Monday, February 9, 2015

Nanotechnology Energizes, X 2!

A couple of news releases last week highlight energy-related developments from the world of nanotechnology.  The first excerpt, from The Foresight Institute, notes that a relatively simple improvement in a nanostructure resulted in massive increases in voltage output:
Sometimes very simple modifications of nanoscale structure can have large practical implications. Last month we noted the unexpected discovery of piezoelectricity in a molecular monolayer. The research noted today achieved a large increase in voltage output of a nanostructure several hundred nanometers thick (a vertically integrated nanogenerator, or VING) through the insertion of an insulating layer.
How large was the increase? 200X! Click here to read more. In the second development, researchers believe that thermoelectric nanowires could be developed that would allow car manufactures to use heat from exhaust fumes as a power source:
Researchers at Sandia National Labs have developed a manufacturing processcapable of controlling the crystal orientation, crystal size, and alloy uniformity of nanowires so that they could be used in a range of thermoelectric applications. 
Because thermoelectric materials are capable of generating an electrical current as a result of a difference in temperature between one side of the material and the other, the Sandia team believes the new nanowires could make it possible for carmakers to harvest power from the heat wasted by exhaust systems or lead to more efficient devices for cooling computer chips
This is also an interesting article; click here to access it.