Department of Mechanical Engineering
Kenneth E. Goodson
The most innovative energy conversion technologies, ranging from solar and thermoelectrics to lasers (which convert electric energy to light), are benefitting from nanostructures and/or nanostructured materials. Thermal phenomena play a central role in the performance and reliability of devices based on these technologies, and we are collaborating with multiple groups on the characterization of related transport physics and properties.
Recent progress has addressed thermal phenomena in quantum well laser nanostructures, in which electron confinement enables efficient optical devices in silicon for compatibility with conventional IC circuits. Power absorption in these nanostructures strongly degrades their power emission capabilities and motivates our recent measurements of thermal and optical properties. Additional work is focused on the thermal and thermoelectric properties of nanowires and nanowire films, with a focus on those made from zinc oxide (ZnO) because of this material's broad range of applications including thermoelectrics and photovoltaics. This work determines the effective thermal conductivity in the direction normal to ZnO NW films using electrical and optical methods.