Alejandro Rodriguez, a researcher at Princeton, and colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have come up with a formula that describes the maximum heat transfer between near-field objects in a recent study.
Phys.org claimed that “with this new formula, engineers will know how much more performance can be squeezed out of their structural and material designs.”
Apparently a type of electromagnetic wave called evanescent waves transfer the heat between very close objects. Phys.org explained, “These evanescent waves can be thought of as energy of light that gets trapped inside an object, never managing to break through its surface and propagate as typical radiation. The only time evanescent waves can “tunnel” from inside an object to its exterior is in the presence of a very near object with its own evanescent waves. The waves transfer the otherwise trapped energy.”
“To fully account for evanescent waves’ effects, Rodriguez and colleagues incorporated several key concepts: the flow of electrical current within objects, the conservation of energy, and “reciprocity,” the ability of either object to act as a heat receiver or absorber,” reported Phys.org.
“The new formula applies to objects with any arbitrary shape. By tweaking the material composition and shapes of objects, researchers can thus work out how to maximize near field heat transfer,” according to Phys.org, “The Princeton scientists are using computers to rapidly create and vet potential surface designs, which can now be truly optimized courtesy of the new heat exchange equation.”
Phys.org adds, “Potential uses [for engineers] could include trapping heat and converting it directly into electricity (in devices called thermophotovoltaics), as well as cooling off electronics components such as processors.”
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