A team of University of Arkansas physicists has successfully developed a graphene circuit that could produce clean limitless energy. The new system works by capturing graphene's thermal motion and transforming it into an electrical current.
“An energy-harvesting circuit based on graphene could be incorporated into a chip to provide clean, limitless, low-voltage power for small devices or sensors,” said Paul Thibado, professor of physics and lead researcher in the discovery.
Although, the research does not come without its fair share of controversy. This is because it goes directly against the work of famed physicist Richard Feynman who presumed that the thermal motion of atoms, known as Brownian motion, cannot be worked with.
However, Thibado’s team found something that was previously thought to be impossible: at room temperature, the thermal motion of graphene does induce an alternating current (AC). They did this by building a circuit with two diodes, instead of just one, for converting AC into a direct current (DC).
The diodes were placed in opposition so that the current could flow both ways. This resulted in a DC current that performs work on a load resistor and increases the amount of power delivered.
“We also found that the on-off, switch-like behavior of the diodes actually amplifies the power delivered, rather than reducing it, as previously thought,” said Thibado. “The rate of change in resistance provided by the diodes adds an extra factor to the power.”
To prove their theory, the team had to use a new field of physics. “In proving this power enhancement, we drew from the emergent field of stochastic thermodynamics and extended the nearly century-old, celebrated theory of Nyquist,” said coauthor Pradeep Kumar, associate professor of physics.
The team is now seeking to determine if the DC current can be stored in a capacitor for later use. The research is published in the journal Physical Review E.