Date of Award

August 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Shalabh Maroo

Second Advisor

Ashok Sangani


Cooling Devices, Evaporation of droplets, Heat Transfer, Molecular Dynamics, Nano scale, Passive Flow

Subject Categories



High heat flux removal is a challenging problem in boilers, electronics cooling, concentrated photovoltaic and other power conversion devices. Heat transfer by phase change is one of the most efficient mechanisms for removing heat from a solid surface. Futuristic electronic devices are expected to generate more than 1000 W/cm2 of heat. Despite the advancements in microscale and nanoscale manufacturing, the maximum passive heat flux removal has been ~300 W/cm2 in pool boiling. Such limitations can be overcome by developing nanoscale thin-film evaporation based devices, which however require a better understanding of surface interactions and liquid vapor phase change process. Evaporation based passive flow is an inspiration from the transpiration process that happens in trees. If we can mimic this process and develop heat removal devices, then we can develop efficient cooling devices. The existing passive flow based cooling devices still needs improvement to meet the future demands. To improve the efficiency and capacity of these devices, we need to explore and quantify the passive flow happening at nanoscales. Experimental techniques have not advanced enough to study these fundamental phenomena at the nanoscale, an alternative method is to perform theoretical study at nanoscales.

Molecular dynamics (MD) simulation is a widely accepted powerful tool for studying a range of fundamental and engineering problems. MD simulations can be utilized to study the passive flow mechanism and heat transfer due to it. To study passive flow using MD, apart from the conventional methods available in MD, we need to have methods to simulate the heat transfer between solid and liquid, local pressure, surface tension, density, temperature calculation methods, realistic boundary conditions, etc. Heat transfer between solid and fluids has been a challenging area in MD simulations, and has only been minimally explored (especially for a practical fluid like water). Conventionally, an equilibrium canonical ensemble (NVT) is simulated using thermostat algorithms. For research in heat transfer involving solid liquid interaction, we need to perform non equilibrium MD (NEMD) simulations. In such NEMD simulations, the methods used for simulating heating from a surface is very important and must capture proper physics and thermodynamic properties.

Development of MD simulation techniques to simulate solid-liquid heating and the study of fundamental mechanism of passive flow is the main focus of this thesis. An accurate surface-heating algorithm was developed for water which can now allow the study of a whole new set of fundamental heat transfer problems at the nanoscale like surface heating/cooling of droplets, thin-films, etc. The developed algorithm is implemented in the in-house developed C++ MD code. A direct two dimensional local pressure estimation algorithm is also formulated and implemented in the code. With this algorithm, local pressure of argon and platinum interaction is studied. Also, the surface tension of platinum-argon (solid-liquid) was estimated directly from the MD simulations for the first time. Contact angle estimation studies of water on platinum, and argon on platinum were also performed.

A thin film of argon is kept above platinum plate and heated in the middle region, leading to the evaporation and pressure reduction thus creating a strong passive flow in the near surface region. This observed passive liquid flow is characterized by estimating the pressure, density, velocity and surface tension using Eulerian mapping method. Using these simulation, we have demonstrated the fundamental nature and origin of surface-driven passive flow. Heat flux removed from the surface is also estimated from the results, which shows a significant improvement can be achieved in thermal management of electronic devices by taking advantage of surface-driven strong passive liquid flow. Further, the local pressure of water on silicon di-oxide surface is estimated using the LAMMPS atomic to continuum (ATC) package towards the goal of simulating the passive flow in water.


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