The strange metal is capable of conducting electricity but not giving off heat

Researchers have identified a metal that conducts electricity but doesn’t conduct heat. This is an extremely useful property, despite our current understanding of how conductors work.

This new metal, discovered in 2017, contradicts something called the Wiedemann-Franz law which states that good conductors of electricity will also be relatively good conductors of heat, which is why things like Engines and appliances become hot when you use them frequently.

But a research team in the US shows that this is not the case for the exotic metal called vanadium dioxide (VO 2 ).

“This was a completely unexpected finding,” said researcher Juniao Wu from Berkeley Lab’s Materials Science Division.

The strange metal is capable of conducting electricity but not giving off heat
The exotic metal called vanadium dioxide (VO 2 ) will be of great help to future technologies.

The unexpected discovery not only changes what we know about conductors, it could also be hugely useful, as the metal could one day be used to convert waste heat from motors and equipment back into it. into electricity, or even create better window coverings to keep buildings cool.

To uncover this bizarre property, the team looked at how electrons move through the crystal lattice of vanadium dioxide, as well as how much heat is generated.

Surprisingly, they found that the thermal conductivity that can be attributed to electrons in the material is 10 times smaller than the amount predicted by the Wiedemann-Franz law.

The reason for this seems to be the synchronized way that electrons move through the material.

“Electrons are moving in unison, like a liquid, instead of individual particles as in normal metals. For electrons, heat is a random movement. Normal metals. heat transfer is efficient because there are so many different possible microscopic configurations that individual electrons can jump in between.In contrast, coordinated, band-like motion of electrons in vanadium dioxide is detrimental to heat transfer because there are few configurations available for the electrons to randomly jump between,” added researcher Juniao Wu.

What’s more, when the researchers mix vanadium dioxide with other materials, they can adjust the amount of electricity and heat it can conduct, which could be very useful for future applications.

This material can be used to help stabilize temperatures . By adjusting its thermal conductivity, the material can automatically dissipate heat effectively in hot summer because it will have high thermal conductivity, but prevent heat loss in cold winters because of low thermal conductivity at lower temperatures,” said one of the researchers, Fan Yang.

A lot of future research needs to be done on this puzzling material before it can be commercialized further.