Improving the measurement signal of electrochemical sensors allows for the detection of very low chemical concentrations. Our lab explores sensor architectures that facilitate efficient chemical detection, including high aspect ratio structures made from carbon nanotubes. Exploiting massively parallel arrays of microchannels enable efficient sensing by providing a significant increase in surface area and allow for the chemical solution (reactants and products) to flow through the sensor. You can listen to an application of this work for cancer detection on the "Top of the Mind" radio program with Julie Rose (link).
Origami for Control of Radiative Heat Transfer
Origami-inspired, cavity effect surfaces have the potential to significantly affect thermal control when radiative heat transfer is the dominant transport mechanism. Dynamic control of surface properties by topography manipulation enables the flexibility needed to respond to dynamic changes in operating or environmental conditions. We explore the use of origami surfaces to control heat transfer in thermal management. The Flux Lab supports the work conducted as a part of the Spacecraft Group at BYU. We have contributed to the design and thermal analysis of BYU's first CubeSat. See the YouTube link about the operation of this CubeSat here. We also help sponsor the competitions and trainings associated with the club.
Phase Change at Superhydrophobic Surfaces
Superhydrophobic surfaces have the potential to improve heat transfer rates when used as a condensing surface. Condensation is used in a variety of commercial applications, including power generation, desalination, atmospheric water harvesting, and air conditioning. Superhydrophobic surfaces promote drop-wise condensation and increased droplet mobility for removal of condensate, and even allows for coalescing droplets to spontaneously drop from the surface due to the release of surface energy. Build up of condensate on a surface serves as a barrier to heat transfer, so removal of condensation or delay of condensate buildup can increase the efficiency of condensing systems. Watch a video of dropwise condensation with jumping droplets from our work here.
Thermal Gradient Gas Chromatography
We explore the effect that temperature control can have on chemical separations in gas chromatography. As a part of a broader team involving researchers from chemistry, electrical engineering, and statistics, our role is to predict spatially and temporally varying temperature profiles of gas flows in micro channels to understand potential improvements that an imposed temperature gradient can have in gas separation. We also establish experimental test conditions for verification of our models and to demonstrate performance. This study is expected to enable rapid, portable analyzers in detecting chemical threats, space exploration, medical services, or drug detection.
Hybrid Power Production
This study addresses the viability of integrating Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) with coal-fired power plants in a hybrid power plant to reduce carbon emissions. A general plant model is used with heating of the working fluid augmented by integration of solar energy. For existing coal or natural gas combined cycle power plants in UT, it has been shown that 1.4 GWe of power could be created through solar-augmentation (neglecting sites that have only fair potential). Outcomes of this work will (1) illustrate the amount of pollution that can be offset for different percentages of solar augmentation and (2) identify appropriate integration points and operating conditions for solar heating.