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Solid State Thermotunneling Systems for Power Generation

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We present a study of thermotunneling devices as a source of solid-state energy production. Solid-state devices such as thermoelectrics have been investigated for their cooling and energy production capabilities over the last six decades. Thermotunneling (TT) devices, on the other hand, have only been investigated during the last two decades. Additionally there has been no practical or manufacturable demonstration of these devices. In this study we present the basic theory of thermotunneling, the design and fabrication of devices, and the experimental results. Prototype devices with tunneling gaps in the sub 10 nm range were constructed using MEMS processing techniques. Power generation and efficiency measurements are presented. The measured results are compared with current state of the art thermoelectric devices. Finally we discuss the material and design difficulties that are likely to limit performance in these devices.
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Document Type: Short Communication

Publication date: June 1, 2010

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  • Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Letters (NNL) is a multidisciplinary peer-reviewed journal consolidating nanoscale research activities in all disciplines of science, engineering and medicine into a single and unique reference source. NNL provides the means for scientists, engineers, medical experts and technocrats to publish original short research articles as communications/letters of important new scientific and technological findings, encompassing the fundamental and applied research in all disciplines of the physical sciences, engineering and medicine.
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