This article was originally published by  Bonnie Eissner 

The first mainframe computers took up entire rooms and were less powerful than the smartphones many of us carry today. Innovation has made technology faster, better, smaller and, ultimately, more affordable and widespread.

Ashutosh Giri ’10, who is pursuing a doctoral degree in the department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Virginia, is contributing to this trend. Working with Patrick Hopkins, Ph.D., an assistant professor there, Mr. Giri studies energy transport at the nanoscale.

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In Dr. Hopkins’ lab, Mr. Giri uses pulse lasers to test the thermal conductivity of different materials. He says that the work is an ideal blend of his dual interests in physics and engineering. After studying physics at Adelphi, Mr. Giri earned an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh.

Consider this. The processors in our computers run at gigahertz frequency—i.e., really fast—and in so doing heat up quickly. Ultimately, the heat limits the processing speed. To have more powerful and speedier computers and other devices, we need materials that dissipate heat more efficiently at the atomic or molecular level.

Mr. Giri’s thirst for research stems from his first year at Adelphi conducting optics research with physics professor and department chair Gottipaty Rao, Ph.D. “It showed me how every day of my life could be and how exciting it would be to learn something new every day,” Mr. Giri says.