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Gang Chen

Contact Info

room 3-174

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

77 Massachusetts Avenue

Cambridge, Masachusetts 02139

Administrative Contact Xu, Keke 3-174 617.253.2201


  • 1993


  • 1987

    Huazhong University of Science and Technology

  • 1983

    Huazhong University of Science and Technology


Research Interests

  • Experimental, theoretical, and numerical study of fundamental thermal energy conversion and transport mechanisms at micro- and nanometer scales, with applications to thermoelectrics, photovoltaics, thermophotovoltaics, microelectronics and photonics; nanoengineered materials with high and low thermal conductivities; heat transfer in colloids and soft maters; thermal interface materials; ultrafast transport processes; thermal radiation and electromagnetic metamaterials; water treatment and desalination.

Honors + Awards

Selected Listing:

  • 2016, Eringen Medal, Society of Engineering Science
  • 2015, World Technology Award, Energy Category
  • 2015, William Mong Distinguished Lecture, University of Hong Kong
  • 2015, Institute of Advanced Studies Distinguished Seminar, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
  • 2014, Academician, Academia Sinica, Taiwan
  • 2014, Outstanding Alumni Award, Huazhong University of Science and Technology
  • 2014, Nukiyama Memorial Award, Heat Transfer Society of Japan
  • 2014, Batteries that Capture Low-Grade Waste Heat named by Scientific America Magazine as one of 10 World Changing Ideas.
  • 2014, Penner Lecture, Department of Mechanical Engineering, UCSD
  • 2014, Distinguished Lecture, ME8888 Seminar, Ohio State University 
  • 2013, 75th Anniversary Medal of the ASME Heat Transfer Division
  • 2013, George Persall Lecture, Duke University
  • 2012, Directional Solvent Extraction Technology Named by Scientific America Magazine as one of 10 World Changing Ideas.
  • 2012, Fellow, American Physical Society
  • 2012, Springer Professor, UC Berkeley
  • 2012, Hawkins Lecture, Purdue University
  • 2012, Distinguished Seminar, U. Toronto Mechanical Engineering Department.
  • 2011, Distinguished Lecture, CMU Mechanical Engineering Department.
  • 2011, Honorary Professor, Hubei University of Arts and Science, China
  • 2011, Capers and Marion McDonald Award for Excellences in Mentoring and Advising, MIT School of Engineering.
  • 2011, Distinguished Lecture, University of Connecticut, School of Engineering.
  • 2010, Honorary Professor, Shanghai University
  • 2010, Member, National Academy of Engineering
  • 2009, AAAS Fellow
  • 2009, Carl Richard Soderberg Professor of Power Engineering, MIT School of Engineering
  • 2008, R&D 100 Award for High Performance Thermoelectric Materials
  • 2008, ASME Heat Transfer Memorial Award, Science Category.
  • 2007, Honorary Professor, Huanan University of Science and Technology, China
  • 2006, Fellow, ASME
  • 2006, Warren and Towneley Rohsenow Professorship, MIT
  • 2002, Guggenheim Fellowship.
  • 1994, National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award.
  • 1994-97, Outstanding Reviewer for Journal of Heat Transfer.
  • 1996, Warren Faculty Scholar, Duke University.
  • 1992, Arthur Gould Tasheira Scholarship, University of California, Berkeley.
  • 89-92, Scholarship, K.C. Wong Education Foundation, Hong Kong

Related Experience

  • 2013-present, Head, Mecahnical Engineering Department, MIT
  • 2009-present, Carl Richard Soderberg Professor of Power Engineering, MIT
  • 2009-present, Director, Solid-State Solar-Thermal Energy Conversion Center, a US Department of Energy EFRC
  • 2006-2009, Warren and Towneley Rohsenow Professor, MIT
  • 2004-present, Professor, Mechanical Engineering Department, MIT.
  • 2001-2004, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering Department, MIT
  • 1996-2001, Associate Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, University of California at Los Angeles.
  • 1993-1997, Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, Duke University.  
  • 1987-1989, Lecturer, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China. 


