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Hwang earns five-year, $625K NSF CAREER award

Jinwoo Hwang, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, has received a five-year, $625,000 Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation for his research on thermal conduction in materials.

Jinwoo Hwang and his research teamAsst. Prof. Jinwoo Hwang (center) with members of his research team. From left, graduate research associates Menglin Zhu and Jared Johnson. The CAREER award is the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious award in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of both.

According to Hwang, it is critical to understand heat transport through various interfaces within a material in order to control thermal conduction. For a broad range of electronic, photonic, and energy-harvesting materials, thermal interface resistance (TIR) can affect the materials' performance and stability.

“However, it is often challenging to identify the exact origin of TIR,” he said, “since there has been no method of measuring it directly at the interface.”

Hwang and his team at the Center for Electron Microscopy and Analysis (CEMAS) have developed a novel technique that uses a small electron probe to directly measure the temperature at the interface with near atomic scale resolution and determine TIR with unprecedented precision.

This new approach will transform the thermal engineering of materials through better understanding of TIR, including how it’s affected by atomic scale structure and defects at the interface, verification of existing theories and simulation results on how to reduce it, and new material design rules on how to control it.

This project integrates the education and outreach activities for underrepresented students to provide them with opportunities to engage with researchers and help them potentially pursue advanced degrees or careers in science and engineering. The team also will develop accommodation technologies to enable people with disabilities to actively participate in processing and analysis of scientific data.

Hwang earned his PhD in materials science in 2011 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Prior to joining Ohio State faculty in 2014, he spent three years as a postdoctoral researcher at UC Santa Barbara.

Contributions from the Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering