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Quantum tunneling in solids

  1. Apr 13, 2012 #1
    Imagine we have material with very low heat conductivity in which metal nanoparticles are embedded and distance between each those nanoparticles is 1 nm.When we heat one side of such material,will electrons tunnel to the colder side?Is it possible some usefull energy generate in this way?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 13, 2012 #2


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    Electrons may or may not tunnel between the islands, there is no way of knowing without analysing the experiment in some detail (although this is such a common scenario that I am sure you can find papers where this has already been done).

    However, heating and other thermal effects will under normal circumstances not really affect the tunnelling rate, the latter is usually temperature independent (unless the shape of the potential itself depends on temperature for some reason, not something I've ever come across), meaning heating should not really affect anything related to QM tunnelling.

    That said, the heating would possibly affect the usual "over the barrier" rate, but this is just a classical effect.
  4. Apr 13, 2012 #3
    In this articles they use quantum tunneling diodes which they believe could covert heat into
    http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2009/thermoelectric.html; http://www.shelleys.demon.co.uk/fjan07h.htm; http://www.shelleys.demon.co.uk/fjan07h.htm
    I think that if this principally works they may not need to use semiconductors with p-n junctions.Probably it`s much easier to make metal nanoballs inside of dielectric.Heat all the same will push electrons to the colder side.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2012
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