Voltage Fluctuations Converted to Electricity
Date: Tuesday, April 14, 2015 @ 01:59:16 EDT
From physics.aps.org, Focus: Voltage Fluctuations Converted to Electricity
Published April 10, 2015 | Physics 8, 32 (2015) | DOI: 10.1103/Physics.8.32
In a step toward the conversion of excess heat into electric current, researchers demonstrate a device that generates current in response to voltage fluctuations that mimic heat.
The waste heat generated in today’s electronic circuits limits efforts at miniaturization and at improving energy efficiency. Engineers hope to someday use that heat as an energy source, and now a team of physicists has demonstrated a step toward such energy harvesting. Their microscopic device extracts useful energy from tiny voltage fluctuations that mimic excess heat. They hope the results will lead to a general technology for nanoscale energy harvesting, which could provide the foundation for a new generation of ultra-efficient devices.
Waste heat creates temperature differences—hot and cold spots in a material—and researchers for several decades have been developing ways to get energy back from such differences. A wire placed across a temperature difference can generate an electric current if the wire is made of a so-called thermoelectric material. However, in such “two terminal” devices, the physical connection lets heat as well as electricity flow from hot to cold, thereby eroding the temperature difference...
Full article: http://physics.aps.org/articles/v8/32