Carnegie Mellon University

Yuanhao Li

August 24, 2021

Li Discusses Role of Fin Structures in Heat Transfer

What role do nanoscale fins (nanofins) play in heat transfer at the material interface? This is a question that PhD candidate Yuanhao Li and Assistant Professor Gerald Wang are looking to answer.

“My research focuses on Nanoscale fluid flow and heat transfer physics,” he says. “It also addresses the uncertainty [of] quantifying for transport phenomena in molecular simulations, machine learning, and nanoscale physics.”

He adds that most engineers are familiar with the role of fin structures in heat transfer at a larger scale. The transfer coefficient is improved by the fins, which produce more contact area. But Li’s research dug deeper to better understand how this works at the nanoscale level.

Li discovered that nanoscale fins induced significant fluid structuring effects and anomalous fluid diffusion at the fluid-solid interface. “We showed that the magnitudes of these effects can be accurately captured using recently developed models,” he adds.

He says that the work will have potential applications in nanoscale energy storage and conversion—including thermoelectric energy conversion devices and micro/nanoelectronics cooling. And Li admits that he encountered some surprises while reviewing the research. “[The results of our] differ in several ways from the results of classical fin theory, in part due to fluid layering effects.”

Li believes that his work will provide a novel approach to build an atomistic model of heat and mass transport at the solid-fluid interface, taking advantage of the auto-correlation functions.

He specifically mentions that the mentorship of Professor Wang as well as his mix of CEE, Physics, and Mechanical Engineering coursework has been extremely beneficial. “[My classes in] Molecular Simulation of Materials, Numerical Methods in Engineering Statistical Mechanics and Heat Transfer have helped me a lot in this research.”