How To Use Computers Heat To Generate Electricity

Electronic devices such as computers generate heat that mostly goes to waste. Physicists at Bielefeld University (Germany) have found a way to use this energy: They apply the heat to generate magnetic signals known as ‘spin currents’. In future, these signals could replace some of the electrical current in electronic components. In a new study, the physicists tested which materials can generate this spin current most effectively from heat. The research was carried out in cooperation with colleagues from the University of Greifswald, Gießen University, and the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research in Dresden.

The Bielefeld physicists are working on the basic principles for making data processing more effective and energy-efficient in the young field of ‘spin caloritronics’. They are members of the ‘Thin Films & Physics of Nanostructures’ research group headed by Professor Dr. Günter Reiss. Their new study determines the strength of the spin current for various combinations of thin films.

A spin current is produced by differences in temperature between two ends of an electronic component. These components are extremely small and only one millionth of a millimetre thick. Because they are composed of magnetic materials such as iron, cobalt, or nickel, they are called magnetic nanostructures.

The physicists take two such nanofilms and place a layer of metal oxide between them that is only a few atoms thick. They heat up one of the external films – for example, with a hot nanowire or a focused laser. Electrons with a specific spin orientation then pass through the metal oxide. This produces the spin current. A spin can be conceived as electrons spinning on their own axes – either clockwise or anti-clockwise.

Their findings have been  published  in the research journal ‘Nature Communications’.


Nanotechnology Market to Reach 30 Billion Dollars by 2015

Global Industry Analysts  announces the release of a comprehensive global outlook on the Nanotechnology Industry. Nanotechnology products present potential for cheaper, faster, and more environmental friendly applications. Backed by huge number of Government sponsored projects, demand for nanotechnology enabled products is strong.

Nanotechnology is a well funded industry, mainly  Government funding and corporate research and development spending.. Funds from venture capitalists is however low. The US government leads other governments in terms of nanotechnology spending, followed by the Japanese and German governments.  One of the prominent factors hampering rapid commercialization of nanotechnology is the time delay in establishing labs for the necessary R&D. Besides, after obtaining funds, a minimum of another year-and-a-half is consumed in establishing a full-fledged nanotech research laboratory.

Chemical industry currently dominates the Nanotech arena in terms of maturity of R&D efforts and actual product commercialization. Among the product segments, Nanomaterials are emerging as the most lucrative segment. Nanofilms are making rapid strides in the global market driven by their expanding application in  high efficiency solar cells, light-emitting diodes, photonics, wireless communications, and semiconductor technology. While the US and Europe continue to remain the major geographic markets for nanotechnology industry until 2015,  the share of Asia Pacific in the nanotechnology market is expected to grow substantially.
The research report titled "Nanotechnology: A Global Outlook" is  announced by Global Industry Analysts, Inc.