New “Camera” with Shutter Speed of 1 Trillionth of a Second Sees through Dynamic Disorder of Atoms

Researchers have developed a new “camera” that sees the local disorder in materials. Its key feature is a variable shutter speed: because the disordered atomic clusters are moving, when the team used a slow shutter, the dynamic disorder blurred out, but when they used a fast shutter, they could see it. The method uses neutrons to measure atomic positions with a shutter speed of around one picosecond, a trillion times faster than normal camera shutters.

Uncovering the Atomic Mechanism Underpinning Heat Transport in Thermoelectric Materials

To better understand how thermoelectric devices convert thermal energy into electricity at the atomic scale, researchers used neutrons to study single crystals of tin sulfide and tin selenide. The results revealed a strong correlation between changes in the structure at certain temperatures and the frequency of atomic vibrations (phonons). This allowed the researchers to identify temperatures ideal for energy conversion and provided basic scientific knowledge for designing new thermoelectric materials.

Hidden Distortions Trigger Promising Thermoelectric Property

In a paper just published in the journal Advanced Materials, a team of scientists from Northwestern University and Brookhaven National Laboratory describe the previously hidden sub-nanoscale origins of exceptional thermoelectric properties in silver gallium telluride. The discovery reveals a quantum mechanical twist on what drives the emergence of these properties—and opens up a completely new direction for searching for new high-performance thermoelectrics.

Buzz about thermoelectrics heats up with promising new magnesium-based materials

Researchers at Duke University and Michigan State University used neutrons at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to gain new fundamental insights into two magnesium-based materials. Investigations at the atomic scale revealed the origin and mechanism behind the materials’ ability to convert thermal energy at room temperature into electricity and provides possible new pathways for improving thermoelectric applications such as those in the Perseverance rover and myriad other devices and energy-generation technologies.

2D Electronics Get an Atomic Tuneup

Scientists at Berkeley Lab have demonstrated a new technique that could improve the performance of atomically thin semiconductors for next-generation electronics such as optoelectronics, thermoelectrics, and sensors.