Abstract: The emergence of topological materials in the past decade has provided new opportunities to realize unique functionalities in energy harvesting and transport applications, while the understanding of microscopic energy transport and conversion processes in these materials is still limited. In this talk, I will discuss our recent computational and experimental efforts to understand phonon transport and electron-phonon coupling in topological materials. Firstly, I will discuss our recent understanding of the anomalous phonon softening in topological Dirac and Weyl semimetals due to singular electron-phonon coupling and their potential use for thermoelectric energy conversion. Secondly, I will describe our development of a scanning ultrafast electron microscope (SUEM) that can directly image microscopic energy transport processes with combined high spatial and temporal resolutions. I will conclude the talk by providing my perspectives on future opportunities of using topological materials for renewable energy applications.
Bio: Bolin Liao is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at UCSB. He received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from MIT in 2016 and was a Kavli postdoc scholar at Caltech from 2016 to 2017. His current research focuses on the fundamental understanding of microscopic energy transport in emerging quantum materials and their potential application in next-generation energy systems.