Researchers at the Carnegie Institution have discovered a new efficient way to pump heat using crystals. The crystals can pump or extract heat, even on the nanoscale, so they could be used on computer chips to prevent overheating or even meltdown, which is currently a major limit to higher computer speeds. The research is published in the Physical Review Letters.
Ronald Cohen, staff scientist at Carnegie's Geophysical Laboratory and Maimon Rose, originally a high school intern now at the University of Chicago carried out the research. They performed simulations on ferroelectric crystals—materials that have electrical polarization in the absence of an electric field. The electrical polarization can be reversed by applying an external electrical field. The scientists found that the introduction of an electric field causes a giant temperature change in the material, dubbed the electrocaloric effect, far above a temperature to a so-called paraelectric state.
"The electrocaloric effect pumps heat through changing temperature by way of an applied electric field," explained Cohen. "The effect has been known since the 1930s, but has not been exploited because people were using materials with high transition temperatures. We found that the effect is larger if the ambient temperature is well above the transition temperature, so low transition temperature materials are preferred."
Ferroelectrics become paraelectric—that is, have no polarization under zero electric field above their transition temperature, which is the temperature at which a material changes its state from ferroelectric to paraelectric.
Rose and Cohen used atomic-scale molecular dynamics simulations, where they followed the behavior of atoms in the ferroelectric lithium niobate as functions of temperature and an electrical field. Maimon Rose started this work as a high school summer intern and is now in his second year as an undergraduate in biology at the University of Chicago. He worked on the project during breaks as an intern supported by EFree, DOE Energy Frontier Research Center at the Geophysical Laboratory. Rose remarked, "Lithium niobate had not been studied before like this. We were pretty surprised to see such a huge temperature change."
Carnegie Institution: http://www.ciw.edu
This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.
Scientists use satellite imagery to track changes in the islands that formed after two spectacular undersea eruptions
More than 2 kilometres underwater, this towering array of natural chimneys, known as black smokers, spews out mineral-rich superheated water, nurturing life
Wolf volcano erupts for first time in 33 years; could threaten park made famous by Charles Darwin
Popular myth has long credited New York's soft water for the city's irresistibly crusty, chewy bagels. But the chemistry behind a superior bagel is more complicated.
A powerful earthquake in Italy killed hundreds of people—and set in motion a legal battle and scientific debate that has kept seismologists on edge
The Large Hadron Collider is smashing protons at the highest energy ever attempted - but they are only test collisions, as the LHC continues to gear up its second run.
Separate sections of one of New Zealand's biggest faults appear to have ruptured simultaneously in the past, suggesting a huge quake there is possible in the future
In a central London pub, a young bearded physicist is demonstrating how to build a model of the universe from plastic Lego bricks. Clue: you need a lot of them.
Kim Jong-un's nuclear ambitions aren't the only reason a nuke-free world is looking more like a pipe dream. All nuclear states are currently upgrading their arsenals
A new study shows many animals can make their own sunscreen, which could help humans down the line