Thin film converts heat from electronics into energy


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If you're sat at your PC reading this, then chances are you can hear the fan in your computer whirring away (hopefully not too loudly). We all know that electronics generate heat, and a team of engineers have now developed a way to harness this wasted energy and turn it into something useful.

Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley, have developed a thin-film system that can be applied to sources of waste heat like these to produce energy at levels unprecedented for this kind of technology.

The thin-film system uses a process called pyroelectric energy conversion, which the engineers' new study demonstrates is well suited for tapping into waste-heat energy supplies below 100 degrees Celsius, called low-quality waste heat. Pyroelectric energy conversion, like many systems that turn heat into energy, works best using thermodynamic cycles, kind of like how a car engine works. But unlike the engine in your car, pyroelectric energy conversion can be realized entirely in the solid state with no moving parts as it turns waste heat into electricity.

The new results suggest that this nanoscopic thin-film technology might be particularly attractive for installing on and harvesting waste heat from high-speed electronics but could have a large scope of applications.

Read more about it here.
 

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