  • US National Academy of Engineering, Member
  • Academia Sinica, Academician
  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Fellow
  • American Physical Society, Fellow
  • American Association for Advancement of Science, Fellow
  • Materials Research Society, Member

Professional Service

Selected Listing:

  • 2015-present, Engineering, Associate Editor-in-Chief
  • 2003-present, Annual Review of Heat Transfer, Lead Co-Editor
  • 2013-present, Technology, Editorial Board
  • 2011-present, Nano Energy, Editorial Board
  • 2011, Member of US-Russia Presidential Bilateral Relation 
  • 2011-present, ASME Heat Transfer Division Award Committee, Member
  • 2004-present, Center for Applied Science, Taiwan, Advisory Board
  • 2004-present, Nano/Microscale Thermophysical Engineering, Editorial Board
  • 2005-2008, ASME Nano Institute, Chairman of Advisory Board
  • 2003-2005, Nanoscale Phenomena Committee, ASME Nano-Institute, Chair

MIT Service

  • MIT.nano governing board
  • 2013-present, Head, Mecahnical Engineering Department, MIT
  • Advisor, MIT-CHIEF
  • 2006-present, Director, Papparlado Micro/Nano Engineering Laboratories
  • 2005-2009, Micro/Nano Engineering Area Head
  • 2010-2012, Micro/Nano Engineering Area Head
  • 2008-2010, Co-Chair, MITEI Seminar Series
  • 2004, Materials Research Facility Committee
  • 2003-2004, MTL Processing Review Committee


  • Thermal Fluids Engineering I (2.005)
  • Thermal Fluids Engineering II (2.006)
  • Nano-to-Macro Transport Processes (2.57)
  • Radiative Transfer (2.58J)
  • Direct Solar/Thermal to Electrical Energy Conversion (2.997)


Selected Publications

  • Book: G. Chen, Nanoscale Energy Transfer and Conversion, Oxford Press, ISBN 019515942X, 2005.


