On a recent sabbatical, Associate Professor Dr. Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh, from the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at RMIT University in Melbourne, travelled to Cambridge in order to work with MIT Associate Professor Michael Strano’s nanotechnology research team.
Whilst measuring the acceleration of a chemical reaction along a carbon nanotube, they made a remarkable discovery. The reaction they were monitoring actually generated power.
Dr. Kalantar-zadeh, "By coating a nanotube in nitrocellulose fuel and igniting one end, we set off a combustion wave along it and learned that a nanotube is an excellent conductor of heat from burning fuel. Even better, the combustion wave creates a strong electric current."
The initial results of their study have been published in the December issue of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Spectrum Magazine, in an article entitled “Nanodynamite: Fuel-coated nanotubes could provide bursts of power to the smallest systems”.
Dr. Kalantar-zadeh and Michael Strano will now work closely together, combining their expertise in chemistry and nanotechnology in order to explore this new phenomenon.
"It’s the first viable nanoscale approach to power generation that exploits the thermoelectric effect by overcoming the feasibility issues associated with minimising dimensions."
Whilst this new form of power generation could be incredibly useful and revolutionise the field of nanotechnology and electrical systems, there is still much research needed, and "multiple angles to explore when it comes to taming these exotic waves and, ultimately, finding out if they’re the wave of the future."
By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com