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2016 David Goodwin Memorial Lecture

Thursday, May 5, 2016
4:00pm to 5:00pm
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Gates-Thomas 135
“Materials and Devices for Efficient Solar and Thermal Energy Utilization”
Gang Chen, Department Chair and Carl Richard Soderberg Professor of Power Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
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. I 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. I 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, I 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 close by introducing a new steam generation approach that allows us to boil water under one Sun in ambient condition.
For more information, please contact Sonya Lincoln by phone at 626-395-3385 or by email at lincolns@caltech.edu or visit Goodwin Memorial Lecture.