  • ​G. Chen, "Nonlocal and Nonequilibrium Heat Conduction in the Vicinity of Nanoparticles," ASME Journal of Heat Transfer, Vol. 118, pp. 539-545, 1996.
  • G. Chen, "Size and Interface Effects on Thermal Conductivity of Superlattices and Periodic Thin-Film Structures," ASME Journal of Heat Transfer, Vol. 119, pp. 220-229, 1997.
  • G. Chen, "Thermal Conductivity and Ballistic Phonon Transport in Cross-Plane Direction of Superlattices," Physical Review B., Vol. 57, pp. 14958-14973, 1998.
  • S.G. Volz and G. Chen, “Molecular Dynamics Simulation of Thermal Conductivity of Silicon Nanowires,” Applied Physics Letters, Vol. 75, pp. 2056-2058, 1999.  
  • G. Chen, “Ballistic-Diffusive Heat Conduction Equations,” Physical Review Letters, Vol. 85, pp. 2297-2300, 2001.  
  • B. Yang and G. Chen, “Partially Coherent Phonon Heat Conduction in Superlattices,” Physical Review B, Vol. 67, 195311 (1-4), 2003.
  • R.G. Yang and G. Chen, “Thermal Conductivity Modeling of Periodic Two-Dimensional Nanocomposites,” Physical Review B, Vol. 69, 195316, 2004.
  • C. Dames and G. Chen, “1w, 2w, and 3w methods for Measurements of Thermal Properties,” Review of Scientific Instruments, Vol. 76, 124902, 2005.
  • M.S. Dresselhaus, G. Chen, M.Y. Tang, R. Yang, H. Lee, D.Z. Wang, Z.F. Ren, J.P. Fleurial, and P. Gogna, “New Directions for Thermoelectric Materials,” Advanced Materials, Vol. 19, pp. 1-12, 2007.
  • L. Hu and G. Chen,  “Analysis of Optical Absorption in Silicon Nanowire Arrays for Photovoltaic Applications,” Nano Letters, Vol. 7, pp. 3249-3252, 2007.  
  • A. Narayanaswamy and G. Chen, “Thermal Near-Field Radiative Transfer between Two Spheres,” Physical Review B, Vol. 77, 075125, 2008.
  • A. Henry and G. Chen, “Spectral Phonon Properties of Silicon Based Molecular Dynamics and Lattice Dynamics Simulations,” Journal of Computational and Theoretical Nanosciences, Vol. 5, pp. 141-152, 2008.
  • B. Poudel, Q. Hao, Y. Ma, Y.C. Lan, A. Minnich, B. Yu, X. Yan, D.Z. Wang, A. Muto, D/ Vashaee, X.Y. Chen, J.M. Liu, M.S. Dresselhaus, G. Chen, and Z.F. Ren, “High Thermoelectric Performance of Nanostructured Bismuth Antimony Telluride Bulk Alloys,” Science, Vol. 320, pp. 634-638, 2008.
  • A. Narayanawamy, S. Shen, and G. Chen, “Near–field Radiative Transfer between a Sphere and a Substrate,” Physical Review B, Vol. 78, 115303, 2008.
  • A. Schmidt, M. Chiesa, X.Y. Chen, and G. Chen, “An Optical Pump-Probe Technique for Measuring the Thermal Conductivity of Liquids,” Review of Scientific Instruments, Vol. 79, 064902, 2008.
  • A. Henry and G. Chen, “High Thermal Conductivity of Single Polyethylene Chains Using Molecular Dynamics Simulations,” Physical Review Letters, Vol. 101, 235502, 2008.
  • S. Shen, A. Narayanaswamy, and G. Chen, “Surface Phonon Polaritons Mediated Energy Transfer between Nanoscale Gaps,” Nano Letters, Vol. 9, 2909-2913, 2009.  
  • J.W. Gao, R.T. Zheng, H. Ohtani, D.S. Zhu, and G. Chen, “Experimental Investigation of Heat Conduction Mechanisms in Nanofluids--- Clue on Clustering,” Nano Letters, Vol. 9, pp. 4128-4132, 2009. 
  • S. Shen, A. Henry, J. Tong, R.T. Zheng, and G. Chen, High Thermal Conductivity Polyethylene Nanofibers,” Nature Nanotechnology, Vol. 5, pp.251-255, 2010.
  • A. Bajpayee, T.F. Luo, A. Muto, and G. Chen, “Very Low Temperature Membrane Free Desalination by Directional Solvent Extraction,” Energy and Environmental Science, Vol. 4, pp.1672-1675, 2011.
  • D. Kraemer, B. Poudel, H.-P. Feng, J.C. Caylor, B. Yu, X. Yan, Y. Ma, X.W. Wang, D.Z. Wang, A. Muto, K. McEnaney, Q. Hao, M. Chiesa, Z.F. Ren, and G. Chen, “High-performance flat-panel solar thermoelectric generators with large thermal concentration,” Nature Materials, Vol. 10, pp. 532-538, 2011.
  • G. Chen, “Theoretical Efficiency of Solar Thermoelectric Generators (STEGs),” Journal of Applied Physics, Vol. 109, 104908, 2011.
  • M. Zebarjadi, G. Joshi, A. Minnich, Y. C. Lan , X. W. Wang , G. H. Zhu, G. Chen, and Z. F. Ren, “Power Factor Enhancement by Modulation Doping in P-type Silicon Germanium Alloy,” Nano Letters, Vol. 11, pp.. 2225-2230, 2011.  
  • J. Minnich, J. A. Johnson, A. J. Schmidt, K. Esfarjani, M. S. Dresselhaus, K. A. Nelson, and G. Chen, “A Thermal Conductivity Spectroscopy Technique to Measure Phonon Mean Free Paths,” Physical Review Letters, Vol. 107, 095901 (1-4), 2011.
  • K. Esfarjani, G. Chen, and H. T. Stokes, “Heat Transport in Silicon from First Principle Calculations,” Physical Review B, Vol. 84, 085204, 2011.
