Dr. Arun Majumdar is the Jay Precourt Professor at Stanford University, a faculty member of the Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering (by courtesy) and co-director of the Precourt Institute for Energy, which integrates and coordinates research and education activities across all seven Schools and the Hoover Institution at Stanford.
Dr. Majumdar's research in the past has involved the science and engineering of nanoscale materials and devices, especially in the areas of energy conversion, transport and storage as well as biomolecular analysis. His current research focuses on using electrochemical reactions for thermal energy conversion, thermochemical redox reactions, understanding the limits of heat transport in nanostructured materials and a new effort to re-engineer the electricity grid.
In October 2009, Dr. Majumdar was nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate to become the Founding Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E), where he served till June 2012 and helped ARPA-E become a model of excellence for the government with bipartisan support from Congress and other stakeholders. Between March 2011 and June 2012, he also served as the Acting Under Secretary of Energy, enabling the portfolio that reported to him: Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Office of Electricity Delivery and Reliability, Office of Nuclear Energy and the Office of Fossil Energy, as well as multiple cross-cutting efforts such as Sunshot, Grid Tech Team and others that he had initiated. Furthermore, he was a Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Energy, Dr. Steven Chu, on a variety of matters related to management, personnel, budget, and policy. In 2010, he served on Secretary Chu's Science Team to help stop the leak of the Deep Water Horizon (BP) oil spill.
After leaving Washington, DC and before joining Stanford, Dr. Majumdar was the Vice President for Energy at Google, where he created several energy technology initiatives, especially at the intersection of data, computing and electricity grid.
Prior to joining the Department of Energy, Dr. Majumdar was the Almy & Agnes Maynard Chair Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science & Engineering at University of California–Berkeley and the Associate Laboratory Director for energy and environment at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Dr. Majumdar is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He served as the Vice Chairman of the Advisory Board of US Secretary of Energy, Dr. Ernest Moniz, and was also a Science Envoy for the US Department of State with focus on energy and technology innovation in the Baltics and Poland. He is a member of the Advisory Council of the Electric Power Research Institute and a member of the International Advisory Panel for Energy of the Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry. He serves as an advisor to Envision Energy, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, First Light Fusion, the New Energy Group of Royal Dutch Shell. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Cyclotron Road.
Dr. Majumdar received his bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay in 1985 and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1989.
Director, Berkeley Nanoscience and Nanoengineering Institute, UC Berkeley (2005 - 2008)
Director, Environmental Energy Technologies Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (2007 - 2009)
Associate Laboratory Director for Energy and Environment, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (2009 - 2009)
Acting Under Secretary of Energy, United States Department of Energy (2011 - 2012)
Founding Director, Advanced Research Projects Agency- Energy (ARPA-E)- United States Department of Energy (2009 - 2012)
Honors & Awards
Fellow, Indian National Academy of Engineering (2014)
Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2013)
Aurel Stodola Medal and Lecture, ETH Zurich (2010)
Heat Transfer Memorial Award, American Society of Mechanical Engineers (2006)
Member, United States National Academy of Engineering (2005)
Miller Professorship, University of California, Berkeley (2003-2004)
Distinguished Alumnus Award, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (2003)
Fellow, American American Society of Mechanical Engineers (2002)
Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (2002)
Gustus Larson Memorial Award, American Society of Mechanical Engineers (2001)
Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations
Member & Vice Chairman, Secretary of Energy's Advisory Board, Department of Energy (2014 - Present)
Council Member, United States National Academy of Engineering (2014 - Present)
Member, Advisory Council, Electric Power Research Institute (2014 - Present)
Science Envoy, US Department of State (2014 - Present)
Member, International Advisory Panel- Energy, Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industries (2014 - Present)
Member, Science Policy Board, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) (2014 - Present)
