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Heat flow Stop and Go

New thin-film layer goes from thermally insulating to thermally conducting with the flip of a switch
April 1, 2014
Heat flow Stop and Go

If Los Alamos’s new heat-switch material can be made flexible, then imagine how much easier it could be to pack effectively for all kinds of weather.

Hehlen and Mueller believe they can make their thin-film heat switches flexible enough to be used in temperature-controlled clothing, effectively allowing the wearer to switch between a light cotton tee and a wool sweater without having to change.

This is cool: Los Alamos scientists Markus Hehlen and Alex Mueller have devised a thin-film “heat switch”—a layer of material that can go from thermally insulating to thermally conducting with the flip of a switch. It takes advantage of fluid motion to achieve its dramatic change in thermal conductivity, using electrohydrodynamic technology to generate (or stop) the motion of a dielectric fluid, thereby improving (or inhibiting) heat conduction.

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