Passive cooling boost from silica microspheres

November 13, 2019 // By Julien Happich
passive cooling
Researchers from the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2) and the Institute of Materials Science of Madrid (ICMM-CSIC) have developed a new material for passive cooling by emitting infrared radiation.

The passive cooling technique can be used for cooling solar panels, thermoelectric modules or data centres systems.

The material unveiled in a paper published in Small under the title “A Self‐Assembled 2D Thermofunctional Material for Radiative Cooling” consists of a two-dimensional self-assembled array of 8µm-diameter silica spheres reported to behave almost as an ideal infrared emitter, providing a radiative passive cooling power of up to 350 W/m2 for a hot surface.

Experimenting with the new material, the authors found that the temperature of a silicon wafer was 14 K lower during daytime when covered with the thermal emitter, reaching an average temperature difference of 19 K when the structure was backed with a silver layer. This material could passively cool any devices where an increase in temperature has drastic effects on performance, like solar panels and computer systems.

Indeed, it is estimated that cooling systems account for 15 percent of the global energy consumption and are responsible for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions. One could say that the cure is worse than the disease, as greenhouse gases generate global warming, thus requiring even more refrigeration.

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