Energy now lost as heat during the production of electricity could be harnessed through the use of silicon nanowires synthesized via a technique developed by researchers with the U.S. Department of Energys (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) at Berkeley. The far-ranging potential applications of this technology include DOEs hydrogen fuel cell-powered Freedom CAR, and personal power-jackets that could use heat from the human body to recharge cell-phones and other electronic devices.
This is the first demonstration of high performance thermoelectric capability in silicon, an abundant semiconductor for which there already exists a multibillion dollar infrastructure for low-cost and high-yield processing and packaging, said Arun Majumdar, a mechanical engineer and materials scientist with joint appointments at Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley, who was one of the principal investigators behind this research.
Weve shown that its possible to achieve a large enhancement of thermoelectric energy efficiency at room temperature in rough silicon nanowires that have been processed by wafer-scale electrochemical synthesis, said chemist Peidong Yang, the other principal investigator behind this research, who also holds a joint Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley appointment.
Majumdar, who was recently appointed director of Berkeley Lab's Environmental Energy Technologies Division (EETD) and is a member of the Materials Sciences Division, is an expert on energy conversion and nanoscale science and engineering. Yang is a leading nanoscience authority with Berkeley Lab's Materials Sciences Division and with the UC Berkeley Chemistry Department.
Majumdar and Yang are the co-authors of a paper appearing in the January 10, 2008 edition of the journal Nature, entitled Enhanced Thermoelectric Performance of Rough Silicon Nanowires. Also co-authoring this paper were Allon Hochbaum, Renkun Chen, R
|Contact: Lynn Yarris|
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory