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Can Heusler alloy be the answer to the small electronics power problem?

In today’s electronic age, the use of tiny components like sensors is widespread in the gadgets that comprise processors and circuit boards. In this contemporary era, devices automatically coordinate with each other and this is what the future demands, especially for production plants where one machine needs to react to others dynamically. Therefore, sensors have their own importance, and it is not feasible to link these elements with cables for power requirements.

In contrast, these components have to generate their own power, which can be done with the assistance of a thermoelectric material that can convert heat to the electronic form of energy. This is made possible by the Seebeck effect in which the temperature difference between two dissimilar metals can generate electrical power.

To reach the above objective of the constant generation of electrical power for electronic applications, thermal equilibrium should be achieved at a very slow rate by introducing irregularities in the crystal structure of the material. This inhibits heat transportation from higher to lower temperatures, i.e., decreases the thermal conductivity of the material. As far as the composition of the alloy is concerned, the thermoelectric material has Iron (Fe), Vanadium (V), Tungsten (W) and Aluminium (Al).

A new patent AT520361A2 titled “Heusler alloy” filed by Avl List Gmbh has been published, which discloses an alloy along with the process of producing a device named thermoelectric generator by utilizing this alloy. The disclosed apparatus has cold and warm sides where the warm side is attached to the external device’s warm side in order to acquire the required temperature difference and generate electric power.

The amount of electric current produced at a given difference in temperature is measured in terms of ZT value. Thermoelectric properties of any material depend upon this value, such that a material having a higher ZT value has better thermoelectric properties. The above-discussed alloy has a ZT value of 5 to 6, which was at only 2.5 to 2.8, as recorded in the thermoelectric materials developed previously. In short, the material is an incredible achievement in the field of electronics that can be used in numerous applications by enabling the electronic components like processors, sensors etc. to efficiently generate power for themselves wirelessly.

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