Researchers at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) have achieved a significant milestone by developing a thermally refractory material capable of maintaining its optical properties under extreme conditions, including temperatures of up to 1,000 degrees Celsius and intense ultraviolet illumination. This breakthrough material holds promising applications in various fields, from aerospace and space technology to thermal photovoltaic (TPV) systems.

Thermal radiation, the electromagnetic radiation emitted by matter with temperatures above absolute zero, has long been explored as a potential energy source. Harnessing this radiation can be particularly useful in repurposing heat generated by facilities such as thermal power plants and industrial sites for heating, cooling, and energy production. The focus of this research has been to identify materials that can withstand extreme environments, expanding the scope of thermal radiation applications.

In the pursuit of transitioning away from fossil fuels, global efforts are underway to explore large-scale energy generation projects utilizing sunlight. However, the solar radiation spectrum that reaches Earth but remains untapped represents an additional renewable resource. Scientists see potential in utilizing this radiant energy, complementing solar and wind renewable energy sources that are weather-dependent.

Jongbum Kim, senior researcher at KIST, led the team in developing the new thermal refractory material. Using pulsed laser deposition techniques, they created lanthanum-doped barium stannate oxide (LBSO) in nanoscale thin film form. Remarkably, this material maintains its performance even under extreme conditions, enduring temperatures of 1,000 degrees Celsius and intense ultraviolet light of 9 MW/cm2.

The researchers also successfully fabricated a thermal emitter in the infrared band using LBSO, demonstrating its stability in multilayers or as a thin film. This opens up possibilities for employing LBSO in thermophotovoltaic (TPV) power generation. Notably, the material facilitates the direct transfer of thermal radiation to PV cells without intermediaries, preventing oxidation when exposed to air.

Kim highlighted the potential impact of LBSO in addressing climate change and the energy crisis, anticipating its contribution to advancing thermoelectric power generation. Beyond power generation and recycling waste heat from industrial equipment, the UV-resistant nature of LBSO positions it for applications in managing heat generated by absorption or exposure to strong sunlight, particularly in extreme environments such as aviation and space.

The researchers express confidence that LBSO will pave the way for innovative solutions in energy and environmental sustainability, accelerating the commercialization of thermoelectric power generation.

By Impact Lab