Researchers at Ohio State University studying a new magnetic effect that converts heat to electricity have discovered how to amplify it a thousand times over – a first step in making the technology more practical. The research team’s ultimate goal is a low-cost and efficient solid-state engine that coverts heat to electricity. This research could enable electronic devices to recycle some of their own waste heat into electricity. In a computer for example, it could enable heat-powered computation or provide cooling.
In the so-called spin Seebeck effect, the spin of electrons creates a current in magnetic materials, which is detected as a voltage in an adjacent metal. The Ohio State University researchers created a similar effect in a non-magnetic semiconductor made of indium antimonide, and produced more electrical power with it. They’ve named the amplified effect the “giant spin-Seebeck” effect.