Member, Science Advisory Board, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (2014 - Present)
Member, United States Delegation, US-India Track II Dialogue on Climate Change and Energy (2014 - Present)
Member, Selection Committee, Infosys Science Foundation (2012 - Present)
Member, Section 10 Peer Committee, United States National Academy of Engineering (2011 - 2014)
Member, United States National Academy of Engineering Awards Committee (2009 - 2012)
Member, Advisory Board, Nanoscience and Technology Institute, University of Central Florida (2008 - 2009)
Chair and Member, Advisory Committee, NSF Engineering Directorate (2006 - 2009)
Member, Advisory Board, Engineering Science, Sandia National Laboratories (2006 - 2008)
Member, Nanotechnology Technical Advisory Group, President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology (PCAST) (2003 - 2007)
Member, External Advisory Board, NSF Center for Nanoscale Computing Network, Purdue University (2003 - 2006)
Member, Council on Materials Science and Engineering, Basic Energy Science, Office of Science, Department of Energy (2002 - 2007)
Founding Chair, Advisory Board, ASME Nanotechnology Institute (2001 - 2006)
Member, Council on Energy and Engineering Research (CEER), Basic Energy Sciences, US Department of Energy (1998 - 2002)
PhD, University of California, Berkeley, Mechanical Engineering (1989)
MS, University of California, Berkeley, Mechanical Engineering (1987)
BTech, Indian Institute of Technology, Mechanical Engineering (1985)
- Heat Transfer
ME 131A (Win)
Independent Studies (8)
- Engineering Problems
ME 391 (Aut, Win, Spr, Sum)
- Engineering Problems and Experimental Investigation
ME 191 (Aut, Win, Spr)
- Experimental Investigation of Engineering Problems
ME 392 (Win, Spr, Sum)
- Honors Research
ME 191H (Aut, Win, Spr)
- Ph.D. Research Rotation
ME 398 (Aut)
- Ph.D. Teaching Experience
ME 491 (Aut, Win, Spr)
- Practical Training
ME 299A (Aut, Win, Spr)
- Practical Training
ME 299B (Win, Spr, Sum)
- Engineering Problems
- Prior Year Courses
- Evaluation of a Silicon Sr-90 Betavoltaic Power Source SCIENTIFIC REPORTS 2016; 6
Sr Betavoltaic Power Source.
2016; 6: 38182-?
Betavoltaic energy converters (i.e., β-batteries) are attractive power sources because of their potential for high energy densities (>200 MWh/kg) and long duration continuous discharge (>1 year). However, conversion efficiencies have been historically low (<3%). High efficiency devices can be achieved by matching β-radiation transport length scales with the device physics length scales. In this work, the efficiency of c-Si devices using high-energy (>1 MeV) electrons emitted from (90)Sr as a power source is investigated. We propose a design for a >10% efficient betavoltaic device, which generates 1 W of power. A Varian Clinac iX is used to simulate the high-energy electrons emitted from (90)Sr, and a high efficiency c-Si photovoltaic cell is used as the converter. The measured conversion efficiency is 16%. This relatively high value is attributed to proper length scale matching and the generation of secondary electrons in c-Si by the primary β-particles.
View details for DOI 10.1038/srep38182
View details for PubMedID 27905521
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5131278
- Elucidating the synergistic mechanism of nickel-molybdenum electrocatalysts for the hydrogen evolution reaction MRS COMMUNICATIONS 2016; 6 (3): 241-246
Label-Free Electrical Detection of Enzymatic Reactions in Nanochannels.
2016; 10 (8): 7476-7484
We report label-free electrical detection of enzymatic reactions using 2-D nanofluidic channels and investigate reaction kinetics of enzymatic reactions on immobilized substrates in nanoscale-confined spaces. Trypsin proteolysis is chosen for demonstration of the detection scheme. When trypsin cleaves poly-l-lysine coated on the surface of silica nanochannels, the resulting change of surface charge density can be detected by monitoring the ionic conductance of the nanochannels. Our results show that detection of such surface enzymatic reactions is faster than detection of surface binding reactions in nanochannels for low-concentration analytes. Furthermore, the nanochannel sensor has a sensitivity down to 5 ng/mL, which statistically corresponds to a single enzyme per nanochannel. Our results also suggest that enzyme kinetics in nanochannels is fundamentally different from that in bulk solutions or plain surfaces. Such enzymatic reactions form two clear self-propagating reaction fronts inside the nanochannels, and the reaction fronts follow square-root time dependences at high enzyme concentrations due to significant nonspecific adsorption. However, at low enzyme concentrations when nonspecific adsorption is negligible, the reaction fronts propagate linearly with time, and the corresponding propagation speed is related to the channel geometry, enzyme concentration, catalytic reaction constant, diffusion coefficient, and substrate surface density. Optimization of this nanochannel sensor could lead to a quick-response, highly sensitive, and label-free sensor for enzyme assay and kinetic studies.
