Monday, April 3, 2017

Science & Technology: Thermal Diode Operates at More than 326°C - Possible Use in Geothermal Energy Exploration

Building block of thermal computer operates at 600 K (Phys.Org)

Illustration and scanning electron micrographs of the NanoThermoMechanical rectifier. Credit: Elzouka and Ndao. Published in Nature Scientific Reports.

Researchers have built the hottest thermal diode to date, which operates at temperatures of more than 600 K (326°C). Thermal diodes may serve as the building blocks of future thermal computers, which could run at temperatures at which today's electronic computers would quickly overheat and stop working.

The researchers, Assistant Professor Sidy Ndao and graduate student Mahmoud Elzouka at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Department of Mechanical & Materials Engineering, have published a paper on the NanoThermoMechanical diode in a recent issue of Nature's Scientific Reports.

Unlike electronics, NanoThermoMechanical memory and logic devices use heat instead of electricity to record and process data; hence they can operate in harsh environments where electronics typically fail. A few examples include the exploration of planet Venus with average temperature over 400°C, and deep-Earth drilling for petroleum and geothermal energies.

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