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A New Source Of Magnetism Discovered By Accident

A new magnetic effect was discovered by accident when a UC Berkeley postdoctoral researcher and several students grew graphene on the surface of a platinum crystal.  Graphene is a one atom-thick sheet of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal pattern, that looks like chicken wire.  Examination showed when grown on platinum, the carbon atoms do not perfectly line up with the metal surface’s triangular crystal structure, which creates a strain pattern in the graphene as if it were being pulled from three different directions.

Michael Crommie, professor of physics at UC Berkeley and a faculty researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory runs the lab where the discovery was made. Charles Kane and Eugene Mele of the University of Pennsylvania first predicted the appearance of a “pseudomagnetic” field in response to strain in graphene for carbon nanotubes in 1997. Nanotubes are a rolled up form of graphene.

Crommie explains the strain produces small, raised triangular graphene bubbles 4 to 10 nanometers across in which the electrons occupy discrete energy levels rather than the broad, continuous range of energies allowed by the band structure of unstrained graphene. This new electronic behavior was detected spectroscopically by scanning tunneling microscopy. These so-called Landau levels are reminiscent of the quantized energy levels of electrons in the simple Bohr model of the atom.

Graphene Strain Induced Nanobubbles. .

Crommie said, “This gives us a new handle on how to control how electrons move in graphene, and thus to control graphene’s electronic properties, through strain. By controlling where the electrons bunch up and at what energy, you could cause them to move more easily or less easily through graphene, in effect, controlling their conductivity, optical or microwave properties. Control of electron movement is the most essential part of any electronic device.”

Inventive engineers take note – this opens a new field.

What happens is the electrons within each nanobubble segregate into quantized energy levels instead of occupying energy bands, as in unstrained graphene. The energy levels are identical to those that an electron would occupy if it were moving in circles in a very strong magnetic field, as high as 300 tesla, which is stronger than any laboratory can produce except in brief explosions, said Crommie.  For comparison, a magnetic resonance imager uses magnets running at less than 10 tesla, while the Earth’s magnetic field at ground level is only 31 microtesla.  The scale, while atom sized on one dimension – is incredible.

Meanwhile over the last year Francisco Guinea of the Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales de Madrid in Spain, Mikhael Katsnelson of Radboud University of Nijmegen, the Netherlands, and A. K. Geim of the University of Manchester, England predicted what they termed a pseudo quantum Hall effect in strained graphene. This is the very quantization that Crommie’s research group has experimentally observed. Boston University physicist Antonio Castro Neto, who was visiting Crommie’s laboratory at the time of the discovery, immediately recognized the implications of the data, and subsequent experiments confirmed that it reflected the pseudo quantum Hall effect predicted earlier.

This is pretty cheerful stuff.  Crommie observes, “Theorists often latch onto an idea and explore it theoretically even before the experiments are done, and sometimes they come up with predictions that seem a little crazy at first. What is so exciting now is that we have data that shows these ideas are not so crazy. The observation of these giant pseudomagnetic fields opens the door to room-temperature ‘straintronics,’ the idea of using mechanical deformations in graphene to engineer its behavior for different electronic device applications.”

The catch in all the excitement is the nanobubble experiments performed in Crommie’s laboratory were performed at very low temperature.  Crommie notes that the pseudomagnetic fields inside the nanobubbles are so high that the energy levels are separated by hundreds of millivolts, much higher than room temperature. Thus, thermal noise would not interfere with this effect in graphene even at room temperature.

Normally, electrons moving in a magnetic field circle around the field lines. Within the strained nanobubbles, the electrons move in circles in the plane of the graphene sheet, as if a strong magnetic field has been applied perpendicular to the sheet even when there is no actual magnetic field. Apparently, Crommie said, the pseudomagnetic field only affects moving electrons and not other properties of the electron, such as spin, that are affected by real magnetic fields.

There’s a lot of pseudo so far in the press release and the paper’s abstract at Science. But the research effort is measuring the Tesla force.  That point focuses attention is a major way.  Getting to 10 Tesla requires lots of power and a source without such a power input thirty times as strong is prey worthy of the best minds in science.  Should the effect make it beyond microelectronics in scale to say motors, the impact would be huge.

The long term potential isn’t known in precise terms.  There is a great deal of further exploration and experimentation to come.  Yet the early theory ideas have borne fruit – by accident.

