Users and staff at the Molecular Foundry discovered that electrons in vanadium dioxide can conduct electricity without conducting heat.
Significance and Impact
The findings could lead to a wide range of applications, such as thermoelectric systems that convert waste heat from engines and appliances into electricity.
- For most metals, good conductors of electricity are also good conductors of heat, but not in vanadium dioxide (VO2).
- Computer simulations and X-ray scattering experiments of VO2determined the proportion of thermal conductivity attributable to the vibration of the material’s crystal lattice, called phonons, and to the movement of electrons.
- VO2’s thermal conductivity attributed to the electrons is ten times smaller than what would be expected.