Sep 11, 2020

‘Floppy’ atomic dynamics help turn heat into electricity

Posted by in categories: computing, transportation

Materials scientists at Duke University have uncovered an atomic mechanism that makes certain thermoelectric materials incredibly efficient near high-temperature phase transitions. The information will help fill critical knowledge gaps in the computational modeling of such materials, potentially allowing researchers to discover new and better options for technologies that rely on transforming heat into electricity.

The results appear online on September 4 in the journal Nature Communications.

Thermoelectric materials convert heat into electricity when electrons migrate from the hot side of the material to the cold side. Because providing a temperature difference between its two sides is required, researchers are interested in trying to use these materials to generate electricity from the heat of a car’s tailpipe or recovering energy lost as heat in power plants.

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