be used to stabilize temperature in existing devices and machines by adding the mineral Tungsten (W) to the VO 2, Yang said.
“For instance, for car radiators, when the car is running, it gets very hot, so we need a high-thermal-conductivity material to quickly dissipate the heat; while the car is not running on a very cold day, we need low thermal conductivity material to prevent the engine from freezing,” he explained. “W-doped VO 2 is exact this type of material with higher thermal conductivity at high temperatures and lower thermal conductivity at slightly low temperatures. Thus, such material can be used to stabilize temperature of a system.”
The discovery also could lead to new material coatings such as those that can be painted on windows to stabilize temperature in houses or offices, creating more energy-efficient buildings, Yang said.
“By tuning its thermal conductivity, it can efficiently dissipate heat out in the hot summer, but prevent heat loss in the cold winter inside the house,” he said. “Since the material can tune its properties by itself, it will be a very cost-effective way to reduce home energy consumption.”
Scientists will continue to experiment with their findings to investigate more thoroughly the charge- and heat-transport mechanisms of VO 2, as well as to improve its temperature-stabilizing capability, Yang said.
Elizabeth Montalbano is a freelance writer who has written about technology and culture for more than 15 years. She has lived and worked as a professional journalist in Phoenix, San Francisco, and New York. She currently resides in a village on the southwest coast of Portugal.