Washington: In what`s being hailed as a breakthrough, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) claim to have discovered a new power source -- fuel-coated nanotubes.
The MIT team, which also included a group of researchers from RMIT University in Australia, says it has discovered that fuel-coated nanotubes can be excellent conductors of heat and power generators.
The power generated relative to the energy source size is three to four times greater than what is currently possible with the best lithium-ion batteries, say the scientists.
In fact, the team members were working on measuring the acceleration of a chemical reaction along a nanotube when they discovered that the reaction generated power, the `Spectrum Magazine` reported.
The scientists said that their experimental system, based on one of the materials that have come from nanotechnology -- carbon nanotubes -- generates power, something researchers had not seen before.
"By coating a nanotube in nitrocellulose fuel and igniting one end, we set off a combustion wave along it and learned that a nanotube is an excellent conductor of heat from burning fuel. Even better, the combustion wave creates a strong electric current.
"Our discovery that a thermopower wave works best across these tubes because of their dual conductivity turns conventional thermoelectricity on its head.
"It`s the first viable nanoscale approach to power generation that exploits the thermoelectric effect by overcoming the feasibility issues associated with minimizing dimensions," Dr Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh of RMIT University said in a varsity release.
However, the scientists said that there are multiple angles to explore when it comes to taming these exotic waves and, ultimately, finding out if they are actually the wave of the future."