View details for DOI 10.1021/acsnano.6b02062
View details for PubMedID 27472431
- Nanoscale thermal transport. II. 2003-2012 APPLIED PHYSICS REVIEWS 2014; 1 (1)
Crossover from incoherent to coherent phonon scattering in epitaxial oxide superlattices
2014; 13 (2): 168-172
Elementary particles such as electrons or photons are frequent subjects of wave-nature-driven investigations, unlike collective excitations such as phonons. The demonstration of wave-particle crossover, in terms of macroscopic properties, is crucial to the understanding and application of the wave behaviour of matter. We present an unambiguous demonstration of the theoretically predicted crossover from diffuse (particle-like) to specular (wave-like) phonon scattering in epitaxial oxide superlattices, manifested by a minimum in lattice thermal conductivity as a function of interface density. We do so by synthesizing superlattices of electrically insulating perovskite oxides and systematically varying the interface density, with unit-cell precision, using two different epitaxial-growth techniques. These observations open up opportunities for studies on the wave nature of phonons, particularly phonon interference effects, using oxide superlattices as model systems, with extensive applications in thermoelectrics and thermal management.
View details for DOI 10.1038/NMAT3826
View details for Web of Science ID 000330182700023
View details for PubMedID 24317186
Opportunities and challenges for a sustainable energy future
2012; 488 (7411): 294-303
Access to clean, affordable and reliable energy has been a cornerstone of the world's increasing prosperity and economic growth since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Our use of energy in the twenty-first century must also be sustainable. Solar and water-based energy generation, and engineering of microbes to produce biofuels are a few examples of the alternatives. This Perspective puts these opportunities into a larger context by relating them to a number of aspects in the transportation and electricity generation sectors. It also provides a snapshot of the current energy landscape and discusses several research and development opportunities and pathways that could lead to a prosperous, sustainable and secure energy future for the world.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nature11475
View details for Web of Science ID 000307501000028
View details for PubMedID 22895334
Nanostructured Thermoelectrics: Big Efficiency Gains from Small Features
2010; 22 (36): 3970-3980
The field of thermoelectrics has progressed enormously and is now growing steadily because of recently demonstrated advances and strong global demand for cost-effective, pollution-free forms of energy conversion. Rapid growth and exciting innovative breakthroughs in the field over the last 10-15 years have occurred in large part due to a new fundamental focus on nanostructured materials. As a result of the greatly increased research activity in this field, a substantial amount of new data--especially related to materials--have been generated. Although this has led to stronger insight and understanding of thermoelectric principles, it has also resulted in misconceptions and misunderstanding about some fundamental issues. This article sets out to summarize and clarify the current understanding in this field; explain the underpinnings of breakthroughs reported in the past decade; and provide a critical review of various concepts and experimental results related to nanostructured thermoelectrics. We believe recent achievements in the field augur great possibilities for thermoelectric power generation and cooling, and discuss future paths forward that build on these exciting nanostructuring concepts.
View details for DOI 10.1002/adma.201000839
View details for Web of Science ID 000283104600001
View details for PubMedID 20661949
Nanowires for Enhanced Boiling Heat Transfer
2009; 9 (2): 548-553
Boiling is a common mechanism for liquid-vapor phase transition and is widely exploited in power generation and refrigeration devices and systems. The efficacy of boiling heat transfer is characterized by two parameters: (a) heat transfer coefficient (HTC) or the thermal conductance; (b) the critical heat flux (CHF) limit that demarcates the transition from high HTC to very low HTC. While increasing the CHF and the HTC has significant impact on system-level energy efficiency, safety, and cost, their values for water and other heat transfer fluids have essentially remained unchanged for many decades. Here we report that the high surface tension forces offered by liquids in nanowire arrays made of Si and Cu can be exploited to increase both the CHF and the HTC by more than 100%.
