At the Vienna University of Technology, a new class of thermoelectric materials has been discovered.
Due to a surprising physical effect they can be used to create electricity more efficiently.
A lot of energy is wasted when machines turn hot, unnecessarily heating up their environment. Some of this thermal energy could be harvested using thermoelectric materials; they create electric current when they are used to bridge hot and cold objects. At the Vienna University of Technology (TU Vienna), a new and considerably more efficient class of thermoelectric materials can now be produced. It is the material’s very special crystal structure that does the trick, in connection with an astonishing new physical effect; in countless tiny cages within the crystal, cerium atoms are enclosed. These trapped magnetic atoms are constantly rattling the bars of their cage, and this rattling seems to be responsible for the material’s exceptionally favourable properties.
Cerium Cages from the Mirror Oven
“Clathrates” is the technical term for crystals, in which host atoms are enclosed in cage-like spaces. “These clathrates show remarkable thermal properties”, says Professor Silke Bühler-Paschen (TU Vienna). The exact behaviour of the material depends on the interaction between the trapped atoms and the cage surrounding them. “We came up with the idea to trap cerium atoms, because their magnetic properties promised particularly interesting kinds of interaction”, explains Bühler-Paschen.
For a long time, this task seemed impossible. All earlier attempts to incorporate magnetic atoms such as the rare-earth metal cerium into the clathrate structures failed. With the help of a sophisticated crystal growth technique in a mirror oven, Professor Andrey Prokofiev (TU Vienna) has now succeeded in creating clathrates made of barium, silicon and gold, encapsulating single cerium atoms.
Electricity from Temperature Differences
The thermoelectric properties of the novel material have been tested. Thermoelectrics work when they connect something hot with something cold: “The thermal motion of the electrons in the material depends on the temperature”, explains Bühler-Paschen. “On the hot side, there is more thermal motion than on the cold side, so the electrons diffuse towards the colder region. Therefore, a voltage is created between the two sides of the thermoelectric material.”
Experiments show that the cerium atoms increase the material’s thermopower by 50%, so a much higher voltage can be obtained. Furthermore, the thermal conductivity of clathrates is very low. This is also important, because otherwise the temperatures on either side would equilibrate, and no voltage would remain.
The Latest on: Thermoelectric materials
- New Smart Garments Powered by Body Heat on February 22, 2019 at 2:40 am
“What we have developed is a way to inexpensively vapor-print biocompatible, flexible, and lightweight polymer films made of everyday, abundant materials onto cotton fabrics that have high enough ther... […]
- How to freeze heat conduction on February 21, 2019 at 9:03 am
The thermoelectric effect can turn waste heat into electrical energy. To make use of it, special materials with unusual properties are required. A remarkable effect has now been demonstrated, which ca... […]
- Kondo-like phonon scattering in thermoelectric clathrates on February 21, 2019 at 2:25 am
This insight devises design strategies to further suppress the thermal conductivity of clathrates and other related materials classes, with relevance for thermoelectric waste heat recovery and, more g... […]
- Korean Researchers Develop Low-cost, High-efficiency Thermoelectric Material on February 20, 2019 at 9:17 pm
A new thermoelectric material technology that converts thermal energy into electrical energy has been developed, making it possible to manufacture high-performance thermoelectric thin films using an e... […]
- University of Virginia School of Engineering Partners with Rolls-Royce to Boost Jet Engine Efficiency on February 20, 2019 at 12:35 pm
A multidisciplinary team is seeking to identify and develop thermoelectric materials that can harness excess energy--and save millions of dollars in the process. Patrick Hopkins, professor and a ... […]
- Global Thermoelectric market to see radical growth of 5.2% CAGR on February 15, 2019 at 12:56 am
News from QY Research, Inc. Los Angeles, United State, Feb 15, 2019– QY Research always aims at offering their clients an in-depth analysis and the best research material of the various market. This n... […]
- Designing chemical analogs to PbTe with intrinsic high band degeneracy and low lattice thermal conductivity on February 12, 2019 at 2:39 am
High-efficiency thermoelectric materials require simultaneously high power factors and low thermal conductivities. Aligning band extrema to achieve high band degeneracy, as realized in PbTe, is one of ... […]
- Theories describe dynamically disordered solid materials on February 11, 2019 at 8:21 am
Materials that are good ionic conductors are, for example, promising in the development of solid electrolytes for batteries and fuel cells, and for thermoelectric applications. However, the properties ... […]
- Global Automotive Thermoelectric Generator Market (2022-2028) with Focus on Materials, Components, Vehicle Type and Region - ResearchAndMarkets.com on February 5, 2019 at 4:00 am
DUBLIN--(Business Wire)--The "Global Automotive Thermoelectric Generator Market: Focus on Materials, Components, Vehicle Type, and Region - Analysis and Forecast (2022-2028)" report has been added to ... […]
- New thermoelectric material delivers record performance on January 17, 2019 at 12:48 pm
Thermodynamic stability calculation. Calculated stability of the V1-VIII-V2 family (with V1 = V, Nb, and Ta; VIII = Fe, Ru, and Os; and V2 = As, Sb, and Bi) of half-Heusler compounds. a V1-VIII-As, b ... […]
via Google News and Bing News