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Inverse spin Hall effect converts microwaves into energy

Posted: 21 Apr 2016 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:alternative energy? power conversion? microwave energy?

Scientists at the University of Utah have just discovered a way of converting energy into electricity in organic semiconductors. What with microwaves being generated by cell phone towers, mobile devices, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 5G and so on, it is only practical that scientists investigated how to harness these microwaves to generate energy.

In the lab, they have demonstrated a novel effect!called the inverse spin Hall effect!which can convert magnetic spin current into electrical current using microwaves as their source of magnetic spin. It sounds like taking the long way around, since cell-phone antennas already convert microwaves into electricity, however the point of their demonstration is not to preview an application, but to prove that the inverse spin Hall effect can indeed be harnesses and controlled as a tool for the 21st century. They predict applications in batteries, solar cells, mobile devices.

"The energy that we take out of the device is energy that is put into the device through microwave radiation!in that sense, the power conversion does exactly what an antenna does as well, namely convert electromagnetic radiation into an electrical current," University of Utah professor Christoph Boheme told EE Times in an exclusive interview. "The difference is that the physical mechanism by which our device does this is fundamentally different. It is not induction that accomplishes the conversion, it is the inverse spin Hall effect. As a matter of fact, corroborating the fact that we do not see spurious effects such as electrical induction (such as a simple antenna effect) or other known phenomena was the goal of this study."

 University of Utah physicists

Figure 1: University of Utah physicists Valy Vardeny and Christoph Boehme demonstrate a range of organic semiconductors that can convert a magnetic spin into electric current for future uses in solar cells, batteries and mobile electronic devices. (Source: University of Utah, Lee Siegel)

The inverse Hall effect was first demonstrated in 1984 by Soviet scientists and was studied more recently (2006) in semiconductors and (2013) in ferromagnetic metals. The concept is relatively simple: just as magnetic spins are induced in the atoms surrounding a wire conducting electricity!the direction of the spin being dependent on the direction of the current!likewise a current will flow in a wire if magnetic spin is induced in the atoms surrounding the wire.


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