Perfect insulator could eliminate heating bills

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Washington, Feb 28 (ANI): Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Sandia National Laboratories, US, have created a perfect insulator, a material that reflects heat while absorbing none of it, which could eliminate heating bills.

"All the heat that hits it gets shot back in the other direction," said Edwin Thomas, a scientist at MIT.

"If you could put the right material on the wall (of a home), the heat from your body would be enough to heat it," he added.

Now, the MIT scientists have created structures 10 nanometers across that manipulate even tinier hypersonic waves gigahertz in size.

Most people know hypersonic waves by a different name however: heat.

When a sound wave becomes incredibly tiny, it actually functions as a heat wave.

"Once you get into the regimen where you can affect a material's thermal properties this leads to other exciting possibilities," said Oskar Painter, a scientist at Caltech.

"Sound could control heat. Light could control electricity. A whole realm of new devices could arise from this technology," said Painter, but it will take years before they end up in consumer's hands.

MIT isn't the only group working on perfect insulators. Another group of scientists from Sandia National Laboratories and the University of New Mexico are also hard at work creating new heat-controlling materials.

"We will soon start to make devices for manipulating photons, phonons and electrons, all at the same time," said Roy Olsson, a scientist at Sandia National Laboratories.

Right now, the perfect insulators created by the MIT, Sandia, the University of New Mexico and other scientists only work at below freezing temperatures.

The colder the temperature, the longer the wavelength, and the easier it is to manipulate the wave.

To reflect heat at room temperature, the scientists will have to pattern structures between one and 10 nanometers.

Olsson and his team have theoretical evidence that this is possible, and will build and test a room-temperature heat reflector within the next several months.

The insulator could be used to produce cooler, more energy efficient cell phones and allow cell towers to squeeze in more phone calls or more data. (ANI)

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