Energy Technology and Thermodynamics

Energy is a leading concern of our modern society, and Duke University, the Pratt School of Engineering and our department are significantly engaged in developing and enabling new energy sources and flows as well as improving the performance, sustainability and affordability of energy use.

Energy technology and thermodynamics research in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science focuses on:

  • Convection in porous media
  • Magnetic bearings
  • Melting and solidification
  • Natural convection
  • Second law of Thermodynamics analysis
  • Thermal design by entropy generation minimization
  • Tribology
  • Energy harvesting
  • Two-phase heat transfer
  • Technology evolution
  • Constructal law of design and evolution in nature
  • Energy conversion and storage

Examples of research projects include design with constructal theory; optimal distribution of cooling during gas compression; networks of channels for self-healing composite materials; magnetic suspension for the control of vibrations in rotating machinery; nonlinear behavior of a magnetic bearing system; propulsion and power generation at the micro scale; impurity diffusion mechanisms and point defects in silicon and III-V compounds; line defects; precipitation and gettering; kinetic processes of defect evolution; x-ray scattering and electron microscopy; development of new materials for photovoltaic energy conversion; and crystal growth in nano-scale.

Opportunities for Graduate Study

The department offers an M.S./Ph.D. study track in mechanical engineering with a core in thermal fluids with a focus on thermodynamics, fluid mechanics and transport phenomena.

The department also offers a program of study towards the Masters of Engineering (M.Eng) in Mechanical Engineering. This 30-credit degree program includes course work towards departmental requirements, an area of specialization, business and management fundamentals, and an internship or applied research experience. Students have the flexibility to focus on topics of thernodynamics, heat transfer, energy conversion device fabrication and analysis, and thermal and fluid systems relevant to preparation for an industrial career.

Faculty

Adrian Bejan

Adrian Bejan

J.A. Jones Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Research Interests: Professor Bejan's research covers a wide range of topics in thermodynamics, heat transfer, fluid mechanics, convection and porous media. More recently, he developed the constructal law of design in nature.

Chuan-Hua Chen

Chuan-Hua Chen

Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science

Research Interests: Our research deals with experimental and theoretical investigations of small-scale physicochemical hydrodynamics, where transport and interfacial phenomena closely interact with each other. By manipulating surface tension actively and passively, e.g. using electric fields and surface structures, we...

F. Hadley Cocks

F. Hadley Cocks

Professor with Tenure in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science

Research Interests: A wide variety of areas in materials science, including crystal growth, mechanical properties of kidney stones, lunar science, diffraction optics, materials for radiation detection, and radiation shielding.

Jeffrey Glass

Jeffrey Glass

Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Research Interests: Jeffrey T. Glass is a Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and is the Director of the Pratt School's Master of Engineering Management Program at Duke University. He also holds the Hogg Family endowed chair in Engineering Management and Entrepreneurship. Formerly, he...

Nico Hotz

Nico Hotz

Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science

Research Interests: My research interests are in the area of interfacial transport phenomena and thermodynamics in energy technology including phenomena at the micro- and nanoscale. Thermodynamics aspects of photovoltaics, novel sustainable energy conversion technologies, and chemical reactions are an essential part...

Laurens E. Howle

Laurens E. Howle

Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science

Research Interests: Hydroelastic modeling of deformable structures, transport in thermal and chemical systems, experimental and computational fluid dynamics, nonlinear and complex systems, heat and mass transport in biological systems, stability of fluid motions, machine learning, data mining, econophysics, reduced...

Josiah D. Knight

Josiah D. Knight

Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science

Research Interests: Fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, heat transfer, and dynamics

Brian Mann

Brian Mann

Jeffrey N. Vinik Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science

Research Interests: Nonlinear dynamics and vibration utilizing analytical, numerical, and experimental techniques. Fundamental investigations of phenomenon and application areas where dynamical systems theory plays an important role.

David Mitzi

David Mitzi

Simon Family Professor

Research Interests: Dr. Mitzi's current research interests involve making emerging photovoltaic materials more effective, cost-efficient and competitive for the energy market.

Walter Neal Simmons

Walter Neal Simmons

Gendell Family Associate Professor of the Practice

Teh Yu Tan

Teh Yu Tan

Professor Emeritus in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science

Research Interests: Impurity diffusion mechanisms and point defects in silicon and III-V compounds; line defects; precipitation and gettering; kinetic processes of defect evolution; x-ray scattering and electron microscopy; crystal growth in nano-scale

Benjamin Yellen

Benjamin Yellen

Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science

Research Interests: Our group currently has two main research activities. Project #1. Development of single cell random access memory. The goal of this project is to develop an automated system for reading and writing single cells (e.g., immune cells, yeast cells, etc.) to arbitrary sites on a micro fabricated chip...