View details for DOI 10.1021/nl8026857
View details for Web of Science ID 000263298700008
View details for PubMedID 19152275
Enhanced thermoelectric performance of rough silicon nanowires
2008; 451 (7175): 163-U5
Approximately 90 per cent of the world's power is generated by heat engines that use fossil fuel combustion as a heat source and typically operate at 30-40 per cent efficiency, such that roughly 15 terawatts of heat is lost to the environment. Thermoelectric modules could potentially convert part of this low-grade waste heat to electricity. Their efficiency depends on the thermoelectric figure of merit ZT of their material components, which is a function of the Seebeck coefficient, electrical resistivity, thermal conductivity and absolute temperature. Over the past five decades it has been challenging to increase ZT > 1, since the parameters of ZT are generally interdependent. While nanostructured thermoelectric materials can increase ZT > 1 (refs 2-4), the materials (Bi, Te, Pb, Sb, and Ag) and processes used are not often easy to scale to practically useful dimensions. Here we report the electrochemical synthesis of large-area, wafer-scale arrays of rough Si nanowires that are 20-300 nm in diameter. These nanowires have Seebeck coefficient and electrical resistivity values that are the same as doped bulk Si, but those with diameters of about 50 nm exhibit 100-fold reduction in thermal conductivity, yielding ZT = 0.6 at room temperature. For such nanowires, the lattice contribution to thermal conductivity approaches the amorphous limit for Si, which cannot be explained by current theories. Although bulk Si is a poor thermoelectric material, by greatly reducing thermal conductivity without much affecting the Seebeck coefficient and electrical resistivity, Si nanowire arrays show promise as high-performance, scalable thermoelectric materials.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nature06381
View details for Web of Science ID 000252214400036
View details for PubMedID 18185582
Thermoelectricity in molecular junctions
2007; 315 (5818): 1568-1571
By trapping molecules between two gold electrodes with a temperature difference across them, the junction Seebeck coefficients of 1,4-benzenedithiol (BDT), 4,4'-dibenzenedithiol, and 4,4''-tribenzenedithiol in contact with gold were measured at room temperature to be +8.7 +/- 2.1 microvolts per kelvin (muV/K), +12.9 +/- 2.2 muV/K, and +14.2 +/- 3.2 muV/K, respectively (where the error is the full width half maximum of the statistical distributions). The positive sign unambiguously indicates p-type (hole) conduction in these heterojunctions, whereas the Au Fermi level position for Au-BDT-Au junctions was identified to be 1.2 eV above the highest occupied molecular orbital level of BDT. The ability to study thermoelectricity in molecular junctions provides the opportunity to address these fundamental unanswered questions about their electronic structure and to begin exploring molecular thermoelectric energy conversion.
View details for DOI 10.1126/science.1137149
View details for Web of Science ID 000244934800050
View details for PubMedID 17303718
Rectification of ionic current in a nanofluidic diode
2007; 7 (3): 547-551
We demonstrate rectification of ionic transport in a nanofluidic diode fabricated by introducing a surface charge discontinuity in a nanofluidic channel. Device current-voltage (I-V) characteristics agree qualitatively with a one-dimensional model at moderate to high ionic concentrations. This study illustrates ionic flow control using surface charge patterning in nanofluidic channels under high bias voltages.
View details for DOI 10.1021/nl062806o
View details for Web of Science ID 000244867400002
View details for PubMedID 17311461
Solid-state thermal rectifier
2006; 314 (5802): 1121-1124
We demonstrated nanoscale solid-state thermal rectification. High-thermal-conductivity carbon and boron nitride nanotubes were mass-loaded externally and inhomogeneously with heavy molecules. The resulting nanoscale system yields asymmetric axial thermal conductance with greater heat flow in the direction of decreasing mass density. The effect cannot be explained by ordinary perturbative wave theories, and instead we suggest that solitons may be responsible for the phenomenon. Considering the important role of electrical rectifiers (diodes) in electronics, thermal rectifiers have substantial implications for diverse thermal management problems, ranging from nanoscale calorimeters to microelectronic processors to macroscopic refrigerators and energy-saving buildings.
View details for DOI 10.1126/science.1132898
View details for Web of Science ID 000242045800037
View details for PubMedID 17110571
Thermal conductivity reduction and thermoelectric figure of merit increase by embedding nanoparticles in crystalline semiconductors
PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS
2006; 96 (4)
Atomic substitution in alloys can efficiently scatter phonons, thereby reducing the thermal conductivity in crystalline solids to the "alloy limit." Using In0.53Ga0.47As containing ErAs nanoparticles, we demonstrate thermal conductivity reduction by almost a factor of 2 below the alloy limit and a corresponding increase in the thermoelectric figure of merit by a factor of 2. A theoretical model suggests that while point defects in alloys efficiently scatter short-wavelength phonons, the ErAs nanoparticles provide an additional scattering mechanism for the mid-to-long-wavelength phonons.
View details for DOI 10.1103/PhysRevLett.96.045901
View details for Web of Science ID 000235083600058
View details for PubMedID 16486849
Thermal conductance and thermopower of an individual single-wall carbon nanotube
2005; 5 (9): 1842-1846
We have observed experimentally that the thermal conductance of a 2.76-microm-long individual suspended single-wall carbon nanotube (SWCNT) was very close to the calculated ballistic thermal conductance of a 1-nm-diameter SWCNT without showing signatures of phonon-phonon Umklapp scattering for temperatures between 110 and 300 K. Although the observed thermopower of the SWCNT can be attributed to a linear diffusion contribution and a constant phonon drag effect, there could be an additional contact effect.
