Nanotech boosts thermoelectric effect
Date: Friday, March 21, 2008 @ 22:33:13 GMT
Topic: Science

By David Lee Rickman II

What happens when you smash bismuth antimony telluride into billions of smaller pieces? The EE Times reports that you solve a problem that has baffled engineers for around 50 years.

By crushing the semiconductor and reconstituting it in a bulk form with nanoscale constituents, a team from MIT and Boston College can conduct electricity without conducting so much heat, hence boosting thermoelectric efficiency.

This inexpensive nanostructure synthesis method can lead to cleaner, more efficient refrigerators, solar power plants and almost any other device that relies on the direct conversion of temperature differences to electric voltage and back again.

Smaller grains of the conducting material means more resistance to the heat flow. By scattering and redirect the heat, the new nanotech compound can be used either for cooling or generating electricity.

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