Smart watches, smart glasses, Fitbits... smart technology is everywhere today! The market for wearables has become inundated with version after version of different accessories to mass-market. There is constant improvement happening in the industry and everyone's competing to be the first-to-market with the latest and greatest.Continue reading →
Space exploration is a topic that has piqued the world’s interest since Apollo landed on the moon in the 60s. There are so many questions around space travel, the preparation, mission details and much more. But have you ever asked yourself how these missions are powered?
Lucky for you, we’ve just become resident experts in powering spacecrafts. Missions, past and future, have been made possible through the use of radioisotope thermoelectric technology - an incredible source of energy responsible for powering the most historic voyages of our time.
With climate change posing an increasing threat to our environment, scientists believe pressure in thermoelectric generators and thermionic emissions could be the solution.
These alternative energy sources have provided renewable power by recycling “wasted” heat. Examples of this technology are found in gas pipelines and spacecraft. While this has contributed a sizable reduction in the nation’s energy budget, it still hasn’t reached its full potential. The flaw in current thermoelectric compounds is that it only truly succeeds at high heat. Better performance at room temperature is actually the most critical form of renewable energy, but that hasn’t seen improvement in 60 years.
Scientist Liu-Cheng Chen hypothesized that combining pressure and charged chromium particles with lead selenide would produce this greater form of thermoelectric energy. He proved his theory by placing the lead selenide under 30x greater the normal atmospheric pressure. This caused certain changes at the atomic level and produced the most efficient level of room temp thermoelectric generation to date.
Another example of this groundbreaking discovery is thermionic emission of graphene. Thermionic emission happens when a metal is heated and electrons are shot out of the surface. Historically, these emissions have been used to power vacuums and has been experimented with heavily. Emissions from graphene are especially unique because the material is a nanomaterial that’s atomically thin, making it an unusual candidate for this type of energy generation.
Researchers at Singapore University of Technology and Design have created a new general framework to capture thermionic emissions in graphene. Undergrad student, Yueyi Chin, stated that traditional methods of recording this energy can be up to 50% inaccurate! This new theoretical framework helps decrease that inaccuracy by accounting for graphene’s reaction at higher energy states. The electronic properties of graphene are no longer the mystery it used to be. With this new thermionic emission model, we can better see the potential of graphene materials and devices.
Graphene thermionic emissions and pressurized materials will enable scientists to further experiment ways to create renewable energy and reduce our carbon footprint.
Current implanted medical devices, including pacemakers, have an enormous drawback due to their limited battery life. If a patient’s battery within their medical device runs out of power unexpectedly, it can have serious health implicants. This shortcoming restricts the ability for long term usage, but there may be a solution- the human body itself.Continue reading →
In the realm of thermoelectric technology, there is an ongoing exploration for better, more efficient materials. Scientists keep hard at work testing, hypothesizing, and theorizing about ways to make devices that can withstand higher temperatures, pressures, with a higher energy output, and can function at smaller temperature differences.Continue reading →
NASA recently announced it will be concluding its first ever Mars rover mission after the rover has been out of service for nearly a year. The Mars rover, Opportunity, will be forever known as the longest living robot on another planet to date. Amongst its accomplishments include, photographing Mars red plains and revealing a land previously unknown to man.Continue reading →
What do you know about how a thermoelectric generator is constructed? Do you understand the Seebeck and Peltier Effects? What about how thermoelectric technology can be applied in different industries? Ok, last question. What do you know about the materials used in the construction of these devices?Continue reading →
We’ve talked before about how thermoelectric technologies are present in the medical, aerospace, and defense industries as a reliable and efficient energy source. There are some amazing things that can be accomplished in these industries with the help of our technology, but there are more common applications as well. So much so, that these devices can be applied to something that most of us use every single day - cars.Continue reading →
NASA has been busy at work engineering a robot assigned with the task of journeying to the Red Planet. It is different from the Mars rovers, such as Spirit and Opportunity, as it has a totally different task at hand. This NASA robot named InSight is a lander, with a specific duty to explore what lies below the planet’s surface. It has been busy at work since it touched down in late 2018.Continue reading →