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Indian scientists develop new material to help conserve energy efficiently

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New Delhi, March 5 (IANS) A new material that can efficiently convert waste heat to electricity has been developed, a team of Indian scientists said on Tuesday.

The team at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Bengaluru (an autonomous institution under the Department of Science & Technology), in a new paper, showcased the new Thermoelectric (TE) material which shows the properties of both glass and metal.

It exhibits metal-like electrical conductivity while producing glass-like thermal conductivity, and has the potential to significantly improve energy efficiency and sustainability. It may help convert waste heat from various sources, such as industrial processes in power plants, households, and vehicle exhausts, into electricity.

In the research paper, published in the journal Advanced Materials, Professor Kanishka Biswas from the New Chemistry Unit at JNCASR focused on synthesising a crystalline material named ytterbium (Yb) doped AgSbTe2.

This demonstrates unique characteristics in heat and electron transport. In terms of heat transport, the material acts like glass and effectively blocks heat waves. But when it comes to the conduction of electrons or charge carriers, it also behaves like a metal.

"While metals such as copper are excellent conductors of both electricity and heat, the newly-synthesised material defies this norm by exhibiting metal-like conductivity for electricity but glass-like behaviour for heat, which is a rare and fascinating result," Prof. Biswas said.

This dual functionality opens possibilities for energy efficiency, particularly in the field of thermoelectric energy conversion, the team said.

--IANS

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