A study out of Purdue University has refined a technology that might be able to manage the flow of heat. Similar to devices that control the direction of electrical currents, these findings could potentially control heat flow in everything from electronics to textiles.
"For example, on a winter night you don't want a building to lose heat quickly to the outside, while during the day you want the building to be warmed up by the sun, so it would be good to have building materials that permit the flow of heat in one direction but not the other," explained Xiulin Ruan, an associate professor at Purdue.
“Asymmetric grapheme nanoribbons” were the missing link. Researchers believe these new findings will allow the use of thermal control in a variety of applications, including computers, electronics, buildings, and clothing.
Thermal rectification has been studied extensively before; however, this new study has made a breakthrough in discovering the use of minuscule triangular or T-shaped structures to permit more heat flow in one direction than the other.
Image: Courtesy of Purdue University