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Nano-scale vacuum spaced thermo-tunnel devices for energy harvesting applications

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 December 2012

Amit K. Tiwari
Affiliation:
Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Newcastle University, NE1 7RU, UK
Jonathan P. Goss
Affiliation:
Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Newcastle University, NE1 7RU, UK
Nick G. Wright
Affiliation:
Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Newcastle University, NE1 7RU, UK
Alton B. Horsfall
Affiliation:
Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Newcastle University, NE1 7RU, UK
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Abstract

The output power-density and the efficiency of thermo-tunnel devices are examinedas a function of inter-electrode separation, electrode work-function, and temperature. We find that these physical parameters dramatically influence the device characteristics, and under optimal conditions a thermo-tunnel device is capable of delivering a very high output power-density of ∼ 103Wcm−2. In addition, at higher temperatures, the heat-conversion efficiency of the thermo-tunnel device approaches ∼ 10%, comparable to that of a thermoelectric generator. We therefore propose that thermo-tunnel devices are promising for solid-state thermal energy conversion.

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Copyright
Copyright © Materials Research Society 2012 

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