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A nearly $200,000 National Science Foundation grant will fund continued Cornell research on theory-based calculations of how certain materials conduct heat, which could lead to better engineered materials and devices.
Derek Stewart, senior research associate with the Cornell NanoScale Science and Technology facility, received the grant in collaboration with David Broido, professor of physics at Boston College.
Accurate theoretical modeling of thermal transport in materials due to lattice vibrations is essential to numerous fields including microelectronics cooling, thermal barrier coatings and thermoelectronics.
At Cornell, researchers will focus on first-principles calculations of thermal conductivity in such crystalline materials as lead chalcogenides and certain classes of semiconductors, and also recently developed nanostructured semiconductor alloys that contain embedded nanoparticles.
The materials are characterized by their exceptionally low thermal conductivities, a key requirement for thermoelectric devices that convert heat into electricity. The planned studies should help provide insight into the underlying mechanisms for this low thermal conductivity and could identify ways to reduce it even further.
The research could eventually contribute to the development of new, highly efficient engineered materials.
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