Nanoscience and Engineering

The objectives of our research have been to investigate the unusual properties of nanomaterials (materials with extremely small structures). Examples of these very small structures include nanowires, nanoscale thin films, nanoscale heterostructures, etc. The property that we are particularly interested in is how well or how poorly these very small structures can conduct heat, that is, their thermal conductivity. Measuring thermal conductivity of very small structures can be quite difficult, and our main approach has been to study this subject by computerized modeling and simulation. Recently, we have acquired a Scanning Probe Microscope (SPM), which can be used to measure thermal conductivity on the surface of a material with very high resolution. The purpose of our study is to help engineers understand the thermal properties of nanomaterials, which in turn will help them with nanoscale device design. This research is led by Dr. Zou.