Thermopower Wave: Nanotube Electron Entrainment

  • Thread starter sanman
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  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

Apparently, carrying out an exothermic reaction along the length of a nanotube can result in a "thermopower wave" which results from "electron entrainment" (a wave propagating along the nanotube which pushes electrons along, resulting in a power spike)

http://www.physorg.com/news187186888.html


So what can this be used for? What is the efficiency of conversion of the chemical energy into electrical energy?

Is there some special conversion efficiency advantage being achieved here because of nanotubes being an alleged "quantum wire"?

Could you use this as a bulk electrochemical material to power an ion engine and obtain very high thrust without using a nuclear reactor?
 
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  • #2
745
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Here's a BBC news article with a video embedded:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8556656.stm

I wonder if there is some way to use nano-structured chemical fuel to optimize the mass ejection, so that as high a mass-fraction as possible would travel on an exactly anti-parallel trajectory, to maximize action-reaction.
 
  • #4
Gokul43201
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From previous link:
The rapid transit of the reaction down the nanotubes appeared to pull the electrons within it along. This appears to be something that wasn't predicted by theory, since the authors describe it by writing that they need to "introduce a new phenomenon that results from their effect on carrier propagation." (Of course, if it was completely unexpected, why measure current at all?) They refer to the combined reaction/heat/electrical pulse as a thermopower wave.
Haven't yet read the paper, but I find the bit about introducing a "new phenomenon" somewhat mystifying. After all, phonon drag (and specifically phonon drag thermopower) has been studied in 2DEGs for nearly a couple decades now.
 
  • #5
745
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I was just musing further on the "thermopower wave" effect.

We have all heard of nitrous oxide injectors being used to boost gasoline combustion engines - this was developed in WW2 for temporarily boosting the speed of aircraft.

Could the thermopower wave effect be used to create a power surge/spike that could strongly boost the speed or accelerative torque of an electric motor in similar fashion?
 

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