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The main purpose of the independent study was to test and optimize a passive solid metal thermal heat switch. Based on the results from my summer research internship, a new metal prototype was machined. Multiple thermal tests were conducted to validate the functionality of the heat switch and to measure the thermal performance. Experiments were conducted in the vacuum chamber to minimize heat loss and improve the switching ratio. From the thermal data measurement, although the off-state thermal conductance decreased from 0.19 W/K to 0.075 W/K compared to previous trials, this conductance value is still higher than expected. Self-consistent and repeatable temperature profiles from the off-state data indicated that the data is reliable, so a new method of proving the functionality of the heat switch should be introduced. We thus propose that a plot comparing the inlet temperature of the switch, as a function of the outlet temperature, can be used to show the heat switch functionality. Experiments to fully map out these regimes are still in progress. In the future, Input Temperature vs. Output Temperature plot experiment will be completed, and different orientations of the heat switch will be tested.

Document Type

Final Report

Author's School

McKelvey School of Engineering

Author's Department

Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science

Class Name

Mechanical Engineering and Material Sciences Independent Study

Date of Submission


Available for download on Saturday, December 13, 2025