Graduate Student Wins NASA Fellowship

Oct. 4, 2019 - Graduate student Jonathan Sullivan has been awarded a NASA Fellowship in support of his research to develop multifunctional radiative cooling materials for high-speed flight or space vehicles. NASA selected 19 fellows from 130 proposals. Sullivan will receive annual funding of $55,000 for three years.

Sullivan is earning his doctorate in mechanical and aerospace engineering under the advisement of Jaeho Lee, assistant professor, who will serve as principal investigator on the project.

According to Sullivan, heat management in high-temperature aerospace systems is a tremendous challenge, and the inability to effectively cool components can significantly limit both system design and performance. In high temperature or extreme thermal environments − such as high-speed flight or in the vacuum of space − radiation heat transfer can become the core mechanism for rejecting heat from the vehicle. Thus, increasing the amount of thermal radiation emitted by the vehicle’s surface is crucial to improving thermal management.

Sullivan’s objective is to develop multifunctional radiative cooling materials based on nanotextured micro-pyramids. “Based on how we adapt the design of the microstructures, we can not only enhance how much heat is rejected via radiation, but we can also cater material design for mission-specific temperatures and environmental conditions,” explained Sullivan. “This adaptive design process enables us to optimize the radiative heat-transfer characteristics of common metals and alloys used in aerospace systems.” 

The NASA fellows research training grants are designed to support independently conceived research or senior design projects by highly qualified graduate students, in disciplines needed to help advance NASA’s missions.  NASA strongly encouraged the submission of applications from Minority-Serving Institutions, historically underrepresented groups and underserved populations.

– Lori Brandt



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