Generating Electrical Power from Waste Heat
- Magazine Article
Directly converting electrical power to heat is easy; however, converting heat into electrical power is not as easy. To address this issue, a tiny silicon-based device was developed that can harness what was previously called waste heat and turn it into DC power. The device could be used as a compact infrared power supply that could replace radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) that are used for such tasks as powering sensors for space missions that don’t get enough direct sunlight to power solar panels. The device is made of common and abundant materials such as aluminum, silicon, and silicon dioxide — or glass — combined in uncommon ways.