View details for DOI 10.1021/nl051044e
View details for Web of Science ID 000231945500039
View details for PubMedID 16159235
DNA translocation in inorganic nanotubes
2005; 5 (9): 1633-1637
Inorganic nanotubes were successfully integrated with microfluidic systems to create nanofluidic devices for single DNA molecule sensing. Inorganic nanotubes are unique in their high aspect ratio and exhibit translocation characteristics in which the DNA is fully stretched. Transient changes of ionic current indicate DNA translocation events. A transition from current decrease to current enhancement during translocation was observed on changing the buffer concentration, suggesting interplay between electrostatic charge and geometric blockage effects. These inorganic nanotube nanofluidic devices represent a new platform for the study of single biomolecule translocation with the potential for integration into nanofluidic circuits.
View details for DOI 10.1021/nl0509677
View details for Web of Science ID 000231945500001
View details for PubMedID 16159197
Electrostatic control of ions and molecules in nanofluidic transistors
2005; 5 (5): 943-948
We report a nanofluidic transistor based on a metal-oxide-solution (MOSol) system that is similar to a metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET). Using a combination of fluorescence and electrical measurements, we demonstrate that gate voltage modulates the concentration of ions and molecules in the channel and controls the ionic conductance. Our results illustrate the efficacy of field-effect control in nanofluidics, which could have broad implications on integrated nanofluidic circuits for manipulation of ions and biomolecules in sub-femtoliter volumes.
View details for DOI 10.1021/nl050493b
View details for Web of Science ID 000229120900023
View details for PubMedID 15884899
- A 2-D microcantilever array for multiplexed biomolecular analysis JOURNAL OF MICROELECTROMECHANICAL SYSTEMS 2004; 13 (2): 290-299
Thermoelectricity in semiconductor nanostructures
2004; 303 (5659): 777-778
View details for Web of Science ID 000188753800037
- Thermal conductivity of individual silicon nanowires APPLIED PHYSICS LETTERS 2003; 83 (14): 2934-2936
- Nanoscale thermal transport JOURNAL OF APPLIED PHYSICS 2003; 93 (2): 793-818
- Thermometry and thermal transport in micro/nanoscale solid-state devices and structures JOURNAL OF HEAT TRANSFER-TRANSACTIONS OF THE ASME 2002; 124 (2): 223-241
Thermal transport measurements of individual multiwalled nanotubes
PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS
2001; 87 (21)
The thermal conductivity and thermoelectric power of a single carbon nanotube were measured using a microfabricated suspended device. The observed thermal conductivity is more than 3000 W/K m at room temperature, which is 2 orders of magnitude higher than the estimation from previous experiments that used macroscopic mat samples. The temperature dependence of the thermal conductivity of nanotubes exhibits a peak at 320 K due to the onset of umklapp phonon scattering. The measured thermoelectric power shows linear temperature dependence with a value of 80 microV/K at room temperature.
View details for DOI 10.1103/PhysRevLett.87.215502
View details for Web of Science ID 000172400600026
View details for PubMedID 11736348
Bioassay of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) using microcantilevers
2001; 19 (9): 856-860
Diagnosis and monitoring of complex diseases such as cancer require quantitative detection of multiple proteins. Recent work has shown that when specific biomolecular binding occurs on one surface of a microcantilever beam, intermolecular nanomechanics bend the cantilever, which can be optically detected. Although this label-free technique readily lends itself to formation of microcantilever arrays, what has remained unclear is the technologically critical issue of whether it is sufficiently specific and sensitive to detect disease-related proteins at clinically relevant conditions and concentrations. As an example, we report here that microcantilevers of different geometries have been used to detect two forms of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) over a wide range of concentrations from 0.2 ng/ml to 60 microg/ml in a background of human serum albumin (HSA) and human plasminogen (HP) at 1 mg/ml, making this a clinically relevant diagnostic technique for prostate cancer. Because cantilever motion originates from the free-energy change induced by specific biomolecular binding, this technique may offer a common platform for high-throughput label-free analysis of protein-protein binding, DNA hybridization, and DNA-protein interactions, as well as drug discovery.
View details for Web of Science ID 000170774000025
View details for PubMedID 11533645
Scanning thermal microscopy
ANNUAL REVIEW OF MATERIALS SCIENCE
1999; 29: 505-585
View details for Web of Science ID 000082534400016
MICROSCALE HEAT-CONDUCTION IN DIELECTRIC THIN-FILMS
JOURNAL OF HEAT TRANSFER-TRANSACTIONS OF THE ASME
1993; 115 (1): 7-16
View details for Web of Science ID A1993KP91000002
FRACTAL MODEL OF ELASTIC-PLASTIC CONTACT BETWEEN ROUGH SURFACES
JOURNAL OF TRIBOLOGY-TRANSACTIONS OF THE ASME
1991; 113 (1): 1-11
View details for Web of Science ID A1991FE82200001