Nanostructured Thermoelectric Devices (And John W. Campbell, Jr.)
Nanostructured thermoelectric devices may have a wide variety of practical applications, according to scientists Heiner Linke and Tammy Humphrey.
Thermoelectric materials try to recover this energy by converting it to electricity, but they don't work very well if the flow of heat is uncontrolled. The breakthrough presented by Humphrey and Linke involves controlling the motion of electrons using materials that are structured on the nanoscale.
"The idea is to play one type of non-equilibrium (the temperature difference) against another one," Linke explains.
Humphrey and Linke have shown that if an electrical voltage is applied to an electrical system in addition to a temperature difference, it is possible to harness electrons having a specific energy. This means that if a nanostructured material is designed to only allow electrons with this particular energy to flow, a novel type of equilibrium is achieved in which electrons do not spontaneously ferry heat from hot to cold.
"This delicate balance may have huge practical importance because it means that thermoelectric devices, which use electrical contact between hot and cold regions in a semiconductor to transform heat into useful electrical energy, can be operated near equilibrium," says Humphrey. "This is a key requirement for cranking up their efficiency toward the Carnot limit, the maximum efficiency possible for any heat engine."
(From Scientists discover a better way to generate power from thermal sources)
This technology could make a whole range of devices possible:
In his 1935 story Blindness, John W. Campbell, Jr. wrote about a material called thermlectrium, a metal alloy with a very special microscopic structure that allowed it to convert heat directly to electricity using waste heat, or even the heat of the open air.
- from refrigeration without pumps
- long-term battery-powered "cold packs"
- PCs without power fans
- Recovered energy from wasteful applications like car engines.
"Every home, every store, every man, has his private thermlectrium element. Every car and every vehicle is powered by it."
(Read more about thermlectrium)
Read more about it from Scientists discover a better way to generate power from thermal sources; see also the related story from a very interesting blog at Reversible thermoelectric nanomaterials. Thanks to Winchell Chung for the idea for this story.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 4/7/2005)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 1 )
Related News Stories -
Smellicopter Combines Live Moth Antenna With Mechanical Drone
'The organic tissue is inserted in the master tank and then sealed.' - Philip K. Dick, 1955.
DARPA's Virtual Caves Explored By Virtual Robots
'If there's anything in here worth looking at, these pups'll find it.' - Ridley Scott, 2012.
Samsung Gets Transparent Smartphone Patent
The Transparency of Things to Come
Jet-Powered Flying Suits Tested By Navy
'With his motor in operation, he moves like a diver, head foremost...' - Philip Frances Nowlan, 1928.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Las Vegas Tunnels To Have Autonomous Teslas
'...just a steady velvety whirr as the taxi sped along.'
TCL CSOT 17-Inch Printed OLED Scrolling Display
'..a wide sheet of clear material suddenly flared with light and swirling colour.'
Reachy Humanoid VR Teleoperation App
"I went to the control room where the three other men were manipulating their mechanical men...'
Unitree A1 Robot ala Black Mirror and Snow Crash
'The legs are long, curled way up to deliver power...'
DALL-E Makes Creative Images From Text
Okay, sf fans. If you could have some art created from a science fiction sentence, what sentence would you pick?
BladeBUG Robots Clean Massive Wind Turbine Blades
'There were the cleaners, with large padded feet, who were apparently polishing their way the whole length...'
Looms To Manually Weave Lunar Rover Wheels
It's fascinating to me how the Apollo program forced people to think outside their usual boxes.
IceBot Antarctic (Planetary?) Robotic Explorers Made Of Ice
'Some will combine in place to form more complicated structures, like excavators or centipedes.'
Glad 2020 Is Over
Maybe you missed one of these?
PEDOT Polymer Could Enhance Brain-Machine Interfaces
'the hair-fine wire going deep into Owen's brain, down into the pleasure center.'
Study: Robots Encourage Humans To Take Risks
Not exactly Three Laws compliant.
Kinetic Buildings And Psychotropic Houses
'There was a dim whirring, and the spheres tipped and began to rotate...'
Jupe Urban Escape Pods Have Tesla, SpaceX Roots
'The houses are prefabricated units... and they sell at the flat rate of five hundred dollars a room — set up.'
Best Robot Dance Video Of 2020
'I can Mashed Potato... I can do the Twist.'
Vertical Farm In Singapore's Output Is 1.5 Tons Per Day
'A towering eighty-story structure like the office "In-and-Out" baskets stacked up to the sky.'
3D Printed 'Blisk' Manufactured In Orbit
'It can be mass-produced only in the orbiting factories...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories