Engineers Develop Chip Converting Thermal Radiation into Electricity

Sunday, July 14, 2019 - 11:15

Engineers from University of Utah have developed a chip that can convert wasted heat to usable energy.

According to the Science Daily report, engineers have created a silicon chip, also known as a 'device,' that converts more thermal radiation into electricity.

University of Utah mechanical engineering associate professor, Mathieu Francoeur’s findings was published in the paper, A Near-Field Radiative Heat Transfer Device, in the newest issue of Nature Nanotechnology.

Francoeur and his team produced a 5mm-by-5mm chip (about the size of an eraser head) of two silicon wafers with a nanoscopic gap between them only 100 nanometers thick, or a thousandth the thickness of a human hair.

While the chip was in a vacuum, they heated one surface and cooled another surface, which created a heat flux that can generate electricity.

The concept of creating energy in this manner is not unique, but Francoeur and his team have discovered a way to fit the two silicon surfaces uniformly close together at a microscopic scale without touching each other. The closer they are to each other, the more electricity they can generate.

This could lead to devices such as laptop computers and cell phones with much longer battery life and solar panels that are much more efficient at converting radiant heat to energy.

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