ZT Group


ZT Group: Nano Heat Energy


Department of Mechanical Engineering
313A Goodwin Hall,
635 Prices Fork Road (0238)
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Dr. Zhiting Tian

Assistant Professor

We are a research group in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech, led by Assistant Professor Zhiting Tian. Our group seeks fundamental understanding of nanoscale energy transport processes in semiconductors, polymers, hybrid composites, and novel low-dimensional materials, as well as across solid-solid, solid-liquid and solid-polymer interfaces, for various applications including solar/thermal energy conversion and storage, thermal management of microelectronics, thermal insulation, and biomedical engineering. We conduct both simulations (ab initio and classical calculations) and experiments (ultrafast laser-based techniques and inelastic x-ray scattering) on nanostructured materials. We invite you to look at the website for more details.


  • December 2, 2016: Chen has been selected to receive an award from the GSA Travel Fund Program for fall 2016. Congratulations!
  • November 21, 2016: Zhiting is being recognized on the Office of the Vice President for Research homepage as the Scholar of the Week for the week of November 21 through November 28, 2016. Congratulations!  (https://www.research.vt.edu/scholar-of-the-week)
  • September 5, 2016: Zhiting has been selected by Society of Women Engineers (SWE) to attend 2016 Academic Leadership in Women Engineering (ALWE) program with NSF ASSIST travel grant at WE16.
  • June 2, 2016 : Hao has been selected to attend the Eighteenth National School on Neutron and X-ray Scattering to be held July 30 – August 13, 2016 at Argonne National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Congratulations, Hao! May 23, 2016

Research & Projects

The research at ZT Group seeks to fundamentally investigate nanoscale energy transport processes and their potential applications in solar/thermal energy conversion and storage, thermal management of micro/nanoelectronics, and thermal phenomena for biomedical applications.


  • Modeling: Understanding fundamental Physics through atomistic modeling

— Molecular Dynamics Simulations, Monte Carlo Simulations, Density-Functional Theory Calculations, Finite Element Analysis etc.

  • Materials: Design new materials and devices for practical applications

— Solar/Thermal Energy Conversion, Thermal Interface Materials, Nano-Bio Applications etc.

  • Experiments: Characterize material properties and validate theoretical predictions with experiments

— Time-domain Thermoreflectance Measurements, Transient Grating, Inelastic X-ray Scattering etc.

Current Funded Research Projects:

NSFEAGER: An Innovative Way to Enhance Cross-Plane Thermal Conductivity of Polymer-based Thin Films


Nano Engineered Thermoelectric Systems (NETS) for Lightweight Portable Primary/Secondary Power Sources

7c8716_7904b2f21f5446be81e5e712c9821db8Materials for Transduction (MATRIX), DARPA 12/11/2015-12/10/2017



7. E. Kanimba, M. Pearson, J. Sharp, D. Stokes, S. Priya, and Zhiting Tian, “A comprehensive modeling of a PbTe thermoelectric generator”, Energy (under review)

6. Hao Ma and Zhiting Tian, “Effects of Polymer Topology and Morphology on Thermal Transport: A Molecular Dynamics Study of Bottlebrush Polymers”, Applied Physics Letters (under review)

5. Hao Ma and Zhiting Tian, “Incredibly High Thermal Rectification in Nanoscale Tapered Bottlebrush Polymers Driven by Amorphous to Crystalline Phase Transition”, Nano Letters (under revision)

4. Chen Li and Zhiting Tian, “Thermal Transport Properties of Black Phosphorus: A Topical Review”,  Nanoscale and Microscale Thermophysical Engineering (under revision)

3. H. Ma, C. Li, S. Tang, J. Yan, A. Alatas, L. Lindsay, B. Sales, and Zhiting Tian, “Boron arsenide phonon dispersion from inelastic x-ray scattering: Potential for ultrahigh thermal conductivity”, Physical Review B: Rapid Communications (accepted)

2. Importance of the Hubbard-correction on the thermal conductivity calculation of strongly-correlated materials: a case study of ZnO

Tony Consiglio and Zhiting Tian  Scientific Reports, 6, 36875 (2016)

1. Thermoelectric Properties of Crystalline and Amorphous Polypyrrole: A Computational Study

Chen Li, Hao Ma and Zhiting Tian  Applied Thermal Engineering, 111, 1441-1447 (2017): (Invited for a special issue on thermoelectric energy conversion, peer-reviewed)

Laboratory address and students offices:
Goodwin Hall , Virginia Tech
635 Prices Fork Rd, Room 232
Blacksburg, Virginia 24061

Department of Mechanical Engineering
College of Engineering, Virginia Tech
635 Prices Fork Road, Blacksburg, VA 24061