Researchers have developed a source of unlimited energy from graphene
A team of researchers from the University of Arkansas has successfully developed a circuit that can convert room temperature heat into electrical energy. Physicists say graphene-based energy harvesting circuitry could be built into the chip to provide clean, limitless low-voltage current for small devices and sensors.
This breakthrough is an offshoot of a three-year study back at the University of Arkansas, which discovered graphene, which is a single layer of carbon atoms that is arranged in such a way that it retains the potential to collect energy. The idea has been controversial because it refutes physicist Richard Feynman’s theory of the thermal motion of atoms, known as Brownian motion.
However, university researchers have found that the thermal motion of graphene at room temperature actually induces an alternating current in the circuit. Previously, this achievement was considered impossible. The researchers also found that their design could increase the current output.
The scientists involved in the project were able to use a relatively new field of physics to prove that diodes increase the power of a circuit. This emerging area is called stochastic thermodynamics. The researchers say graphene and circuitry have a symbiotic relationship. While the thermal environment does work with the pull-up resistor, the graphene and the circuit are at the same temperature and no heat flows between them. This is an important discovery because the difference in temperature between them would contradict the second law of thermodynamics.
Among other discoveries was that the relatively slow motion of graphene induces a current in the circuit at low frequencies, which is important from a technological point of view. This is important because electronics are more efficient at low frequencies. The next goal is to determine if a constant current can be stored in the capacitor for later use. It is also planned to miniaturize the technology for use in devices of limited size.