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Center for Thermal Management

The Center for Thermal Management is led by Hongbin “Bill” Ma, a professor in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department. Since 1999, Ma has been advancing a number of phase-change cooling devices to increase the cost, reliability and performance of advanced microelectronic devices. His research has attracted funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health, Intel Corp., Luvata, Outokumpu, Foxconn, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, ExxonMobil, Army Research Lab (ARL), Northrop Grumman, the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the Leonard Wood Institute, Rockwell Automation, Gore-Tex, the Department of Education, the MU Research Board and the University Research Council, totaling more than $5.4 million.

Ma has been tireless in his pursuit of funding and collaboration with leaders in the microelectronics field. He is continually working to develop state-of-the-art facilities and up-to-date training in these new technologies for his graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. His present goal is to provide low-cost cooling systems to improve performance of devices for the electronic industry as well as increased power and adaptability of microelectronic devices for military applications.

Ma also is dedicated to a wider dissemination of knowledge through peer-reviewed publications. He is currently an associate editor for the ASME Journal of Thermal Science and Engineering Applications and Begell House’s Heat Transfer Research. To date he has authored or co-authored over 120 peer-reviewed journal articles.

He and others in a Columbia-based company he co-founded, ThermAvant Technologies, currently are working with leading defense contractors and military agencies to integrate his patented Oscillating Heat Pipe (OHP) technology into military and commercial systems.

Ma also has used a similar concept to that of OHPs in collaborative cryopreservation research in which extreme rapid cooling is required. In addition, he is working on a glove that would use traditional heat pipes, also extraordinarily efficient, to warm the hands of those with chronically cold digits with heat harvested from the person’s arm.

Another research focus is ejector cooling. In addition to being funded by ONR, and ARL in this area, he is working on an NSF-funded project to develop innovative solutions for cooling power plants that will significantly reduce or eliminate the use of water and also reduce condenser size.

Ma’s far-reaching research applications can be utilized in any application that can benefit from more advanced and more energy-efficient electronics made possible through heat transfer research.