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John O | July 2018

High-powered thermoelectric generator could advance IoT, wearables technology

By Josh Perry, Editor


Researchers from Waseda University, Osaka University, and Shizuoka University in Japan have announced the development of a novel silicon nanowire thermoelectric generator with a power density of 12 microwatts per square centimeter with a thermal difference of only five degrees.


Conventional thermoelectric generator (left) and newly-developed thermoelectric generator (right). (Waseda University)


According to an article from Waseda, the researchers were able to construct the generator with silicon nanowires of 0.25 nanometers, rather than the standard 10-100 nanometers, which improved the thermoelectric performance. Despite being smaller, the generator produces the same power density as conventional devices.


“More surprisingly, thermal resistance was suppressed, and the power density multiplied by 10 times by thinning the generator’s silicon substrate from the conventional 750 nanometers to 50 nanometers with backside grinding,” the article explained.


The scientists will work on improving the power generation in multiple conditions, but there is a belief that this could enhance the thermal management and power technology of IoT systems.


The research paper, entitled “10μW/cm2-Class High Power Density Silicon Thermoelectric Energy Harvester Compatible with CMOS-VLSI Technology,” was recently presented at the 2018 Symposia on VLSI Technology and Circuits in June in Hawaii.

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