Light, Energy, and Heat

Almost all modern technology is enabled either directly or indirectly by the balance of energy into and out of the system. This energy can be in the form of heat, light, or electricity. Research efforts in this direction broadly focus on new materials, devices, and systems that can harness control over these forms of energy.

Some specific research efforts in the department include new materials and systems to store electrical energy, the study of combustion processes to improve the energy efficiency of energy conversion, the design of metamaterials that can modulate the interaction of light and heat with surfaces, and the study of heat transfer through novel materials and systems that are important to energy consuming technologies. Graduate students who work in this area are exposed to an environment that commonly engages core mechanical engineering preparation with multidisciplinary approaches toward technology development often combining concepts of nanoscience, optics, and/or chemistry. Many faculty in this area are closely associated with the Vanderbilt Institute of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (VINSE), which houses state-of-the-art clean room and imaging facilities in the newly constructed Engineering and Science Building.