Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Tufts Engineering Professor Wins NSF Career Award for Thermophotovoltaic Research

08.04.2011
Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Tom Vandervelde has been awarded an early-career award from the National Science Foundation for promising research on the conversion of heat to electricity.

Vandervelde, the John A. and Dorothy Adams Faculty Development Professor, will use the $400,000, five year award to continue his studies in thermophotovoltaics (TPVs)—cells that convert thermal energy, or heat, into electricity. His research has implications for a new class of green technologies.

"Right now, heat sources have to be in excess of 1500 degrees Celsius in order for TPVs to work efficiently," says Vandervelde. His goal is to make TPVs more efficient at lower temperatures, and ultimately, convert heat to electricity at a cool 37 degrees Celsius—or the temperature of the human body. This could have potential use in medical devices, such as a pacemaker that keeps a charge from the electricity generated by one's own body heat.

In a TPV system, when a photon—an energy packet of light or heat—strikes the TPV a charge carrier pair is created that generates an electron and subsequently electricity.

But if the charge carriers recombine, a photon is re-emitted and is lost as light or heat. "Every time that recombination happens, that's less energy you get out and in the end that lowers your overall efficiency," says Vandervelde.

By using recent advances in infrared photodetectors, Vandervelde will investigate the use of a novel photodiode structure that contains a barrier which prevents recombination of the charge carriers. This allows the particles to flow out of the cell as unimpeded electrical current.

"By putting the barriers in, we end up separating where those charge carriers are so they end up not spending a lot of time near each other," says Vandervelde. "It makes recombination far less likely to occur, which means that you end up getting out a lot more current for the same amount of light coming in."

More efficient TPVs could also be used to recoup the heat lost to keep massive computer data server farms cool. "The realization of cooler-running, more energy-efficient, server farms—which occupy 20% of energy consumption off the energy grid in some locations— alone will change the very nature of our nation's energy needs in a positive way," he says.

"The ability to harness the ubiquitous waste heat represents a significant jump forward to our becoming a truly green society," Vandervelde says.

Tufts University, located on three Massachusetts campuses in Boston, Medford/Somerville, and Grafton, and in Talloires, France, is recognized among the premier research universities in the United States. Tufts enjoys a global reputation for academic excellence and for the preparation of students as leaders in a wide range of professions. A growing number of teaching and research initiatives span all Tufts campuses, and collaboration among the faculty and students in the undergraduate, graduate and professional programs across the university's schools is widely encouraged.

Tufts University School of Engineering is uniquely positioned to educate the technological leaders of tomorrow. Located on Tufts' Medford/Somerville campus, the School of Engineering offers the best of a liberal arts college atmosphere coupled with the intellectual and technological resources of a world-class research-intensive university. Its goals are to educate engineers who are committed to the innovative and ethical application of technology to solve societal problems, and to be a leader among peer institutions in targeted areas of interdisciplinary research and education. Strategic areas of emphasis include programs in bioengineering, sustainability, and innovation in engineering education.

Alexander Reid | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.tufts.edu

Further reports about: Career Ferchau Engineering Merit Award TPV Thermophotovoltaic

More articles from Awards Funding:

nachricht Yuan Chang and Patrick Moore win prize for the discovery of two cancer viruses
14.03.2017 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

nachricht BMBF funding for diabetes research on pancreas chip
08.02.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

All articles from Awards Funding >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>