Theo Borca-Tasciuc

Professor and Associate Department Head for Graduate Affairs

Dr. Theodorian (Theo) Borca-Tasciuc has a B.S. in Physics from Bucharest University and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from UCLA. He started his academic career in 2001 at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and since 2013 he is a full professor. He is the director of the Nanoscale Thermophysics and Energy Conversion Laboratory (NanoTEC) on the Rensselaer campus. His research interests include fundamental and multiscale investigations of thermal transport and energy conversion particularly in solid-state and development of innovative materials, devices, and systems with applications ranging from sustainable buildings to medical devices. He received the NSF CAREER award, School of Engineering Outstanding Team award, is a member of the ASME’s K8 committee on Fundamentals of Heat Transfer, and a member of the ASME's  K-9 committee on Nanoscale Thermal Transport. He organized and chaired multiple symposia and sessions on nanoscale thermal transport and energy conversion with ASME, MRS, and CIMTEC International Conferences. Since January 2015, Dr. T. Borca-Tasciuc serves as the Associate Department Head for Graduate Affairs and the Mechanical Engineering Program Director for the MANE Dept. He is the director of a Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) fellowship program, a US Dept. of Education grant which supports MANE’s new interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in aeronautical engineering and mechanical engineering. NanoTEC Lab Research focuses on Investigations of heat conduction and energy conversion in nanomaterials, including carbon nanotube arrays, metallic nanoparticle-polymer and nanowire-polymer composites, thermoelectrics Prototyping and testing advanced refrigeration/heat pump and heat transfer systems Development of advanced metrology techniques for fast, accurate, and high spatial resolution characterization of thermal and thermoelectric properties Investigations of thermal transport across interfaces Development of manufacturing and testing strategies for solid-state energy conversion devices and systems Applications of NanoTEC Research:  CHIPS (memory and logic) Thermal Management, Sustainable Buildings Thermal Systems, Scanning Thermal Microscopy, Surgery and Medical Devices, Temperature and Thermal Properties Metrology, Thermoelectric Device Design and Characterization, Thermal Interface Materials, Thermoelectric Materials, Thermal Energy Conversion Systems. Two Rensselaer student start-up companies are linked to NanoTEC research: ThermoAura Inc. and MIMiC Systems Inc.  Student Projects: NanoTEC lab offers opportunities for a variety of hands-on, experimental, manufacturing, and simulation & design projects for graduate and undergraduate students. Email project inquiries to As of 2021 Dr. T. Borca-Tasciuc graduated (as main advisor or co-advisor) 20 PhD students and 35 Master students. He authored >100 journal articles and book chapters, has >7300 citations, and h-index of 40. Research (examples)  Sensitivity and Spatial Resolution for Thermal Conductivity Measurements using Non-contact Scanning Thermal Microscopy with Thermoresistive Probes under Ambient Conditions (link): Anisotropic thermal diffusivity of aligned multiwall carbon nanotube arrays (link): Thermal resistance of the native interface between vertically aligned multiwalled carbon nanotube arrays and their SiO2/Si substrate (link): Theoretical modeling of a thermal wave technique to determine the extent of the freezing region surrounding a cryoprobe (link): A new class of doped nanobulk high-figure-of-merit thermoelectrics by scalable bottom-up assembly (link): Self-constructed tree-shape high thermal conductivity nanosilver networks in epoxy (link): For more on Google Scholar (link): Non-Fourier heat conduction has critical implications for the thermal management of nanodevices, nanointerconnects, optoelectronics, or the design of nanocomposites and nanomaterials. On another hand, nanostructures and nanostructured materials enable novel ways to independently control the thermoelectric properties (Seebeck coefficient and electrical and thermal conductivities) that define the thermoelectric figure of merit Z, a metric important for thermoelectric energy conversion applications (such as solid state refrigeration and power generation). A critical role is played by development of experimental techniques able to probe thermal and thermoelectric properties at nanoscale, in nanomaterials, across-nanointerfaces, or to test the operation of nanoscale electronic, optoelectronic, and thermoelectric devices. These techniques are employed to perform studies of property-structure relationship to understand and optimize thermal and thermoelectric transport as required by specific applications. Selected examples of techniques developed include: 1) a scanning thermal probe techniques for accurate temperature and thermal conductivity measurements; 2) a transient method for measurement of all thermoelectric properties as well as electrical and thermal contact resistances in films; 3) a photothermoelectric method to determine the anisotropic thermal conductivity and the interface thermal resistance in thin film on-substrate systems; 4) a Joule heating thermometry method for characterization of thermal transport from nanoscale heat sources. Selected research outcomes include: 1) discovery of a new class of highly scalable, high figure of merit, nanostructured bulk thermoelectric materials (patent); 2) implementation of a novel mechanism for formation of high thermal conductivity networks in polymer composites filled with nanoparticles (patent); 3)characterization of anisotropic thermal properties in aligned carbon nanotube arrays and aligned carbon-nanotube polymer composites; 4) characterization of the interface thermal resistance at the native interface between carbon nanotube arrays and the silicon substrate; 5) characterization of effective thermal conductivity of Si/Ge and Si/SiC multilayers;  

CFES Research Area

Energy Efficiency