The content you've requested is available without charge only to active Sigma Xi members and American Scientist subscribers.
If you are an active member or an individual subscriber, please log in now in order to access this article.
If you are not a member or individual subscriber, you can:
Certain substances allow heat to be pumped from one place to another using electricity. Such thermoelectric materials also allow electricity to be generated from heat. Yet the promise of solid-state refrigerators and air conditioners has never been fulfilled, in large part because the efficiency of these materials is comparatively low. Thus thermoelectrics are restricted to specialized applications: thermocouples, radioisotope power generators and thermoelectric coolers for image sensors, for example. The fundamental problem is that a good thermoelectric must have high electrical conductivity and low thermal conductivity, but in most solids these two physical properties go hand in hand. A promising solution is to use semiconducting clathrates. These compounds have cage-like crystal structures in which the spaces are filled with atoms that can effectively rattle around. This motion interferes with the conduction of heat but not electricity, making them ideal candidates for the next generation of thermoelectrics.
Connect With Us:
An early peek at each new issue, with descriptions of feature articles, columns, and more. Every other issue contains links to everything in the latest issue's table of contents.News of book reviews published in American Scientist and around the web, as well as other noteworthy happenings in the world of science books.
To sign up for automatic emails of the American Scientist Update and Scientists' Nightstand issues, create an online profile, then sign up in the My AmSci area.
JSTOR, the online academic archive, contains complete back issues of American Scientist from 1913 (known then as the Sigma Xi Quarterly) through 2005.
The table of contents for each issue is freely available to all users; those with institutional access can read each complete issue.
View the full collection here.
Receive notification when new content is posted from the entire website, or choose from the customized feeds available.