  • R.T. Zheng, J.W. Gao, J.J. Wang, H.P. Feng, H. Ohtani, J.B. Wang, and G. Chen, “Thermal Percolation in Stable Graphite Suspensions” Nano Letters, Vol. 12, 188-192, 2012.
  • A. Mavrokefalos, S. E. Han, S. Yerci, M. S. Branham, and G. Chen, “Efficient Light-trapping in Inverted Nano-Pyramid Thin Crystalline Silicon Membranes for Solar Cell Applications,” Nano Letters, Vol. 12, pp. 2792-2796, 2012.
  • B.L. Liao, M. Zebarjadi, K. Esfarjani, and G. Chen, “Cloaking Core-Shell Nanoparticles from Conducting Electrons in Solids,” Physical Review Letter, Vol. 109, 126806, 2012.
  • M. N. Luckyanova, J. Garg, K. Esfarjani, A. Jandl, M. T. Bulsara, A.J. Schmidt, A.J. Minnich, M.S. Dresselhaus, E.A. Fitzgerald, and G. Chen, “Coherent Phonon Heat Conduction in Superlattices,” Science, Vol. 338, pp.936-939, 2012.
  • Z.T. Tian, K. Esfarjani, and G. Chen, “Enhancing Phonon Transmission across Si/Ge Interface by Atomic Roughness: A First-principles Study with the Green's Function Method”, Physical Review B, Vol. 86, 235304, 2012.
  • J. A. Johnson, A. A. Maznev, J. Cuffe, J. K. Eliason, A. J. Minnich, T. Kehoe, C. M. Sotomayor Torres, G. Chen, K.A. Nelson, “Direct Measurement of Room Temperature Non-diffusive Thermal Transport Over Micron Distance in a Silicon Membrane,” Physical Review Letters, Vol. 110, 025901, 2013.
  • D. Kraemer and G. Chen, “A Simple Differential Steady-State Method to Measure the Thermal Conductivity of Solid Bulk Materials with High Accuracy,” Review Scientific Instruments, Vol. 85, 025108, 2014.
  • S.Y. Lee, K. Esfarjani, T.F. Luo., and G. Chen, “Resonant bonding leads to low thermal conductivity,” Nature Communication, Vol. 5, 3535, 2014.
  • S.W. Lee, Y. Yang, H.-W. Lee, H. Ghasemi, D. Kraemer, G. Chen, Y. Cui, “An electrochemical system for highly efficient harvesting of low-grade heat energy,” Nature Communication, Vol. 5, 3942, 2014.
  • H. Ghasemi, A. Marie Marconnet, G. Ni, and G. Chen, “Solar steam generation by heat localization,” Nature Communication, Vol. 5, 4449, 2014.
  • Y. Yang, S.W. Lee, H. Ghasemi, X.B. Li, D. Kraemer, J. Wang, Y. Cui, and G. Chen, “A Charging-free Electrochemical System for Harvesting Low-grade Heat Energy,” PNAS, Vol. 111, pp. 17011-17016, 2014.
  • K.C. Collins, A.A. Maznev, J. Cuffe, K.A. Nelson, and G. Chen, “Examining Thermal Transport through a Frequency-domain Representation of Time-domain Thermoreflectance Data”, Review of Scientific Instruments, Vol.85, 124903, 2014.
  • L. Ma, J.J. Wang, A. Marconnet, G. McKinley, W. Liu, G. Chen, “Viscosity and Thermal Conductivity of Graphite Suspensions Near Percolation,” Nano Letters, Vol.15, pp.127-133, 2015.
  • B.L. Liao, B. Qiu, J.W. Zhou, S. Huberman, K. Esfarjani, and G. Chen, “Significant Reduction of Lattice Thermal Conductivity by Electron-Phonon Interaction in Silicon with High Carrier Concentrations: a First-Principles Study,” Physical Review Letters, Vol. 114, 115901, 2015.
  • S.Y. Lee, D. Broido, K. Esfarjani, and G. Chen, Hydrodynamic phonon transport in suspended graphene,” Nature Communication, Vol. 6, 6290, 2015.
  • D. Kraemer, J.H. Sui, K. McEnaney, H.Z. Zhao, Q. Jie, Z.F. Ren and G. Chen,Demonstration of High Thermoelectric Conversion Efficiency of MgAgSb-based Material with Hot-Pressed Contacts,” Energy and Environmental Science, Vol. 8 pp.1299-1308, 2015.
  • M.S. Branham, W.-C. Hsu, S. Yerci, and G. Chen, “15.7% Efficient, 10-μm-Thick Crystalline Silicon Solar Cells Enabled by Periodic Surface Light Trapping Structures,” Advanced Materials, Vol. 27, 2182, 2015.
  • B. Qiu, Z.T. Tian, A. Vallabhaneni, B.L. Liao, J.M. Mendoza, O.D. Restrepo, X.L. Ruan, G. Chen, “First-Principles Simulation of Electron Mean-Free-Path Spectra and Thermoelectric Properties in Silicon,” Eurepean Physics Letters, Vol. 109, 57006, 2015.
  • V. Chiloyan, J. Garg, K. Esfarjani, G. Chen, “Near Field Radiative Heat Transfer in Sub-nanometer Regime Using Microscopic Maxwell’s Equations,” Nature Communication, Vol. 6,  6755,  2015.
  • Y.J. Hu, L.P. Zeng, A.J. Minnich, M.S. Dresselhaus, G. Chen, “Spectral Mapping of Thermal Conductivity through Nanoscale Ballistic Transport,” Nature Nanotechnology, Vol.10, 701–706, 2015.
  • J.W. Zhou, B.L. Liao, B. Qiu, S. Huberman, K. Esfarjani, and G. Chen, “Ab Initio Optimization of Phonon Drag Effect for Lower-temperature Thermoelectric Energy Conversion” PNAS, accepted.


