Azure D. Avery

Postdoctoral Research Scientist

(303) 384-7909
At NREL Since: 

Azure Avery received her Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Denver. Her studies focused on the coupling between heat, charge, and spin in ferromagnetic thin films, under the supervision of Dr. Barry Zink. As a part of her dissertation research, Dr. Avery probed thermoelectric effects such as the Seebeck effect and the Peltier effect, and demonstrated that the planar Nernst effect, rather than the expected spin Seebeck effect, is responsible for the transverse voltage generated when an applied thermal gradient is confined to the plane of a ferromagnetic thin film. These results are of fundamental interest to the field of thermal transport. They are also extremely important to the emerging subfield of physics known as spin caloritronics, which seeks to develop technological devices that consume less power and offer faster processing capabilities.

Dr. Avery is now a postdoctoral researcher at NREL working with Drs. Andrew Ferguson and Jeffrey Blackburn to establish a research program to probe the thermoelectric efficiency of novel composite systems composed of cheap semiconductor materials, such as single-walled carbon nanotubes suspended in a polymer matrix. This will require the development of an experimental technique to measure electrical and thermal transport in the semiconductor materials. Thermoelectric materials hold promise as an inexpensive, pollution-free energy alternative by converting waste heat into electricity. However, the low efficiency and high cost of current thermoelectric materials is prohibitive for widespread commercial application. Composite systems such as carbon nanotubes suspended in conducting polymers offer possibilities as low cost materials in which the thermal and electrical transport channels are decoupled resulting in improved thermoelectric efficiency.

Research Interests 

  • Thermal and electrical transport in thin films and nanostructures
  • Thermoelectric energy conversion
  • Carbon nanotube synthesis and characterization
  • Polymer composites, metallic, and ferromagnetic thin film characterization
  • Coupling between charge, heat, and spin in meso- and nanoscale systems


  • Ph.D., University of Denver

Selected Publications 

  1. Avery, A.D.; Pufall, M.R.; Zink, B.L. (2012). "Observation of the Planar Nernst Effect in Permalloy and Nickel Thin Films with In-plane Thermal Gradients." Physical Review Letters (109:19); p. 196602.
  2. Avery, A.D.; Pufall, M.R.; Zink, B.L. (2012). "Determining the Planar Nernst Effect from Magnetic Field Dependent Thermopower and Resistance in Nickel and Permalloy Thin Films." Physical Review B (86:18); p. 184408.
  3. Avery, A.D.; Sultan, Rubina; Bassett, D; Wei, D.; Zink, B.L. (2011). "Thermopower and Resistivity in Ferromagnetic Thin Films Near Room Temperature." Physical Review B Rapid Communications (83:10); p. 100401.
  4. Zink, B.L.; Avery, A.D.; Sultan, R.; Bassett, D.; Pufall, M.R. (2010). "Exploring Thermoelectric Effects and Wiedemann-Franz Violation in Magnetic Nanostructures via Micromachined Thermal Platforms." Solid State Communications (150:11-12); pp. 514-519.
  5. Sultan, Rubina; Avery, A.D.; Stiehl, G.; Zink B.L. (2009). "Thermal Conductivity of Micromachined Low-stress Silicon-nitride Beams from 77 to 325 K." Journal of Applied Physics (105:4); p. 043501.