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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?

However, the concept is simpler that the apparatus needed to demonstrate itand that is where the microwaves come in. The earlier experiments with the inverse spin Hall effect used a constant bath of microwaveslike those inside a microwave oven. Unfortunately, that fried the rest of the apparatus making their experiments short-termed and ultimately of very limited success. Their failures may also doom the harnessing of stray microwaves in the environment, even though Boheme and his collaborator, fellow professor Valy Varden, think the idea has merit.

"That is an excellent idea and whether this will or will not become an application of the inverse spin Hall effect has yet to be shown," Boheme responded to my suggestion of harnessing stray microwaves to produce electricity.

He may have just been being polite, however, because his experiments used pulsed microwaves to eliminate the overheating problem. Also his suggested applications sounded much more feasible than mine.

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Figure 2: The device built on a small glass slide (top) exhibits a spin current to be converted to an electrical current using the inverse spin Hall effect. The key is a sandwich-like device (bottom) where an external magnetic field and pulses of microwaves create spin waves in the iron magnet which converted to an electrical current in the copper electrodes they hit the organic semiconductor (polymer). (Source: University of Utah, Kipp van Schooten and Dali Sun)

"We know from other spintronics applications, such as hard-disc read heads, that spintronics may fill technological gaps for magnetic-field to electrical-current conversation where simple induction failsmeaning where induction becomes too insensitive and too inefficient (in hard discs this was the case when the read heads became too small)," Boheme told EE Times. "It is conceivable to make inverse spin Hall effect devices out of organic semiconductor layers as monolithic, nanometre sized thin-film devices on flexible substrates (essentially foils) at very low cost, so the range of applications can not be foreseen at this point. If efficiencies permit (which we don't know at this point!), then it is also conceivable that this could be used to take microwave radiation out of our environment and use the energy therein for other applications."

The long and short of the inverse spin Hall effect is that it works (see the diagram or read the paper for and explanation of how), that it is a new use of spintronics that in some ways complements the already growing tool-box of spintronic effects and devices that can harness them. Next, their efficiency needs to be accurately measured and some appropriate trial applications need to be tried, in order to gauge just how useful the inverse spin Hall effect will be for organic semiconductors in the future.


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