Yee Receives Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award

Shannon Yee in his lab

Assistant professor Shannon Yee has received an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award for his research project entitled “Switchable Organic Thermal Elements.” 

In this project, Yee will examine thermal transport processes in organic materials and the degree to which the thermal conductivity can by dynamically changed. This research could enable new forms of thermal regulations, which have application across the electronics cooling and thermal management domains. In this work, Dr. Yee proposes exploring three fundamental mechanisms, namely 1st and 2nd order phase transitions, and spatial and dynamic doping of organic dielectric polymers, as high potential routes to achieve large, solid-state thermal switching actuated on device-relevant time scales. The particular scientific interest of this work is to understand: (i) how vibrons (i.e., heat carriers in amorphous solids), namely propagons and diffusons, cross interfaces in organic materials, (ii) how propagon behavior changes within a single material that switches between being a monomer crystal to a polymer crystal, and (iii) how doping effects the vibronic, electronic, and ionic contributions to the thermal conductivity in organic materials. Through this effort Dr. Yee hopes to establish structure-property-processing relationships that can be used to control thermal transport functionality in organic materials.
Outcomes of this work include improved thermal characterization of organic materials, improved thermal metrology techniques well-suited for characterizing amorphous materials, and an assessment of capabilities enabled by dynamic, organic thermal switching elements. While it is difficult to quantify the direct impact that fundamental research will have across Department of Defense (DoD) capabilities, history suggests that thermal management will be an on-going technical challenge with the miniaturization of electronics for the DoD. Thermal transport in organic materials will grow over the next several decades as wearable electronics, light-weighting of autonomous vehicles, and polymeric-compounds in energy storage for DoD applications continue to grow. The total funding request from ONR for this project is $750k over three years; $500k for a two-year period with $250k for a third year.  
Yee is an Assistant Professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and has been a member of the faculty since 2013. Prof. Yee received his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California Berkeley (2013), his MS in Nuclear Engineering from The Ohio State University (2008), and his BS in Mechanical Engineering from The Ohio State University (2007). He currently holds a dual appointment as a Visiting Scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Lab. His recent honors include the  2017 American Society of Mechanical Engineers- Pi Tau Sigma (ASME-PTS) Gold Medal and a 2015 AFOSR Young Investigator award for his work on tunable thermal and thermoelectric materials. He was also the inaugural ARPA-E Fellow in 2010, where he helped start the agency, develop programs, and build the fellows program. In 2008 Yee was the recipient of the prestigious Hertz Fellowship. Prof. Yee’s research focuses on developing next generation energy technologies by exploring new ways of manipulating heat and creating energy conversion technologies that have the potential to impact electricity generation, heating and cooling, and energy efficiency. He is passionate about mentoring students and integrating technology, policy, and business.