Nav: Home

Electron sandwich doubles thermoelectric performance

June 20, 2018

Researchers more than doubled the ability of a material to convert heat into electricity, which could help reduce the amount of wasted heat, and thus wasted fossil fuel, in daily activities and industries.

Researchers from Hokkaido University and their colleagues in Japan and Taiwan have improved the ability to transform wasted heat into usable electricity by significantly narrowing the space through which spread electrons move, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Communications.

More than 60 percent of energy produced by fossil fuels is lost as waste heat. One way to address this problem is to convert the wasted heat into electricity, known as thermoelectric energy conversion. However, improving the conversion rate has been difficult because of a trade-off relationship between the required properties within the material.

Thermoelectric materials convert heat into electricity when there is a temperature difference, a phenomenon known as the Seebeck effect. Scientists have been investigating ways to confine electrons to a narrow space as a way to enhance conversion rates. In 2007, researchers built an artificial superlattice composed of conducting ultrathin layers sandwiched by thick insulating layers. This method yielded higher voltage but did not improve conversion rates. Researchers have predicted that performance can be significantly improved if electrons with longer de Broglie wavelength, which means they are more spread, are confined into a narrow conducting layer, but it had not yet been proven experimentally.

The research team, led by Hiromichi Ohta of Hokkaido University, designed a superlattice in which electrons are spread by 30 percent wider as compared to previous experiments. This resulted in much higher voltage and doubled the thermoelectric conversion rate recorded from previous methods.

"This is a significant step forward towards reducing the amount of heat wasted by power plants, factories, automobiles, computers, and even human bodies" says Hiromichi Ohta of Hokkaido University.
-end-


Hokkaido University

Related Electrons Articles:

Deceleration of runaway electrons paves the way for fusion power
Fusion power has the potential to provide clean and safe energy that is free from carbon dioxide emissions.
Shining light on low-energy electrons
The classic method for studying how electrons interact with matter is by analyzing their scattering through thin layers of a known substance.
Ultrafast nanophotonics: Turmoil in sluggish electrons' existence
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behavior of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time.
NASA mission uncovers a dance of electrons in space
NASA's MMS mission studies how electrons spiral and dive around the planet in a complex dance dictated by the magnetic and electric fields, and a new study revealed a bizarre new type of motion exhibited by these electrons.
'Hot' electrons don't mind the gap
Rice University scientists discover that 'hot' electrons can create a photovoltage about a thousand times larger than ordinary temperature differences in nanoscale gaps in gold wires.
Electrons used to control ultrashort laser pulses
We may soon get better insight into the microcosm and the world of electrons.
Supercool electrons
Study of electron movement on helium may impact the future of quantum computing.
Two electrons go on a quantum walk and end up in a qudit
There is a variety of physical systems that can be used to implement a separate quantum bit, but significantly less research has been done into systems of several qubits or qudits.
Radiation that knocks electrons out and down, one after another
Researchers at Japan's Tohoku University are investigating novel ways by which electrons are knocked out of matter.
Controlling electrons in time and space
A new method has been developed to control electrons being emitted from metal tips.

Related Electrons Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Bias And Perception
How does bias distort our thinking, our listening, our beliefs... and even our search results? How can we fight it? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas about the unconscious biases that shape us. Guests include writer and broadcaster Yassmin Abdel-Magied, climatologist J. Marshall Shepherd, journalist Andreas Ekström, and experimental psychologist Tony Salvador.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#513 Dinosaur Tails
This week: dinosaurs! We're discussing dinosaur tails, bipedalism, paleontology public outreach, dinosaur MOOCs, and other neat dinosaur related things with Dr. Scott Persons from the University of Alberta, who is also the author of the book "Dinosaurs of the Alberta Badlands".