Depiction of inelastic phonon transmission at gold/water interface with corresponding resistors (including ITR) shown above.
Interfacial Thermal Resistance at Solid/Liquid Interfaces (2020-)

Increasing transistor densities and on-chip clockspeeds have yielded increasing thermal loads on modern integrated circuits (ICs), leading to a severe degradation in their performance. These higher thermal loads have spurred interest in two-phase cooling devices, where the objective has been to exploit and optimise the latent heat of vapourisation of the working fluid, thus extracting a significantly greater amount of heat from ICs. The performance of such devices is dictated by how efficiently heat can be transported across the solid/liquid and liquid/vapour interfaces. The interfacial thermal resistance (ITR) strongly influences the mechanisms by which heat is transferred at such interfaces and is therefore key to optimising the performance of these devices. The underlying mechanisms that lead to ITR have yet to be fully understood; existing literature attributes ITR to the the mismatch in the electronic and vibrational spectra of the materials forming the interface, which does not always hold.

The goal of this project is to gain a deeper understanding of the nanoscale physics involved and the role of surface characteristics in manipulating these physical phenomena to minimise ITR.

Researcher(s) involved: Abdullah, Rohit and Matthew

Macroscale ice adhesion to wind turbnes (left), microscale interface between wind turbine blade and ice (top right), nanoscale view of interface (bottom right).
Understanding Ice Adhesion at the Nanoscale (2022-)

Ice formation and accretion on surfaces can severely damage infrastructures such as highways, dams, and buildings or shorten their service lives; reduce the energy efficiency of wind turbines, and hinder the operational performance of instrumentation on aircraft, ships, and helicopters. In daily life in the winter, the icing on the pavement results in countless accidents that can potentially lead to a loss of life. Traditional de-icing methods include mechanical removal, surface-heating, and spraying chemicals. While mechanical and heating are energy-consuming, the chemicals are proven to be detrimental to the environment. Therefore, new de-icing methods, such as fabricating anti-icing surfaces, are expected to be developed to efficiently hinder ice formation. To achieve this, the underpinning physics of the ice adhesion needs to be better understood, whereby the ice adhesion strength on a substrate can be reduced and the ice can be effectively removed.

Researcher(s) involved: Pengxu, Saikat, Rohit and Matthew