Thermally Functional Materials

"Electrocaloric Materials"

There is a need for environmentally friendly and energy efficient cooling technologies to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Electrocaloric effect (ECE) based cooling technology could be a radically different energy solution compared to conventional vapor compressions refrigeration. ECE is a phenomenon in which a material exhibits a reversible temperature change when an electrical field is applied.

Solution-processed ternary ferroelectric polymer nanocomposites are a totally new form of ECE materials that far surpass current EC ceramics and polymers. Coupled with its excellent processability, simplicity, and scalability, this approach represents the key step to practical applications of ECE in room-temperature refrigeration for air conditioning, compact solid state refrigerators, and on-chip cooling devices.

Developed in the labs of Qiming Zhang and Qing Wang at Penn State, these ferroelectric polymer nanocomposites show state of the art cooling energy densities in a solution-processed material. By shape-controlling the nanostructure of the composites, dramatically increased EC performance is anticipated.