January 12, 2009
Silicon nanoparticles promise
more electricity from heat
Add nanoparticles to a mix of silicon
and germanium and you can more than double the amount of electricity
the material generates from heat.
A simulation of thermoelectric materials -- metals or semiconductors
that convert heat to electricity -- shows that silicon germanium that
contains silicon alloy nanoparticles is two and a half times more
effective at converting heat to electricity at 625° Celsius than pure
silicon germanium. The material's figure-of-merit -- its heat conversion
efficiency -- is 1.7 at 625° Celsius, which is enough to generate
useful amounts of electricity.
Silicon germanium is widely used in computer chips and electronics,
and the proposed thermoelectric materials promises to be easy to incorporate
into existing devices and manufacturing processes.
The material could be used to recover energy lost as waste
heat in internal combustion engines, factories and power plants.
Approach to Efficient Thermoelectrics: Silicides in SiGe
Nano Letters, published online January 7, 2009
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efficiency doubled -- related research
nano boosts thermoelectrics -- related research
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