The serendipitous post doc remains un named, but add to paper’s author list Castro Neto and Francisco Guinea, Sarah Burke, now a professor at the University of British Columbia; Niv Levy, now a postdoctoral researcher at the National Institute of Technology and Standards; and graduate student Kacey L. Meaker, undergraduate Melissa Panlasigui and physics professor Alex Zettl of UC Berkeley.  It’s a paper that might be worth the reading fee for the inventive engineer.

Here is the original: New Energy and Fuel

Overunity Energy Poses Wonderful Problems

Sterling Allan runs the site, a site replete with everything out on the edge and beyond where regular folks and conventional scientists get suspicious and aggravated.  This writer admires and frequents Mr. Allan’ site regularly looking for the gem – as this writer is suspicious of the law like conclusions of ‘accepted science’.  History rewards those with a skeptical eye towards the ‘accepted’ norms of herd thinking.

Last week saw Mr. Allan write about Terawatt Reearch LLC out in Irvine California.  They’re saying they are “harnessing the energy of intermolecular fluctuations.”  As Mr. Allan puts it, “In the world of exotic free energy, stories are abundant, and evidence is sparse.  In the case of Terawatt Research, they’re not interested in telling stories, and their evidence is solid. They state simply: “Extensive tests and studies have resulted in the successful development of a new principle of generating energy.””

Terawatt Performance Graphs from TUV and UL

What seizes the attention is this: the very best evidence supporting their claims comes via two of the most reputable testing organizations in the world: TÜV Rhineland of North America and Underwriter Laboratories.  Skepticism rules – Calling UL gets an affirmative response; the Field Specialist did in fact go to Terawatt and provide the report as seen on Terawatt’s web site.  TUV confirmed their project and file number as well.  Humm.

One of Terawatt’s key players is James Magee, former commander of the largest anti-terrorist organization in the Department of Defense, the Marine Corps Security Forces.  He serves in Terawatt’s “internal security.”  If that sounds impressive add that one of their strategic advisors is Judge William H. Webster.  He’s the former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.  No one should be fooin’ around out there.   This is serious, and if by third party oversights and attracted personnel significant. That is often enough.  Lets see what they are revealing.

Terawatt Test Rig. Click image for the largest view.

Terawatt is developing an unconventional system to create energy by developing an interactive magnetic oscillating generator.  The technology is capable of harnessing the energy of intermolecular fluctuations.

Both data plots clearly show performance frequency ranges in which much more energy is produced from the system than what is required to drive the system – at least three fold in the TUV observation.

Terawatt System Block Diagram. Click image for the largest view.

The block diagram leaves little for imagination.  A motor spins a set of magnets that in turn spin another set that drives a generator.  More watts out than in at certain speeds.  This tests the physics of today.

Yet the Terawatt device is powered, not one of those gismos that with a flick of the finger spins.  Rather the magnets are collecting energy from somewhere and adding that to the rotating kinetic energy.   More wattage out is quite a puzzle.

But the energy was somewhere else.  A test of significance to prove solid energy added and to overcome the notion the magnetism of the magnets isn’t being consumed would be to set up the device and let it run.  If the input is 1 horsepower and the output 1.5 horsepower those magnets would be non magnetic pretty quickly.  But if Terawatts’ device has steady excess output for say, a month or a year, way past the magnetic energy in the spinning magnets, well physics has a new challenge.

Suppose the device works long term at a 50% energy gain.  That possibility in electrical generation alone would be enormous.  On the consumption side the power available for work would increase too.  Stacking the devices in series seems practical  . . .

Is Terawatt Research working a breakthrough?  Of some kind, that’s certain.  Is it real?  Insofar as the data goes, yes.  But not long enough, time matters, the added energy needs understood and operational longevity opens the door to validating reasonable questions.

For now Terawatt is a novelty.  Proven to an extent, awaiting proof over time.  Fascinating, lets hope the device will run indefinitely with astounding questions about where the added energy is coming from – hopefully with astounding answers for the future.

Mr. Allan found a gem for us.  Thank you sir!

Source: New Energy and Fuel

A TriAlpha Energy Update

Rostoker & Monkhorst, the near famous physicists who are chasing an idea for fusion using an interesting if bewildering containment vessel have been granted a patent that has more information that may – or may not – present clues as to the progress of the group’s research and development.

