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Title: Materials and Devices for Efficient Solar and Thermal Energy Utilization
Originating Office: IAS
Speaker: Chen, Gang
Issue Date: 12-Jan-2015
Event Date: 12-Jan-2015
Group/Series/Folder: Record Group 8.15 - Institute for Advanced Study
Series 3 - Audio-visual Materials
Location: 8.15:3 EF
Notes: IAS distinguished lecture.
Title from opening screen.
Abstract: This talk will start with a big picture review on grand challenges we face, and move on to discuss opportunities in taking fundamental understanding in micro/nanoscale transport to develop better materials and devices for thermal and solar energy utilization. One example is thermoelectric energy conversion. The speaker will discuss progress in advancing fundamental understanding of phonon and electron transport, designing and synthesizing new and improved materials, and building devices for improving the efficiency of solar and thermal energy conversion to electricity. He will then introduce a thermogalvonic regenerative cycle which converts heat into electricity at relatively high efficiencies using batteries and low-grade heat sources, emphasizing philosophical differences in thermoelectric and thermogalvonic energy conversion technologies: one based on spatial and the other on temporal thermodynamic cycles. Along a different direction, he will discuss how to exploit transport physics in low- dimensional systems to turn polymers from a poor heat conductor to a good heat conductor, and our effort in developing scalable manufacturing processes for highly thermally conductivity polymers. The talk will then move on to present the speaker's work on solar energy utilization including a new steam generation approach and a combine solar thermal and PV system, and close with a discussion on water challenges in the water-energy nex.
Prof Gang Chen received his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley in 1993. He was faculty at Duke University from 1993 to 1997 and at the University of California at Los Angeles from 1997 to 2001. He joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2001, and is currently Carl Richard Soderberg Professor of Power Engineering.
Prof Chen’s research interests focus on nanoscale transport and energy conversion phenomena, and their applications in energy storage and conversion, and thermal management. He has made important contributions to the understanding of reduced thermal conductivity in nanostructures structures such as quantum wells and superlattices via both modeling and experimental studies. He and his collaborators exploited the unique nanoscale heat conduction physics to advance the field of thermoelectric materials and their applications in solar thermal and waste heat recovery. His group also developed strategies to engineer nanostructures to achieve high thermal conductivities, including the development and demonstration that polymer nanofibers can be more thermally conductive than most metals, and additives to liquids which significantly improve their thermal conductivity. In addition to nanoscale heat conduction and nanostructured thermoelectrics, Prof Chen’s research group also advanced the field of thermal radiation, including developing a method to measure radiation heat transfer between two surfaces down to nanometer separations and experimental demonstration that it can exceed predictions of the Planck’s blackbody radiation law by three orders of magnitude, and photon trapping in solar photovoltaic cells. By exploring micro/nanoscale transport phenomena, the research group is advancing a wide range of technologies such as thermoelectric cooling and power generation, solar thermal and solar photovoltaics, desalination, and thermal interface materials.
Prof Chen received numerous awards including the NSF Young Investigator Award, the R&D 100 Award, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ Heat Transfer Memorial Award, etc. He is a Member of the US National Academy of Engineering, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Physical Society and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
Duration: 68 min.
Appears in Series:8.15:3 - Audio-visual Materials
Videos for Public -- Distinguished Lectures