DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office grants these awards annually to junior faculty conducting research in the areas of the physical sciences, engineering and mathematics. The objective of the DARPA Young Faculty Award program is to identify and engage rising research stars in junior faculty positions at U.S. academic institutions and expose them to Department of Defense needs and DARPA’s program development process.
Varanasi will use his award to focus on developing novel nanoengineered surface technology-enabled thermal-fluid systems for ultra-high-heat flux thermal management, which could impact multiple industries spanning electronics and photonics, energy, water, agriculture and transportation. For example, the performance of electronic and photonic systems is limited by the ability to remove heat from these devices. A crucial challenge in thermal management is removing heat from the device while maintaining acceptable component operating temperatures.
Over the years, significant advances have been made in microelectronics, power electronics, photonics and optoelectronics for both military and commercial applications. Thermal management of these systems, however, has trailed behind and is becoming a critical bottleneck in the development of the next generation of electronic systems. The innovations from this research could alter the thermal-fluid-surface interactions in a way that dramatically enhances the performance of such systems.
Furthermore, these technologies could be used to address similar challenges in other industries such as energy (solar and conventional), water, oil and gas, and transportation.