Cool stuff: the diagram shows how the temperature of the caloric material was measured. The plot in the center shows the temperature change in the sample when exposed to a magnetic field. The plot on the right shows the change in temperature when the sample is strained. (Courtesy: Peng Wu et al/Acta Materialia 237 118154)
Topics: Global Warming, Green Tech, Materials Science, Solid-State Physics, Thermodynamics
Researchers in China have shown that applying strain to a composite material using an electric field induces a large and reversible caloric effect. This novel way of enhancing the caloric effect without a magnetic field could open new avenues of solid-state cooling and lead to more energy-efficient and lighter refrigerators.
The International Institute of Refrigeration estimates that 20% of all electricity used globally is expended on vapor-compression refrigeration – which is the technology used in conventional refrigerators and air conditioners. What is more, the refrigerants used in these systems are powerful greenhouse gases that contribute significantly to global warming. As a result, scientists are trying to develop more environmentally friendly refrigeration systems.
Cooling systems can also be made from completely solid-state systems, but these cannot currently compete with vapor compression for most mainstream applications. Today, most commercial solid-state cooling systems use the Peltier effect, which is a thermoelectric process that suffers from high cost and low efficiency.
Solid-state cooling is achieved via electric field-induced strain, Hardepinder Singh, Physics World