The Office of Naval Research and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency are funding development of a new thermoelectric material at Research Triangle Institute (RTI) that responds 23,000 times faster than existing thermoelectric materials. "The secret is our use of alternating layers of bismuth and telluride antimony," says Rama Venkatasubramanian, the researcher who developed the material. "We made a super lattice where electrons flow freely, but thermal processes are inhibited." A thermoelectric module with just one square centimeter of the new material provides 700 watts of cooling under a temperature gradient of 58F, according to Venkatasubramanian. "This will almost certainly improve the performance and capability of many cooling and power-generation systems for Department of Defense applications," says Valerie Browning, program manager at DARPA's Defense Sciences Office. Anticipated applications for the thermoelectric material include fiber-optic switches, microprocessors, power electronics, laser devices, infrared imaging, and microelectrothermal systems. RTI is a non-profit research organization. Small "laboratory quantities" are available now. For more information, e-mail Venkatasubramanian at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.rti.org/units/es/csr/rama.cfm.
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