The use of solid-state refrigerators to cool appliances and electronic devices is a possible technological application for a theoretical study conducted at the University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in São Paulo State, Brazil.
Although this application is not considered in the study, which was based on computer simulations, such applications are on the horizon and could be an efficient and environmentally friendly alternative to vapor-compression refrigerators, which currently dominate the market and contribute to ozone depletion and global warming.
The study, led by Alexandre Fonseca with participation by his former student Tiago Cantuário, was part of the project "Carbon nanostructures: modeling and simulations," supported by São Paulo Research Foundation—FAPESP. The results are published in an article in the journal Annalen der Physik.
"Solid-state cooling is a young field of research with promising results. The method we investigated is based on the so-called elastocaloric effect (ECE), which makes use of temperature variations in a system in response to mechanical stress. We performed computer simulations of this effect in carbon nanotubes," Fonseca said.