Researchers at the Carnegie Institution have discovered a new efficient way to pump heat using crystals. The crystals can pump or extract heat, even on the nanoscale, so they could be used on computer chips to prevent overheating or even meltdown, which is currently a major limit to higher computer speeds.

They performed simulations on ferroelectric crystals—materials that have electrical polarization in the absence of an electric field. The electrical polarization can be reversed by applying an external electrical field. The scientists found that the introduction of an electric field causes a giant temperature change in the material, dubbed the electrocaloric effect, far above a temperature to a so-called paraelectric state.
“The electrocaloric effect pumps heat through changing temperature by way of an applied electric field,” explained the researcher. “The effect has been known since the 1930s, but has not been exploited because people were using materials with high transition temperatures. We found that the effect is larger if the ambient temperature is well above the transition temperature, so low transition temperature materials are preferred.”
Ferroelectrics become paraelectric—that is, have no polarization under zero electric field above their transition temperature, which is the temperature at which a material changes its state from ferroelectric to paraelectric.

This story is reprinted from material from
Carnegie Institute for Science, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier. Link to original source.