H. Jeremy Cho, PhD
Engineer & Scientist

About me


Photo credit: George Ni

Hello. I am a postdoc at MIT working in the Device Research Laboratory doing research in the areas of thermodynamics, nanotechnology, fluid mechanics, heat transfer, and physical chemistry. As a mechanical engineer, I design, build, analyze, solve, repair, debug, and code. But I also consider myself a scientist, both as an experimentalist and a theoretician.

Originally from Hawaiʻi, I left the sunshine for cold winters at the University of Michigan as an undergraduate, and then ventured on to Boston to obtain my Master’s and PhD at MIT. Aside from engineering and science, I am trained as a photojournalist, dabble in various musical pursuits, and study foreign languages.

Feel free to contact me with any questions about my work.

Research

How can we use and convert energy more efficiently? That, essentially, is the question I seek to answer in many ways through my research. Pretty much all forms of energy usage and conversion involve the movement of heat. And one of the most effective ways to move heat is through phase-change processes like boiling and condensation. This is why the majority of power plants use a steam cycle to convert a heat source (fossil fuel, solar, geothermal, etc.) into electricity. I look at how boilers and condensers can be made to transfer energy more effectively using nanotechnology. You can read my and my colleagues’ thoughts on the matter in our review paper published in Nature Reviews Materials .

For my PhD research, I’ve looked specifically at how surfactants (molecules that tend to stick to surfaces) can increase boiling performance. Surfactants will change how a liquid wets a surface (think about how water droplets would bead up and slide on a waterproof jacket versus soak a cotton shirt). In boiling, changing the wetting behavior alters the way bubbles form and grow on a boiling surface. I’ve developed theories and models to (1) predict wetting behavior based on surfactant chemistry and (2) determine boiling performance based on how surfactant-altered wetting affects bubbles. I’ve also designed, built, and performed numerous laboratory experiments to test and validate these models. As a result of this investigation, I’ve discovered a new way to boil water. By using electric fields and charged surfactants wherein the charging of surfactant to the surface can be controlled, boiling can be turned “on” and “off.” This work was published in Nature Communications and was featured in MIT News, Phys.org, Gizmodo, among other media.

Photography

Photography has been a passion (and a challenge) of mine for over 15 years. Film, digital, portrait, landscape, I love it all. You’ll find a sample of my portfolio throughout this page and below.