MIT Engineers Generate Electricity Using Tiny Carbon Particles | Daily Current Affairs 2021

MIT Engineers Generate Electricity Using Tiny Carbon Particles

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Electricity from Carbon Nanotubes

Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have discovered a new way of generating electricity using tiny carbon particles that can create a current simply by interacting with the liquid surrounding them.

How electricity is generated?

  • A new material made from carbon nanotubes can generate electricity by scavenging energy from its environment.
  • The liquid, an organic solvent, draws electrons out of the particles and generates current.
  • This current can be used to drive chemical reactions or to power micro or nanoscale robots.
  • In a new study describing this phenomenon, this electric current can also be used to drive a reaction known as alcohol oxidation.

 Note: Alcohol oxidation is an organic chemical reaction that is important in the chemical industry.

Unique properties:

  • The new discovery grew out of Strano’s research on carbon nanotubes.
  • Carbon nanotubes are hollow tubes made of lattice of carbon atoms which have unique electrical properties.
  • The potential of carbon nanotubes to generate thermopower waves was demonstrated way back in 2010.
  • When Carbon nanotube is coated with layer of fuel, moving pulses of heat or thermopower waves travelling along tube generates electrical current.

Feature of carbon nanotubes:

  • When part of carbon nanotube is coated with Teflon-like polymer, it creates an asymmetry.
  • This makes it possible for electrons to flow from coated to uncoated part of tube, which generates an electrical current.
  • Current version of particles can generate about 0.7 volts of electricity per particle.

About Carbon nanotubes (CNTs):

  • CNTs are tubes made of carbon having diameters in nanometres.
  • They are referred to as single-wall carbon nanotubes and are one of the allotropes of carbon.
  • They are intermediate between two allotropes of carbon- fullerene cages and flat graphene.

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