School of Science

News

9 Nov 2016

Dr Kelly Morrison granted Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Fellowship

Loughborough’s research into the world of the unimaginably small has received a huge boost after physicist Dr Kelly Morrison was granted a fellowship to support her work converting wasted heat into useable energy.

Dr Morrison, of Loughborough University’s Department of Physics, was granted an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Fellowship for her study: Reliable, Scalable and Affordable Thermoelectrics: Spin Seebeck Based Devices for Energy Conversion.

The EPSRC scheme begins in January 2017 and will provide support and guidance during the study, and allow Dr Morrison to fund research associates and PhD student.

The Fellowship is designed to help recipients establish themselves as “leaders of the future”.

Dr Morrison said: “This Fellowship will give me the time and resources to focus on a relatively new physics phenomenon, which is rapidly developing into a potential game changer for next generation computers and thermoelectrics.”

Dr Morrison’s successful proposal outlined the project which looks at alternative ways of converting waste heat such as that generated by electronics (for example computers, phones, notebooks), or rejected by household refrigerators, into an electric current – a process known as thermoelectrics.

The new system uses a newly discovered phenomenon known as the spin Seebeck effect, which harnesses a fundamental aspect of magnetism: the electron spin.

When a magnetic material is exposed to a temperature difference electrons will drift in different directions depending on their spin – generating what is known as a spin current.

This can be used to produce an electric current by placing a thin layer of platinum on top. The advantage of this over conventional thermoelectrics is that it could lead to higher efficiencies.