My research interest is in the development of materials and structures for sensing, actuation and energy transfer applications. This work currently focusses on two areas:
1. The deposition of ZnO thin films and structures. This semiconductor material has a range of interesting properties which makes it a candidate for diverse applications such as UV detectors, ultrasound transducers and vibration energy harvesters.
2. The fabrication of microstructured surface layers for enhancement of phase change heat transfer. These surface layers have the ability to dramatically enhance heat transfer during processes such as boiling, evaporation and condensation and thus produce more efficient energy systems. Fabrication and device integration of these surfaces are being investigated for use in two phase cooling systems for electronics or thermal energy harvesters.
In the past I have also been involved in the development of various sensor and instrumentation systems such as geophysical and chemical sensor systems.
Potential PhD Projects
A number of potential PhD projects are available in the area of microstructured materials for sensors or energy applications. Some examples of these projects are:
1. Microstructured surfaces for phase change enhancement and heat transfer enhancement.
The use of microstructured surfaces have been shown by many workers to be able to enhance heat transfer during phase change processes such as boiling, evaporation and condensation. This project will study the impact of microstructured silver surfaces as an aid in enhancing boiling and evaporation. It will fabricate surface with different wettability and measure the heat transfer associated with these processes in order to link factors such as microstructure and surface chemistry to the observed wettability and heat transfer rates.
2. Heat flow during drop impact and evaporation
In many industrial processes such as spray cooling or spray drying, the evaporation of small droplets is a critical process step. This project will look at the heat transfer process as sub-millimetre sized drops impacts on a solid surface. It will particularly focus on the use of methods such as luminescence and/or IR thermometry to obtain a measure of drop impact and heat transfer on different surface types.
3. Use of nano- and microparticles for producing porous ceramics.
In many instances in the production of industrial ceramics it is advantages that the ceramic contains pores or voids with a specific alignment. This project studies the use of nanoparticles and rods by means of magnetic alignment in order to create piezoelectric ceramics with superior properties. It will firstly study the experimental conditions needed for nanoparticle manipulation and alignment and then attempt to produce ceramics with an idealised pore structure.
Applying for a PhD
Candidates are expected to have obtained a good First Class Honours degree in an area such as Electronic Engineering, Physics or Material Science. In addition, a Masters degree in a similar field is preferred. A strong interest in microfabrication and hands-on experience in the design, construction implementation of scientific instrumentation will be of benefit. A small number of PhD scholarships (consisting of a tax free stipend of around $23 000 per year in addition to university fees) is competitively available to oustanding applicants.
If you are interested in applying for a PhD position please contact me by email and include a CV, all transcripts of previous studies as well as copies of your academic writing. Also have a look at the VUW guide to the PhD application process.
For a list of my recent publications, please see the Publications Database