Mechanical Engineering Department is thrilled to be welcoming Dr. Joaquin Camacho this Fall as our newest tenure-track professor. He adds to the existing department strength in the area of thermofluids in terms of teaching and research. Before joining SDSU, Dr. Camacho was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University. He obtained his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Southern California and a BS in Chemical Engineering from UC San Diego. As he begins his career at SDSU, Dr. Camacho is working to build his research program which focuses on the synthesis of nano-materials and their application to renewable energy. The Energy FANS (Flames, Aerosols and NanoScience) Lab, founded by Dr. Camacho, will focus on flame and high-temperature aerosol based methods to fabricate nano-materials and devices. One specific research area for Dr. Camacho is the study of carbon formation in flames. A diagram summarizing his approach is shown below:
Carbon is a natural by-product of flame when there is more hydrocarbon fuel than oxygen can burn. These flame-formed particulates are considered to be pollutants from combustion engines. Luckily, humans have been making use of flame-formed carbon since ancient times. Tattoo ink is one example of this. More recently, carbon has been a popular area of research due its versatile and unique behavior on the nano-scale. In the Energy FANS Lab, fundamental physics and chemistry processes occurring within the flame are studied to gain the ability to control the pathway such that graphite, carbon nanotubes and graphene is produced rather than less desirable carbon allotropes. Nano-scale graphite, graphene and carbon nano-tubes are sought after for their high-surface area, conductivity and catalytic properties which are regularly applied to emerging technologies. After synthesis, materials characterization is carried out in the Energy FANS lab to quantify the properties of flame-formed nano-materials. In addition, system level research is carried out to apply these materials to devices which can help address renewable energy and sustainability.
Flames are also used in the Energy FANS Lab as a reactor to fabricate nano-materials that do not occur naturally in flames. If the proper precursor is added to the flames, metal oxide nanoparticles will form in the flame and this process can be combined with a deposition process to form a useful material in one step. Below is an example Flame-assisted Chemical Vapor Deposition process:
A dual flame deposition process is being developed to fabricate multi-component thin films. The first application will be to deposit conductive nano-carbon and electrochemical metal oxide. This combination has the potential be an energy storage material with superior capacity and speed.
Dr. Camacho is excited to teach the next generation of Aztecs and mentor student researchers in his lab. Many SDSU students are interested in making an impact as Mechanical Engineers to work towards sustainability and involvement in the Energy FANS Lab is another way to work towards this goal.
For more information, please visit the Energy FANS Lab site: http://engineering.sdsu.edu/~camacho/index.html