Vanderbilt University: Micro energy harvesters for the Internet of Things

(Nanowerk News) Thin organic layers provide machines and equipment with new functions. They enable, for example, tiny energy recuperators. In future, these will be installed on pipes or other surfaces in order to convert waste heat into electricity. The experts at the Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology IWS Dresden use ink based on conductive polymers for this purpose.

The IWS engineers have developed a new process for this project: Small molecules are synthesized into polymers which are able to transport negative charge carriers (electrons). The “trick” is that this polymer, unlike comparable polymers, is in a liquid state. This polymer enables the scientists to print or spray very thin and smooth organic functional coatings on surfaces.
Next, the engineers will initially concentrate on further increasing the electrical conductivity of their polymers. They also aim at producing the first prototypes of thermoelectric generators from their new materials. “And of course we will have to work on further increasing the efficiency of these generators,” says Dr. Roman Tkachov.

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