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

Gaurav Arya

Gaurav Arya

Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science

Research Interests: Molecular modeling, molecular simulations, statistical mechanics, coarse-graining, machine learning, polymer and colloidal physics, polymer-nanoparticle composites, chromatin biophysics, DNA nanotechnology, viral DNA packaging, single-molecule force spectroscopy, nanoscale...

Adrian Bejan

Adrian Bejan

J.A. Jones Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Research Interests: Thermodynamics, applied physics, life & evolution in nature, constructal law.

Chuan-Hua Chen

Chuan-Hua Chen

Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science

Research Interests: Experimental and theoretical research coupling physicochemical hydrodynamics with interfacial engineering

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.

Olivier Delaire

Olivier Delaire

Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science

Research Interests: Olivier Delaire is an expert in the field of atomic dynamics in materials, with 15-plus years of experience in both experimental and computational studies of lattice dynamics (phonons).

Jeffrey Glass

Jeffrey Glass

Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Research Interests: Electronic materials and the associated devices/instruments improved by these materials, especially electrode applications in miniature mass spectrometry, energy conversion and storage and liquid waste disinfection for developing regions. Electrochemical measurements and...

Nico Hotz

Nico Hotz

Assistant Professor of the Practice in the Department of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science

Research Interests: 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 of my research. My...

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,...

Po-Chun Hsu

Po-Chun Hsu

Visiting Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Sci

Research Interests: Smart multifunctional textiles, camouflage fabrics, stimuli-responsive polymer, wearable electronics, photon management, radiation heat transfer, solar desalination and water harvesting, electrochemical devices, electrospinning and fiber fabrication

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

Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and 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: 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

Benjamin Yellen

Benjamin Yellen

Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science

Research Interests: Development of single cell analysis tools using magnetic circuits, and multiparticle assembly of colloidal crystals