RIT Works to Improve the Performance of Microsystems

Research aims to create better electronics, energy systems and medical devices

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New research being conducted at Rochester Institute of Technology could have a significant impact on the development of a host of microsystem applications, including fuel cells, biomedical microsystems and micro-propulsion devices. The effort will also shed new light on how surface roughness at the micro scale impacts fluid flow and heat transfer.

The Thermal Analysis, Microfluidics and Fuel Cell Laboratory at RIT is modeling and testing the operation of fluids in micro-scale devices to better understand how surface roughness within microchannels carrying the fluid can impact fluid flow and heat transfer.

The work could significantly enhance the productivity and efficiency of microscale devices and builds on previous studies conducted by the lab in the area of fluid flow. The National Science Foundation-funded project will involve undergraduate students as well as Ph.D. students over a three-year period.

“The properties that fluids exhibit at the microscale level are quite different than what is observed in normal sized environments,” explains Satish Kandlikar, director of the laboratory and the Gleason Professor of Mechanical Engineering at RIT. “Through this research we hope to better assess surface characteristics as they relate to fluid flow and heat transfer and use the information to build better microsystems, medical devices and electronics.”

The Thermal Analysis, Microfluidics and Fuel Cell Lab has earned national recognition for its research in the areas of microsystem development and fuel cell performance improvement. The lab’s current research efforts include partnerships with General Motors and the U.S. Department of Energy.