as thermoelectric devices. I will also illustrate two novel phenomena we recently discovered in polymers – thermal rectification and thermal switching, which lays the groundwork for organic thermal diodes and switches.
BIO Sketch | Dr. Zhiting Tian became as an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering in 2014. She is also an affiliated faculty member of Macromolecules Innovation Institute at Virginia Tech. She obtained her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at MIT in 2014.
Zhiting’s most recent awards include Office of Naval Research (ONR) Young Investigator Award, NSF CAREER Award, ACS Petroleum Research Fund Doctoral New Investigator Award, 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award, and Virginia Tech College of Engineering Faculty Fellow. Zhiting will join the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Cornell University in July 2018.