Every so often my day job turns up stories full of sfnal awesomeness. Take, for example, this press release from the University of Arizona about generating electricity from waves — quantum waves.
Bergfield designed the benzene ring circuit in such a way that in one path the electron is forced to travel a longer distance around the ring than the other. This causes the two electron waves to be out of phase once they reunite upon reaching the far side of the benzene ring. When the waves meet, they cancel each other out in a process known as quantum interference. When a temperature difference is placed across the circuit, this interruption in the flow of electric charge leads to the buildup of an electric potential — voltage — between the two electrodes.
The great thing about this is not that scientists are doing engineering on the scale of a benzene ring, but that the technique, if the theoretical models work in practice, will generate significant amounts of electricity from waste heat. That will make an enormous difference to the efficiency of any sort of engine. It is really very exciting stuff.
So hats off and good luck with the prototype to Professor Charles Stafford, to Justin Bergfield, the doctoral candidate who is doing much of the work, and especially to Michelle Solis, the undergraduate who discovered the phenomenon on which all this is based.
Who says girls can’t do science?