Selected Patents

  • G. Chen, Z.F. Ren, M.S. Dresselhaus, “Nanocomposites with High Thermoelectric Figure of Merits,” US Patent No. 7,465,871 B2, Dec. 16, 2008. 
  • G. Chen, “Potential Amplified Nonequilibrium Thermoelectric Device (PANTEC),” US Patent No. 8,309,838, November 13, 2012.
  • G. Chen, R.G. Yang, and A. Narayanswamy, “Surface Plasmon Coupled Nonequilibrium Thermoelectric Device,” US Patent No. 7,508,110, March 24, 2009.
  • Z.F. Ren, G. Chen, S. Kumar, and H. Lee, “Thermoelectric Properties by High Temperature Annealing,” US Patent No. 7,591,913, September 22, 2009. 
  • Z.F. Ren; G. Chen; B. Poudel; S. Kumar; W.Z. Wang; Wenzhong; M.S. Dresselhaus; Mildred;  “Methods for synthesis of semiconductor nanocrystals and thermoelectric compositions,” US Patent No. 7,255,846, April 14, 2007.
  • B. Poudel, W.Z. Wang, Z.F. Ren, G. Chen, and M.S. Dresselhaus, “Metal-doped semiconductor nanoparticles and methods of synthesis thereof,” US Patent No. 7,586,003, Sept. 8, 2009.
  • Gang Chen, Xiaoyuan Chen, M.S. Dresselhaus, and Zhifeng Ren, “Solar Thermoelectric Energy Converters,” US Patent No. 8,168,879.
  • Ruiting Zheng, Jinwei Gao and Gang Chen, "Graphite Microfluids", US Patent No. 8,192,643, February, 5, 2012,
  • Anurag Bajpayee, Daniel Kraemer, Andrew Jerome Muto, Gang Chen, John H. Lienhard, and Borivaje B. Mikic, “Water Desalination Using Directional Solvent Extraction,” US Patent 8,119,007 B2, Date of Patent Feb. 21, 2012. 
  • Gang Chen, Christine Junior, and Juergen Koehler, “System and Method for Thermal Process Including a Thermoelectric Heat Pump and Internal Heat Exchanger,” MIT Case No. 13865, August, 2009, Provisional Patent Application Filed.  Utility Patent: USSN 12/950,504 filed November 19, 2010.  Patent allowed, October, 2011. 
  • Hsien-Ping, Gang Chen, Bo Yu, Zhifeng Ren, Shuo Chen, and Bed Poudel, “Metal Deposition Using Seed Layers,” US Patent No. Patent No. 8,580,100, Nov. 12, 2013.
  • Zhifeng Ren, Bed Poudel, Gang Chen, Yucheng Lan, Dezhi Wang, Qing Hao, Mildred Dresselhaus, Yi Ma, Xiao Yan, Xiaoyuan Chen, Xiaowei Wang, Joshi R. Giri, Bo Yu, Ren; “Methods for High Figure-of-Merit in Nanostructured Thermoelectric Materials,” US patent No. 8865995, issued on10/21/2014.
  • Z.F. Ren, J. Yang, X. Yang, Q.Y. He, G. Chen, and Q. Hao, “Thermoelectric Skutterudite Compositions and Methods for Producing the Same,” US patent No. 8883047, issued on 11/11/2014.
  • Zhifeng Ren, Qinyong Zhang, Qian Zhang, and Gang Chen, “Thermoelectric materials and methods for synthesis thereof”, US 9,099,601, August 4, 2015.
  • Mona Zebarjadi, Bolin Liao, Keivan Esfarjani, and Gang Chen, “A Semiconductor with Embedded Nanoparticles Invisible to the Conduction Carriers”, US Patent No. 9,076,712 B2, July 7, 2015.
  • Gang Chen, Erik Skow, and Xiaoyuan Chen, “Polymer Sheets and Other Bodies Having Oriented Chains and Method and Apparatus for Producing Same,” US Patent No. 9,109,846 B2, 8/18/2015.