Removing Energy Loss in the Power Grid with New MaterialCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: August 23, 2012 09:17AM
Minimizing energy loss is an important goal for many fields, especially electronics. To just transmit power along a power grid can result in a 10% energy loss, or more, so researchers are working to find ways to fix this. A common focus is on superconductors, which carry electrical currents without resistance, but researchers at RIKEN and the University of Tokyo have demonstrated a magnetic topological insulator that can also reduce energy loss to zero.
The quantum Hall effect has been used to create lossless electric channels before, but typically requires extremely powerful magnetic fields to do so. What the researchers have done is use the quantum anomalous Hall effect in a magnetic topological insulator to do the same thing, but without an external magnetic field. This effect arises in those materials because of the interaction between magnetic ions and the particles that actually carry the current through the material, Dirac fermions, which acts as though they have no mass.
This research was just a proof of concept for using the magnetic topological insulators like this and required the material by at extremely cold temperatures. However, by redesigning the material to make its magnetic properties more stable, it should be possible to reach higher temperatures that do not require cryogenic cooling.