A little background from what is generally known.  Rostoker & Monkhorst have accumulated a deep grasp of one path to confining fuels for the purpose of compelling fusion.  The newly granted patent for the topic is an older filing that’s owned by the University of California.  Its worthwhile to keep this in mind as private investors joined with Rostoker & Monkhorst forming the company TriAlpha Energy.  Some years have passed since the investors began their backing of the professors’ efforts, thus the information is very dated.  Whatever have been learned since is likely privately held intellectual property and the new patent may well be significantly out of technological date.

But the patent offers considerable insight for the curious as to the direction and general basis for the group’s work.

Rostoker Monkhorst Ion Travel Graphic. ,

The patent discusses the background going back as far as the Jassby et al, Farnsworth, Hirsh, Limpaecher and Bussard until the accidental discovery about 1960 of the ‘field reversed configuration’ at the Naval Research Laboratory.  This is where Rostoker & Monkhorst diverge out from the early research heading straight off into the field reversed configuration path.  It’s also where the bewildering part comes in.

Rostoker & Monkhorst are working and the patent describes a device that simultaneously achieves electrostatic confinement of both the fuel’s electrons and magnetic confinement of the fuel’s ions.  This basically – sparing a long explanation and an apology is included here – keeps the “whole” of the input energy within the device.  Rostoker & Monkhorst believe when the device is built the configuration will provide adequate density and temperature such that as ions collide they will fuse together so releasing fusion energy.

Quoting from the patent description:

“In a preferred embodiment, a plasma confinement system comprises a chamber, a magnetic field generator for applying a magnetic field in a direction substantially along a principle axis, and an annular plasma layer that comprises a circulating beam of ions.  Ions of the annular beam layer are substantially contained within the chamber magnetically in orbits and the electrons are substantially contained in an electrostatic energy well.  In one aspect of the one preferred embodiment a magnetic field generator comprises a current coil.  Preferably, the system further comprises mirror coils near the ends of the chamber that increase the magnitude of the applied magnetic filed at the ends of the chamber.  The system may also comprise a beam injector for injecting a neutralized ion beam into the magnetic field, wherein the beam enters an orbit due to the force caused by the applied magnetic field.  In another aspect of the preferred embodiments, the system forms a magnetic field having a topology of a field reversed configuration.”

Rostoker & Monkhorst are asserting the device confines the ions in an orbit in a magnetic field and the electrons are electrostatically held into an energy well.  With that in mind, the magnetic field could be tuned to produce and control the electrostatic field.  Moreover, Rostoker & Monkhorst believe the tuning can achieve electron velocity in the same direction as the ions.

The point is to get to an aspect where an annular plasma layer is contained within a field reversed configuration. Then positive charged ions and the electrons would be caused to rotate.  When positively charges ions rotate the idea is to “form a self field of sufficient magnitude to cause the field reversal.”  That’s the ‘Bewilderment Time’.  A demonstration, perhaps an animation would be needed to see this.

There is a major advantage in the Rostoker & Monkhorst proposition, quoting from the patent, “  . . . the electrons are effectively confined in a deep potential well by an electrostatic field, which tends to prevent the anomalous transport of energy by electrons.  The electrons that escape confinement must travel from the high density region near the null surface to the surface of the plasma.   In doing so, most of their energy is spent in ascending the energy well.  When electrons reach the plasma surface and leave with fusion product ions, they have little energy left to transport.”

If that turns out to work in practice the bedeviling electron escapes with large energies would be contained in the system.

The patent pdf offers a challenging, and state of the art at the time the patent was filed, explanation of the device function. Whether the concept of field reversed configuration will get to an engineered device isn’t known.  Its reported some $40 million is committed from private investors that could well be enough for a functioning device.

This writer remains a bit bewildered – just where in the device an atom is going to fuse with another isn’t clear.  Somewhere a fuel has to fuse. Some energy has to be imparted and observed with heat or velocity or pressure to overcome the atomic forces that keeps atoms apart so they don’t fuse spontaneously.  The fundamental event isn’t being explained.   Saying the “collisions between ions of different velocities lead to fusion reactions” isn’t getting to projectable event counts and leads to the belief that the inventors expect fusion through out the rotational field (notation 106 in the graphic).  Oh My. . .

Which leads to the writer’s thought that Rostoker & Monkhorst have an elegant proposal that brings excellent solutions to difficult problems. Yet getting a concentration of fusion energy release to match and exceed the energy required to get and keep a system running is still very much a major engineering problem.  It may well be possible to devise a workable or efficient system – yet the matter of just how and where the fusion happens remains an elusive explanation.

The original post is created by: New Energy and Fuel