A new material that emits short-wavelength thermal radiation when heated could be used in systems that convert waste heat into electrical energy thus boost waste heat harvesting. Created by an international team co-led by researchers at Purdue University, the University of Alberta and Hamburg University of Technology, the material comprises alternating layers of 20 nm of tungsten oxide and 100 nm of hafnium oxide.
Tungsten oxide is a chemical compound containing oxygen and the transition metal tungsten. It is obtained as an intermediate in the recovery of tungsten from its minerals. Tungsten ores are treated with alkalis to produce WO3. It is insoluble in H2O and acids, but soluble in hot alkalis. It is n type semiconductor material, the special physical and chemical property make it used in various filed and become the important functional material in modern scientific research.
The structure was chosen so that the emission of long-wavelength infrared photons from the material is suppressed while the emission of shorter wavelength photons is enhanced. These shorter wavelength photons have enough energy to drive a photovoltaic cell, while the longer wavelength photons do not. The research team tested the material by heating it to 1000˚C and using it to power a photovoltaic cell. They found that the new material produced 90% more electrical energy than a conventional black-body infrared emitter. It could someday be used to generate electricity from the waste heat produced by industrial processes and even automobile engines.
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