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'Invisibility' Could Be a Key to Better Electronics

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Probability flux of electrons

Diagram shows the "probability flux" of electrons, a representation of the paths of electrons as they pass through an 'invisible' nanoparticle. While the paths are bent as they enter the particle, they are subsequently bent back so that they re-emerge fro

Credit: Bolin Liao et al.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers have applied the concept of harnessing cloaking mechanisms developed to conceal objects from view to the movement of electrons, which could lead to more efficient thermoelectric devices and new kinds of electronics.

Composite materials used for cloaking induce the bending of light beams around an object and their meeting on the other side, rendering the object invisible. The researchers modeled nanoparticles with a center composed of one material and a shell made of another, but in this instance the electrons actually pass through the particles. The paths are bent as they enter the particle, and are subsequently bent back so that they reemerge on the same trajectory, as if the particle was not there.

The concept appears to work under simulation, and the team's next step is to build actual hardware to see if it performs as predicted. The initial goal of the research was the optimization of materials used in thermoelectric devices. The idea also could lead to a new type of switch for electronic devices that operates by toggling between transparent and opaque to electrons, says MIT professor Gang Chen.

From MIT News
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Abstracts Copyright © 2012 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA 


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