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MEAM Seminar: “Architected Nanoscale Plates for Thermionic Energy Conversion and Relativistic Interstellar Travel”

December 14 at 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM

Architected plates feature geometrical patterns that provide advantageous mechanical properties, such as an enhanced bending stiffness or a reduced tendency to tear. In this talk I will introduce our research group’s multiscale hexagonally patterned corrugated plates, which have nano-scale film thicknesses, micron-scale total heights, and square-centimeter-scale lateral area dimensions. I will first explain how we use these plates in direct thermionic heat-to-electricity generators and show that new corrugation modalities provide several-fold reductions in the plates’ thermal conductivity, leading to greater device efficiency. I will then show that our plates can be tailored to become ultra-reflective membranes for photon-propelled space travel near the speed of light, and explain mechanical guidelines for the design of relativistic light sails.

Matthew F. Campbell

Postdoctoral Scholar, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Matthew Campbell is a professionally licensed mechanical engineer who solves problems by designing novel micro- and nano-fabricated devices and systems. He is particularly interested in establishing interdisciplinary collaborations with subject matter experts in nontraditional fields, such as aerospace engineering and medical science, to produce unique and transformative results. Matt enjoys working with engineers of all experience levels, from mentoring undergraduate researchers to partnering with scientists at startup companies. He has been a postdoctoral researcher at Penn since 2019, prior to which he worked at a nonprofit organization in the Philippines and at Sandia National Laboratories in California. He studied mechanical engineering at Stanford and Duke. In his free time, he enjoys running, baking, and playing with his two children.


December 14
10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
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Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics