Nano scale to megascale thermal engineering: A path to sustainable energy by Dr Bikram Bhatia

Location and Date: 
Wednesday, January 16st, 2018, 4:00 pm, Seminar Hall, Second Floor, DESE-CESE Building


Heat transfer processes serve as the backbone of our energy systems. The key to efficient, sustainable energy conversion relies on delivering heat at a higher temperature, rejecting heat at a lower temperature and utilizing renewable energy resources to do so. In this presentation, I will present our work on multiscale engineering of thermal processes to achieve high-efficiency energy conversion from ambient sources including waste heat, the sun and low-temperature upper atmosphere. Specifically, I will demonstrate how careful nanostructure control allowed to us to develop thermally insulating silica aerogels with record-high solar-transparency, which has led to significant improvements in solar-to-thermal energy conversion efficiency. Additionally, I will present a novel directional approach to achieving passive cooling below ambient temperature using commonly available materials by exploiting the high transparency of earth’s atmosphere in mid-infrared wavelengths and the angular confinement of the sun. These advances in thermal engineering, from the nanoscale to macroscale, offer compelling solutions to the problems of waste heat harvesting, solar-thermal energy conversion and solid-state cooling – significant challenges on our path towards a sustainable energy future.


Bikram Bhatia is a research scientist in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His current research focuses on solar-thermal energy conversion systems for concentrated solar power and radiative cooling applications. Prior to that, he investigated waste heat harvesting in nanoscale pyroelectric films during his graduate studies. Bikram received his B.Tech. from the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati in 2008, and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign in 2014.