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Hyperbolic Heat Conduction and Thermomechanical Response

Faculty: Robert B. Haber (Mechanical Science & Engineering) and Duane Johnson (Materials Science & Engineering)

Students: Scott Miller (Mechanical Science & Engineering) and Brent Kraczek (Materials Science & Engineering)

Animation of thermal transport

Hyperbolic thermal transport in a composite microstructure: This animation shows wave-like thermal transport in a composite material system; the circular inclusions have lower conductivity and higher capacitance than the matrix. Sharp, wave-like response is observed at early times, but reflections and diffusive effects lead to nearly parabolic response at later times. Height and color indicate temperature.

Other formats:

Animations corresponding to this research are available at



The parabolic Fourier heat equation, although useful in many situations, implies infinite propagation speed and is ineffective at the very small length and time scales associated with nanoscale systems. We seek an effective numerical implementation of hyperbolic thermal and thermomechanical models to avoid these problems.


We use a spacetime discontinuous Galerkin method for systems of conservation laws to implement the hyperbolic Maxwell-Cattaneo-Vernotte thermal model and a coupled three-field model for elastodynamics. An adaptive spacetime solution procedure resolves multiscale response. Recent progress includes treatment of bi-material interfaces for modeling composite microstructures.


This high-resolution model can be applied to pulsed lasers in corneal surgery, nanotechnology (e.g., CPU overheating, phase-change data storage, micromachining of thin films with pulsed lasers), and thermomechanical dynamic fracture. A similar method can model the dynamics of phase transitions (generalized Cahn-Hilliard equation applied to shape memory alloys), biotransport as well as chemisorption and hydrogen storage.

This material is also available as a Powerpoint slide.

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