The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Necessity is the Mother of Invention in Nanotech

In man's endless quest for keeping his beer cold, we may have stumbled on a way to reduce global warming

1 min read

Since I at times play the role of a channel surfing, football watching male, I am curious to know more about anything that proposes a way to keep beer cold. So when I saw the quote, "We've managed to cool six cans of beer"  on Twitter, I had to investigate.

Indeed two researchers from the University of Technology, Sydney, Professor Geoff Smith and Dr Angus Gentle, have reported in this month’s online edition of Nano Letters on a nanocoating that not only manages to keep beers cold but presents an ingenious way of ensuring that heat is emitted on a wavelength that allows it to escape the earth’s atmosphere.

By using a mixture of silicon carbide and silicon dioxide nanoparticles they discovered that they could get heat to emanate at wavelengths of between 7.9 and 13 micrometers allowing the heat to escape the earth’s atmosphere.

Smith is quoted in the story above as believing that the nanocoating could be used as a sort of “reverse solar collector” in which air or water could pass below a plate coated with the nanonparticles and be cooled. The water or air could then be circulated through a building and serve as a type of air conditioning.

The coating appears to be a remarkably simple way to cut on energy costs and maybe even find a way to reduce global warming. But the true genius, as I think we can all agree, was testing it on cans of beer. Well done. 

The Conversation (0)

The Transistor at 75

The past, present, and future of the modern world’s most important invention

2 min read
A photo of a birthday cake with 75 written on it.
Lisa Sheehan
LightGreen

Seventy-five years is a long time. It’s so long that most of us don’t remember a time before the transistor, and long enough for many engineers to have devoted entire careers to its use and development. In honor of this most important of technological achievements, this issue’s package of articles explores the transistor’s historical journey and potential future.

Keep Reading ↓Show less