Gas flow makes electricity

October 6/13, 2004

Researchers from the Indian Institute of Science have found that electricity is produced when gas flows over semiconductor materials and carbon nanotubes at speeds as low as a few meters per second.

Semiconductors are materials that allow electric current to flow in variable amounts depending and conditions like the presence of an electrical field. Carbon nanotubes are rolled-up sheets of carbon atoms that can be narrower than one nanometer in diameter. Some types of carbon nanotubes are semiconducting.

The phenomenon could be used to make small, inexpensive gas flow sensors with no moving parts. The sensors would measure the velocity and direction of gas flow, which promises to be useful in turbulence and aerodynamics monitoring and research.

The researchers' device works for several reasons: gas flow on inclined solids results in a pressure difference along streamlines, an effect known as the Bernoulli principle; this pressure difference results in a temperature gradient along a material; the temperature difference leads to a voltage difference across the material, a principle known as the Seebeck effect.

The researchers produced a voltage difference of 650 microvolts and a power flow of 43 nanowatts when they released compressed air over a small piece of germanium. It's not clear whether the effect could be used to generate substantial amounts of electricity, but if it could be scaled up it could serve as an electricity generator with no moving parts, similar to thermoelectric and piezoelectric generators.

The method could be used to make accurate gas flow sensors in less than two years, according to the researchers. The work appeared in the August 20, 2004 issue of Physical Review Letters.

Page One

Atomic clock to sync handhelds

Quantum math models speech

Page layout drives Web search

Fluid chip does binary logic

Chip spots DNA electrochemically
Crystal structure tunes nanowires
Gas flow makes electricity
Sound makes electricity for space
Design rules build on self-assembly
Nanotube diode reverses itself

Research Watch blog

View from the High Ground Q&A
How It Works

RSS Feeds:
News  | Blog

Ad links:
Buy an ad link


Ad links: Clear History

Buy an ad link

Home     Archive     Resources    Feeds     Glossary
TRN Finder     Research Dir.    Events Dir.      Researchers     Bookshelf
   Contribute      Under Development     T-shirts etc.     Classifieds

© Copyright Technology Research News, LLC 2000-2010. All rights reserved.