Sunday, December 17, 2006

US Patent 7148579 - Thermoelectric Generator Using Nanostructures

This patent from Ambient deals with the conversion of energy from the motion of individual molecules into a usable energy output. Typical thermoelectric generators use the energy generated by a cumulative output of a large number of molecules but most devices are too course to make use of individual molecules. Claim 1 reads:

1. An energy conversion and regulation system comprising: a base member; a system output; a plurality of parallel arrays, wherein at least two of said plurality of parallel arrays are electrically connected in series, each one of said plurality of parallel arrays comprising: a plurality of generator-switch assemblies electrically connected in parallel and electrically connected to said system output, wherein each of generator-switch assemblies comprises: a generator coupled to said base member that converts thermal energy into a time-varying electrical signal; and a nanometer-scale switch coupled to said base member, wherein said switch is electrically connected in series with said generator such that said switch automatically closes in reaction to said time-varying electrical signal having at least a minimum non-zero magnitude.