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New hydrogel to cool down electronics and converting their heat into electricity

A new way to cool down electronic devices, recover waste heat.

Using electronics continually for longer can cause them to overheat, resulting in components damage, slow functioning, or even make them explode or catch fire.

The heat produced by electronics does more than annoying users. Heat-induced voids and cracking can cause chips and circuits to fail.

Now, scientists have developed a way to not only manage heat but also route it away from delicate devices.

Scientists have developed a hydrogel that can both cool down electronics, such as cell phone batteries, and convert their waste heat into electricity.

The hydrogel consists of a polyacrylamide framework infused with water and specific ions.

During testing, scientists heated the hydrogel. Two of the ions (ferricyanide and ferrocyanide) transferred electrons between electrodes, generating electricity.

Meanwhile, water inside the hydrogel evaporated, cooling it. After use, the hydrogel regenerated itself by absorbing water from the surrounding air.

To demonstrate the new material, the scientists attached it to a cell phone battery during fast discharging. Some of the waste heat was converted into five μW of electricity, and the temperature of the battery decreased by 68 F. The reduced working temperature ensures safe operation of the battery, and the electricity harvested is sufficient for monitoring the battery or controlling the cooling system.

Journal Reference:
  1. The paper’s abstract will be available on April 22 at 8 a.m. Eastern time here: DOI:10.1021/acs.nanolett.0c00800

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