Hu receives NSF CAREER Award to explore new thermal management materials

Mar 2, 2018

By UCLA Samueli Newsroom

Yongjie Hu, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, has received a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation, the agency’s highest honor for faculty members at the start of their research and teaching careers.

The five-year grant will support his research to characterize promising new thermal management materials that could dramatically improve heat dissipation in modern electronic and photonic devices.

As device components, such as semiconductors, continue to shrink down to nanoscale dimensions, removing associated heat from them has increasingly become a major hurdle to improve their performance. A class of new materials have been theoretically predicted to have excellent high thermal conductivity. But they have yet to undergo through experimental development and characterization.

This award will support Hu’s research into discovering such new thermal materials, finding their optimum growth conditions, investigating their structure and thermal properties, and understanding how the heat transfers thorough a spectra of phonons, which are quantum units of vibrational energy, similar to how a photon is a unit of light.

“It remains very challenging in the field to demonstrate some of the theoretically predicted novel materials and device concepts since an integral knowledge of thermal engineering, materials chemistry, and transport physics are required,” Hu said. “Our interdisciplinary approach aims to make innovations in experiments in conjunction with atomistic theories.”

This is the third major early career award for Hu, who joined UCLA in November 2014. He recently received the Young Investigator Award from U.S. Air Force and the New Investigator Award from the American Chemical Society.

Hu’s research group, H-Lab, is focused on understanding and engineering nanoscale transport phenomena and advanced materials. His group is also developing sensors and metamaterials based on novel 2D nanomaterials for applications in electronics, energy, biomedicine, and robotics. Hu earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University, and was a postdoctoral fellow at MIT.



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