Georgia Institute of Technology Georgia Institute of Technology

Research Horizons

Georgia Tech's Research Horizons Magazine
Menu
Profile

photo - Thomas Bougher seated behind electronics

Keeping it Cool

THOMAS BOUGHER INVESTIGATES NEW WAYS TO TAKE THE HEAT OFF ELECTRONICS

Thomas Bougher is a doctoral student in Georgia Tech’s Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, studying how polymers can be engineered to transport heat. As an undergraduate and master’s student, he worked on improving combustion engines before going back to school to study nanotechnology — a field he saw as the future for new energy technologies.

WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

I’m from Columbus, Ohio. I went to Purdue University for my undergraduate degree and studied mechanical engineering. Then I went to the University of Texas at Austin to get a master’s degree in mechanical engineering.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE GEORGIA TECH?

After my master’s degree, I worked for five years as a combustion engineer at Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. I did a lot of work with diesel engines, such as reducing emissions and improving fuel economy. But I wanted to get into nanotechnology and new energy technologies. Georgia Tech has some really interesting research in that area. More specifically, there is a great community in nanoscale heat transfer, which is the focus of much of my work.

WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO NANOTECHNOLOGY?

Studying nanomaterials is exciting because there are just so many things that we don’t know yet. With a little creativity and some fundamental science you can try a lot of new things and maybe discover something interesting. I’m part of the NanoEngineered Systems and Transport laboratory led by Associate Professor Baratunde Cola.

HOW ARE POLYMERS RELEVANT TO COOLING?

Polymers are typically thought of as poor conductors of heat — you make all sorts of insulation, like coolers, out of them. But if you engineer the polymers on a nanoscale, you can actually line up polymer chains in certain directions and make them pretty good thermal conductors. We looked at a way to do that through creating an array of nanotubes that are lined up for high thermal conductivity in a pure polymer form.

WHAT’S YOUR ADVICE FOR PEOPLE CONSIDERING A CAREER SHIFT?

It’s never too late to make a switch, but after a five-year break from school, getting back to books and classes was a little painful in the beginning, so don’t wait too long. — BRETT ISRAEL

ipad cover issue 3 2015

Keep in touch with the latest Georgia Tech research news through our print magazine, monthly e-newsletter, and Twitter feed.
SUBSCRIBE NOW >

Georgia Tech is home to more than 2,500 faculty members who conduct scientific and engineering research in hundreds of different research areas.

Related Stories

Read More
Read More
Read More

Get the Latest Research News in Your Inbox

Sign up for the Research Horizons Monthly Newsletter

Media Contacts

John Toon

John Toon

Director of Research News
Phone: 404.894.6986
photo - Ben Brumfield

Ben Brumfield

Senior Science Writer
Phone: 404.385.1933
Josh Brown

Josh Brown

Senior Science Writer
Phone: 404-385-0500

Subscribe & Connect

Follow Us on Twitter:

@gtresearchnews

RSS Feeds

Subscribe to our RSS Feeds with your favorite reader.

Email Newsletter

Sign up to receive our monthly email newsletter.

Research Horizons Magazine

Sign up for a free subscription to Research Horizons magazine.