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Thermally superconducting and superinsulating nanofluids and their use in nanodevices

Project Description

Nanotechnology is the forefront of a new industrial revolution. As the scale of new devices shrink, the design bottle-neck becomes getting rid of waste heat. Modern designs are limited by how fast heat can be removed or controlled. Nanofluids are one solution which attempt to improve the thermal conductivity of common heat transfer fluids, like water, by adding nanoparticles of metal or other high-conductivity solids. Unfortunately, predicting (and designing) the effect of nanoparticles on the base fluid has proven difficult [1]. The performance increases are dramatic, thus understanding the underlying mechanisms could potentially lead to entirely new applications of heat transfer.

We believe we have found that there are two new mechanisms for heat transfer in nanofluids (see Ref. [2]) which may explain the difficulties experienced in measuring and predicting the thermal conductivity of nanofluids. Our recent letter [2] is a study of simple/theoretical gas mixtures where we demonstrated that new unusual heat-transfer phenomena might exist in gas mixtures, such as super-conducting and super-insulating heat effects. To investigate these effects we are now turning to experimental studies. We’ve recently constructed a Transient Heated Wire test cell. This device is unique as it can conduct heat transfer measurements on gases at the timescale of microseconds and measure temperature changes in the order of millikelvin. This will be used to investigate thermal conductivity of mixtures and also new physical phenomena such as time-dependent effects.

The project here is to continue our experimental, theoretical, and computational work in this area. The student will be trained in each of these techniques and will be able to focus on the areas that play to their individual strengths. Computational fluid dynamics simulations, coupled with kinetic theory, will be used to design new nanodevices that exploit these effects. Experimental work on the Transient Heated Wire apparatus will attempt to prove the existence of the effects in real fluids and measure their magnitude. Molecular dynamics techniques are also available to simulate heat transfer at the nanoscale and to validate theoretical ideas for the nanofluid heat transfer mechanisms. There is scope for the student to construct their own scientific instruments which is a common activity within our group, as well as work with regional universities collaboratively on this project.

Candidates should have (or expect to achieve) a UK honours degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent) in chemical engineering, physics, chemistry, or a related field with essential knowledge of heat transfer, fluid dynamics, and programming. Any background in molecular dynamics, computational fluid dynamics, or experimental work in the area of heat transfer is highly desirable.


• Apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering
• State name of the lead supervisor as the Name of Proposed Supervisor
• State ‘Self-funded’ as Intended Source of Funding
• State the exact project title on the application form
When applying please ensure all required documents are attached:

• All degree certificates and transcripts (Undergraduate AND Postgraduate MSc-officially translated into English where necessary)
• Detailed CV

Informal inquiries can be made to Dr M Campbell Bannerman () with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. All general enquiries should be directed to the Postgraduate Research School ()

Funding Notes

Funding Notes

This project is advertised in relation to the research areas of the discipline of Chemical Engineering. The successful applicant will be expected to provide the funding for Tuition fees, living expenses and maintenance. Details of the cost of study can be found by visiting View Website. THERE IS NO FUNDING ATTACHED TO THIS PROJECT.


1. J. Eapen, R. Rusconi, R. Piazza, and S. Yip, “The classical nature of thermal conduction in nanofluids,” J. Heat Transfer, 132(10), 102402, (2010)
2. C. Moir, L. Lue, J. D. Gale, P. Raiteri, and M. N. Bannerman, “Anomalous heat transport in binary hard-sphere gases,” Phys. Rev. E, 99, 030102(R) (2019)

How good is research at Aberdeen University in General Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 38.60

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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