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ODU's Beskok Receives NSF Grant to Study Heat Transfer at the Nanoscale

Old Dominion University endowed professor Ali Beskok has received a $255,624 grant from the National Science Foundation to study heat transfer at the nanoscale.

Beskok's proposal, "Interface Resistance and Thermal Transport in Nano-Scale Confined Liquids" (NSCL) received a grant under NSF's Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems division, a subset of the Engineering Directorate.

The proposal was what's known as unsolicited, meaning that Beskok's research is so potentially revolutionary in its field that the NSF decided to award it a grant, despite not expressly asking for research proposals on this topic.

"On the nanoscale, heat transfer is one of the least studied areas," Beskok said.

Beskok, the Batten Professor of Computational Engineering with ODU's Aerospace Engineering department, says researchers need to find a fundamental understanding of the resistance that must be overcome at the solid-liquid interface within nanoscale conduits.

This could affect how nanofluids -- liquids containing nanoparticles that are meant to facilitate heat transfer and therefore improve cooling -- can operate in nanoscale circumstances. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter and the nanoscale extends from 1-100 nanometers.

Beskok and his post-doctoral associate, Bo Hung Kim, have proposed to develop molecular dynamics (MD) algorithms to simulate interface resistance between realistic surfaces and water.

"Utilization of water and surfaces, such as silicon, graphite, aluminum and gold, require substantial modifications of our MD algorithm, as well as the interactive wall model," Beskok said. "Therefore, the proposed research is not a trivial extension of the previous work."

The grant covers a three-year period starting January 1 of next year.

Beskok said completing the research successfully could create the boundary conditions in particulate flow algorithms to allow simulations for nanofluids, using physical dimensions that exceed models currently built, and using time scales that are outside the current MD simulations.

"This could potentially transform the scientific investigations, as well as engineering and industrial applications, of nanofluids," Beskok said.

The results will be disseminated through presentations, conference and journal publications. The MD code will be made available to the public through a Web site with a users' manual.

Beskok said the research will also continue to support the development of a new Ph.D track in micro- and nanofluidics in the Aerospace Engineering Department, and at the same time, broaden the research basis and experiences at the ODU Computational Engineering Research Cluster, which he leads.

"We are developing worldwide expertise, right here at ODU," Beskok said.

He was part of a team of ODU faculty members -- along with assistant professors of biological sciences Roland Cooper and David Gauthier; assistant professor of mechanical engineering Julie Hao; and assistant professor of aerospace engineering Shizhi Qian, the project leader - who received a $310,000 grant from the NSF earlier this month to purchase a new type of scanning probe microscope that can perform simultaneous multiple probes of unbelievably small samples.

Together, the NSF grants prove ODU's commitment to research and development at the nanoscale.

This article was posted on: August 19, 2009

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