With novel optical diagnostic techniques, Professor Lin Ma is poised to enable the long-desired capability of obtaining multi-dimensional data of combustion and flow processes. Using a newly developed suite of diagnostics, Ma is producing measurements for turbulent flows and flames in 4D— three dimensions plus time. Such measures are needed for better understanding of a range of energy conversion processes at a fundamental level. More comprehensive information like 4D diagnostics will lead to improved designs in a variety of practical devices such as aircraft engines.

The ability to make 4D measurements will have far-reaching benefits for energy security and environmental sustainability. The new data will help engineers design better energy systems, which in turn will translate into higher fuel efficiency with lower pollutant emissions. Insights from the datasets will provide validation for existing computational models and, more importantly, will help inspire new models. These validated and new models will let researchers test designs and hypotheses by running simulations instead of building and scrapping test engines. (TC) and volumetric laser-induced fluorescence (VLIF), can provide unprecedented 4D measurements of key thermal-fluid properties. His research group has now also developed specialized computer algorithms to obtain 4D spatial and temporal information of complicated flame and flow structures by leveraging recent advancements in high-speed laser and camera technologies.

Professor Ma recently moved from Virginia Tech where he helped found the Rolls-Royce University Technology Center. UVA is also a University Technology Center, one of only three in North America. His work also has been extensively disseminated in more than 80 journal papers and has received
national recognition, including the NSF CAREER award, the SAE’s international Teetor Award, and the Combustion Institute’s Outstanding Paper Award.