[The following is an exact transcript of this podcast.]
In 1900 legendary physicist Max Planck described the way energy gets dissipated from any nonreflective object, called a blackbody. But even Max said if something else is really, really close to the object, his law might not hold.
Now physicists from M.I.T. have finally shown that if you can get another object near enough to the blackbody, but still not touching it, Planck’s blackbody radiation law really does break down. Which is good news for you.
The reseachers had been able to put flat plates a millionth of a meter apart. Which was still too far away to see any effect. But with glass beads, they achieved separations of only 10 billionths of a meter. And the radiation flow was up to a thousand times greater than Planck’s law predicts. The study appears in the August issue of the journal Nano Letters.
It’s good news because of potential applications. For example, computer data storage and solar energy devices are all less efficient because of heat buildup. If tinier distances can be achieved in these real-world devices, such waste could be made to walk the plank.