Author: David Chandler, MIT News Office
MIT team applies technology developed for visual ‘cloaking’ to enable more efficient transfer of electrons.
A new approach that allows objects to become “invisible” has now been applied to an entirely different area: letting particles “hide” from passing electrons, which could lead to more efficient thermoelectric devices and new kinds of electronics.
The concept — developed by MIT graduate student Bolin Liao, former postdoc Mona Zebarjadi (now an assistant professor at Rutgers University), research scientist Keivan Esfarjani, and mechanical engineering professor Gang Chen — is described in a paper in the journal Physical Review Letters.
Normally, electrons travel through a material in a way that is similar to the motion of electromagnetic waves, including light; their behavior can be described by wave equations. That led the MIT researchers to the idea of harnessing the cloaking mechanisms developed to shield objects from view — but applying it to the movement of electrons, which is key to electronic and thermoelectric devices.