Researchers build a quantum dot energy harvester

phys.org | 10/23/2013 | Staff
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Credit: Jaliel et al.

Over the past few years, thermoelectric generators have become the focus of a growing number of studies, due to their ability to convert waste heat into electrical energy. Quantum dots, semiconductor crystals with distinctive conductive properties, could be good candidates for thermoelectric generation, as their discrete resonant levels provide excellent energy filters.

Study - Researchers - University - Cambridge - Collaboration

In a recent study, researchers at the University of Cambridge, in collaboration with colleagues in Madrid, Rochester, Duisburg and Sheffield, have experimentally demonstrated the potential of an autonomous nanoscale energy harvester based on resonant tunneling quantum dots. This harvester is based on previous research carried out by part of their team, who had proposed a three-terminal energy harvester based on two resonant-tunneling quantum dots with different energy levels.

The energy harvester device was realized at Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge by a researcher called Gulzat Jaliel. The original theoretical proposal for the device, however, was introduced by Andrew Jordan in 2013, and the theoretical work behind the harvester was carried out by him in collaboration with renowned semiconductor physicist Markus Büttiker and a team of post-doctoral students in Geneva.

Paper - Colleagues - Rafa - Markus - Coulomb

"Since the paper by my colleagues Rafa and Markus on Coulomb blockaded dots, I started thinking about thermoelectrics in mesoscopic circuits," Jordan, one of the researchers who developed the theory behind the harvester, told Phys.org. "During my sabbatical in Geneva in 2010-2011, we were thinking and calculating about the chaotic cavity thermal engine with quantum point contacts and I ended up publishing another paper with Björn and Rafa."

The device previously proposed by Jordan and some of his colleagues, however, predicted a low power. In the summer of 2013, therefore, when he went back to Geneva for a brief visit, Jordan started exploring the relation between resonant tunneling and thermoelectricity further. His intuition was that a device that utilizes resonant quantum...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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