COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Countries across the world continue to search for new ways
to create energy. As our current means for energy continue to deplete, thus
making them more expensive to generate, governments are searching for new energy
resources. Researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia have developed
a more efficient source of energy involving nano-scale particles that take only
microseconds to create and can be developed on a surface as small as a microchip.
"This technology is considerably less expensive than existing chemical and physical
processes," said Shubhra Gangopadhyay, professor of electrical engineering at
MU. "It creates high amounts of mechanical and thermal energy and can convert
that energy into electrical energy. So, the possibilities are endless in terms
of what this energy can do."
The energy is developed using solid state energetic material consisting of fuel
and oxidizer. The nano-engineered energetic material generates a tremendous amount
of thermal and mechanical energy when ignited. Electric power is generated using
the thermoelectric effect. The microfabricated devices coated with the energetic
material are capable of producing tens of joules, which are units of energy,
in the fraction of a second, which can be used for pulsed power applications
or can be stored in charge storage devices for later use in portable electronics.
Power also is generated by converting mechanical energy produced by shock waves
into electrical energy utilizing piezoelectric materials, which are materials
where the positive and negative electrical charges are separated, but symmetrically
distributed, so that the material overall is electrically neutral. MU researchers
currently are working on the process to couple the thermoelectric and piezoelectric
effect to produce energy on a single chip.
Gangopadhyay says there currently are no obstacles to overcome with the research.
She points out that the process can be done on glass without affecting its surface
and does not necessarily need electricity to start it. All that is needed is
friction or impact.
The researchers currently are seeking a patent for this technology.
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