Department Contact Information

Physics Department

Location: 180-204
Phone: (805) 756-2448
Fax: (805) 756-2435
Chair: Jennifer Klay

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Nathan Heston

Nathan Heston

Full-Time Lecturer

Office: 180-604
Phone: 805-756-7658


  • Ph.D., University of Florida, 2008
  • M.S., University of Florida, 2005
  • B.S., Millersville University, 2002

Research Interests

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Sustainability/Sustainable Technology


Together with my students, I conduct research focusing on the behavior of bimetallic shells in their role as snap-acting bimetallic discs (SABMDs). We investigate thermal deformations of the discs and how these deformations lead to the rapid transition (snap) between concave and convex equilibrium states. Our research group has developed a method of producing SABMDs which we’ve utilized to produce the world’s largest snap discs. This larger class of discs transition on a slower time scale and our group is the first to use high speed photography to capture in detail the transition of a bimetallic disc. We are also exploring these larger discs as energy conversion devices.

Sustainable Technology- My research background includes research in polymer solar cells, and I am currently interested in applications of photovoltaic technology. I serve as he advisor of an engineers without borders student club which is focusing on bringing solar electric and refrigeration technology to a village in rural Thailand. This project has peaked my interest in off-grid cooling systems and I am conducting research into the use of the Peltier Effect to create an off-grid direct drive freezer system which incorporates phase transition materials for storing energy. Previously to coming to Cal Poly, I spent four years living in Ghana, West Africa, first as a teacher and then later on a rural off-grid farm. I am aware of the challenges of off-grid living and am interested in technologies targeting off-grid solutions.

If you are interested in knowing more about these projects, please don’t hesitate to contact me using my email address.

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