‘Invisibility’ could be a key to better electronics

October 15, 2012 11:46 AM EST By: Jennifer Rocha

MIT team applies technology developed for visual ‘cloaking’ to enable more efficient transfer of electrons.

Story content courtesy of MIT News Office, US

A new approach that allows objects to become “invisible” has now been applied to an entirely different area: letting particles “hide” from passing electrons, which could lead to more efficient thermoelectric devices and new kinds of electronics.

The concept — developed by MIT graduate student Bolin Liao, former postdoc Mona Zebarjadi (now an assistant professor at Rutgers University), research scientist Keivan Esfarjani, and mechanical engineering professor Gang Chen — is described in a paper recently published.

The MIT researchers modeled nanoparticles with a core of one material and a shell of another.  But in this case, rather than bending around the object, the electrons do actually pass through the particles: Their paths are bent first one way, then back again, so they return to the same trajectory they began with.

In computer simulations, the concept appears to work, Liao says. Now, the team will try to build actual devices to see whether they perform as expected.

This research was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) through MIT’s Solid-State Solar-Thermal Energy Conversion center, a DOE Energy Frontier Research Center.


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