Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Heat and light get larger at the nanoscale

01.04.2016

Columbia-led research team first to demonstrate a strong, non-contact heat transfer channel using light with performances that could lead to high efficiency electricity generation

In a new study recently published in Nature Nanotechnology, researchers from Columbia Engineering, Cornell, and Stanford have demonstrated heat transfer can be made 100 times stronger than has been predicted, simply by bringing two objects extremely close--at nanoscale distances--without touching. Led by Columbia Engineering's Michal Lipson and Stanford Engineering's Shanhui Fan, the team used custom-made ultra-high precision micro-mechanical displacement controllers to achieve heat transfer using light at the largest magnitude reported to date between two parallel objects.


This is a schematic of two beams at different temperatures exchanging heat using light. In the situation when the beams are far from each other (left), heat transfer resulting from thermal radiation is small. When the beams are brought very close from each other (right) heat transfer becomes almost 100 times larger than predicted by conventional thermal radiation laws.

Credit: Raphael St-Gelais, Lipson Nanophotonics Group, Columbia Engineering

"At separations as small as 40 nanometers, we achieved almost a 100-fold enhancement of heat transfer compared to classical predictions," says Lipson, Eugene Higgins Professor of Electrical Engineering and professor of applied physics. "This is very exciting as it means that light could now become a dominant heat transfer channel between objects that usually exchange heat mostly through conduction or convection. And, while other teams have demonstrated heat transfer using light at the nanoscale before, we are the first to reach performances that could be used for energy applications, such as directly converting heat to electricity using photovoltaic cells."

All objects in our environment exchange heat with their surroundings using light. This includes the light coming at us from the sun, the glowing red color of the heating element inside our toaster ovens, or the "night vision" cameras that enable image recording even in complete darkness. But heat exchange using light is usually very weak compared to what can be achieved by conduction (i.e., by simply putting two objects in contact with each other) or by convection (i.e., using hot air). Radiative heat transfer at nanoscale distances, while theorized, has been especially challenging to achieve because of the difficulty of maintaining large thermal gradients over nanometer-scale distances while avoiding other heat transfer mechanisms like conduction.

Lipson's team was able to bring objects at different temperatures very close to each other--at distances smaller than 100 nanometers, or 1/1000th of the diameter of a strand of human hair. They were able to demonstrate near-field radiative heat transfer between parallel SiC (silicon carbide) nanobeams in the deep sub-wavelength regime. They used a high-precision micro-electromechanical system (MEMS) to control the distance between the beams and exploited the mechanical stability of nanobeams under high tensile stress to minimize thermal buckling effects, thus keeping control of the nanometer-scale separation even at large thermal gradients.

Using this approach, the team was able to bring two parallel objects at different temperatures to distances as small as 42 nm without touching. In this case they observed that the heat transfer between the objects was close to 100 times stronger that what is predicted by conventional thermal radiation laws (i.e. "blackbody radiation"). They were able to repeat this experiment for temperature differences as high as 260oC (500oF) between the two objects. Such high temperature difference is especially important for energy conversion applications since, in these cases, the conversion efficiency is always proportional to the thermal difference between the hot and the cold objects involved.

"An important implication of our work is that thermal radiation can now be used as a dominant heat transfer mechanism between objects at different temperatures," explains Raphael St-Gelais, the study's lead author and postdoctoral fellow working with Lipson at Columbia Engineering. "This means that we can control heat flow with a lot of the same techniques we have for manipulating light. This is a big deal since there are a lot of interesting things we can do with light, such as converting it to electricity using photovoltaic cells."

St-Gelais and Linxiao Zhu, who co-authored the study and is a PhD candidate in Fan's group at Stanford, note that the team's approach can be scaled up to a larger effective area by simply arraying several nanobeams--on top of a photovoltaic cell, for example--and by individually controlling their out-of-plane displacement using MEMS actuators. The researchers are now looking at applying their same approach for ultra-high-precision displacement control, this time with an actual photovoltaic cell to generate electricity directly from heat.

"This very strong, non-contact, heat transfer channel could be used for controlling the temperature of delicate nano devices that cannot be touched, or for very efficiently converting heat to electricity by radiating large amounts of heat from a hot object to a photovoltaic cell in its extreme proximity," Lipson adds. "And if we can shine a large amount of heat in the form of light from a hot object to a photovoltaic cell, we could potentially create compact modules for direct conversion of heat to electrical power. These modules could be used inside cars, for instance, to convert wasted heat from the combustion engine back to useful electrical power. We could also use them in our homes to generate electricity from alternative energy sources such as biofuels and stored solar energy."

###

The work received funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for award FA8650-14-1-7406 as well as additional support from the Fonds de recherche du Québec?Nature et Technologies (FRQNT) and from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

LINKS

Study -- dx.doi.org/10.1038/nnano.2016.20

http://www.engineering.columbia.edu/

http://apam.columbia.edu/michal-lipson-0

http://lipson.ee.columbia.edu/

http://web.stanford.edu/group/fan/

Holly Evarts | EurekAlert!

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Waste from paper and pulp industry supplies raw material for development of new redox flow batteries
12.10.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Low-cost battery from waste graphite
11.10.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>