New research has come out of NIA Member The University of Birmingham, alongside other UK institutions, where a new type of nanowire provides a high conversion of heat energy to electricity. The nanowires in question are composed of a picometer sized wire of tin and telluride atoms within the central region of a single-walled carbon nanotube (SWCNT).

These nanowires are a new type of thermoelectric material, where the thin nature of the nanowires provide a much greater heat to electricity conversion efficiency than bulk thermoelectric materials. The research team used a combination of theoretical and experimental approaches to find the best route of exploiting the capillarity of the SWCNTs. Through this route, the researchers were able to deduce a direct dependence between the template size and the diameter of the fabricated nanowire and were able to produce nanowires as small as 1-2 atoms in diameter.

The dependence technique can also be used to regulate the thermoelectric efficiency of the resulting nanowires. Because these nanowires conduct less heat and produce more electricity than 3D materials, it is thought that they could find use as thermoelectric generators for the generation of sustainable energy, alongside opening the door to a new range of “picowires”.

Sources: The University of Birmingham, ACS Nano