The human body sweats to cool down the body, so why not use the same principal with refrigerators? Thats the general idea behind a new nanotechnology refrigerator that researchers at Hasselt University in Belgium are developing. The revolutionary appliance would high energy photons, which could come directly from the sun.
With no moving parts and no electrical connection, a “nanofridge” would consist of two electrodes, with one being cooled by replacing hot electrons with cool ones through process of photon absorption. This means no need to convert solar energy to electricity, a process that results in energy loss, which is what current happens if you have a house that is solar powered with a conventional fridge that runs off electricity. Electrons would be able to move between the two electrodes in what are called quantum dots. According to the authors of the nano fridge research: ‘These dots have electronic and optical properties that can be controlled by adjusting the shape and size of the structures and have been studied intensively over the last two decades. In this work, the adjoining quantum dots each have a lower and higher energy level, such that each dot could hold an electron at any given time in one of the levels.’
The sun, with its high temperature photons, is thought to be a good source to make cold electrons move from the warm electrode to the cool one, as well as in the opposite direction. With all this movement and hopping around, one of the electrodes of the fridge would end up cooled – hence – a new kind of refrigerator using the latest in physics and energy conserving technology.
Source: Physics World
Photo: jcmurty / flickr
Reference: Cleuren, B., Rutten, B., & Van den Broeck, C. (2012). Cooling by Heating: Refrigeration Powered by Photons Physical Review Letters, 108 (12) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.108.120603