forbes, phononic and chains of love

I don’t know if it is too much to tie together or if I am dating myself, but it is worth a try, so here we go.  Phononic has been on ned’s radar screen for a bit now as there is a continued interest in thermoelectrics.

A recent Forbes article brought them back to the forefront.  I will not comment further on the article, other than drag up one quote therefrom;

“It’s hard to pry much information about Phononic’s technology from Atti.”

From here I wandered to that 80’s Erasure song “Chains of Love”.  There is that rather catchy refrain that first appears at 1:08 of the video; “don’t give up”. Unfortunately, this might now be stuck in your head for the rest of the day, but with it as inspiration it is time to dig a bit.

After a bit of assignee searching at the USPTO US8,563,844 to Grey et al. came to light.  Way back in my first post on thermoelectrics I mentioned a number of different techniques or approaches for achieving this particular material property.  One of these is so-called superlattice structures.  In a very brief nutshell a superlattice employs multiple, thin layers of material, with the overall properties of the structure being derived from those of the individual layers and the overall or combined structure.  This approach is taken in embodiments of the ‘844 patent.  As shown in Figure 1, reproduced below, a thermoelectric 10 has of a heterostructure 12 of “well” layers 14 and 18, and “barrier” layer 16.  It is also indicated that the materials of layers 14 and 18, and 16 are engineered to produce a bandgap differential.



I have not gone into this story too deeply here, including not really digging into the ‘844 patent.  It deserves more thought and discussion, but there is considerable background needed for before such a discussion.  There is also plenty more to the story than one issued patent.  I did not even mention the ten other published applications and the IP landscape that is being carved out.  As was said earlier “Don’t give up”.