2024 Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Program Goes to Suo Yang

ME Assistant Professor Suo Yang is one of 48 scientists and engineers to receive an award through the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) Young Investigator Program (YIP). Yang's project, "Micro-Jetting in Detonations: Origin and Dependence on Confinement, Chemistry, and Dimensionality," stands to significantly enhance our understanding of normal, rotating, and oblique detonations, and develop unprecedented modeling and simulation capabilities for the development of all types of detonation-based propulsion and energy systems, including rotating detonation engines (RDEs) and oblique detonation engines (ODEs).

Enhancing efficiency is the most effective way to reduce energy consumption and emissions. Based on thermodynamic cycle analysis, high-pressure combustion is the most straightforward way to achieve high efficiency in propulsion and energy systems. High pressures were traditionally achieved mostly through complicated and heavy turbomachinery (i.e., compressors), but future combustion systems are looking to employ "detonations" — an alternative explosive and hypersonic form of combustion that inherently deliverers pressure-gain and achieve high pressures via strong shock-based compression. This form of combustion is much more resilient, gets rid of cumbersome moving parts like compressors, and achieves higher cycle efficiency. Yang's research aims to take the next big leap in aerospace propulsion and power generation.

“Through the YIP, the Department of the Air Force fosters creative basic research in science and engineering, enhances early career development of outstanding young investigators and increases opportunities for the young investigators to engage in forwarding the Department of the Air Force, or DAF mission and related challenges in science and engineering,” said Ellen Robinson, AFOSR YIP program manager. Robinson reported that the 2024 YIP received 159 proposals, making it a very competitive award. The YIP's mission is to develop and mentor future scientists in high-risk research with the potential to transition into discoveries that profoundly impact the future Air and Space Force.

See the full list of 2024 YIP awards.

Watch a video from Yang's research: