(AGI) Rome, March 27 - An international study published byNature Communications reveals the capacity, undetected untilnow, of some artificial oxides to exploit the thermoelectriceffect, i.e. the property enabling a material to convert heatinto electric power. The publication is the outcome of a jointItalian and Swiss research study by the Universities of Genoaand Geneva, in collaboration with the Italian ResearchCouncil's (CNR) Genoa-based SPIN Institute for SuPerconductors,oxides and other INnovative materials and devices, and the IOM(Institute for Materials Manufacturing) of Cagliari, inSardinia. Also known as the "Seebeck effect", thermopowergenerates electricity by exploiting the temperature differencebetween two points in the same material. Although this is aproperty that can be observed in almost all known materials, upto now its efficiency has been relatively poor, with only 10percent of the energy dispersed in the form of heat recovered.The study reveals that, by engineering the properties ofmaterials on a nanometric scale, it is possible to obtainrecord thermoelectric values at very low temperatures. Untilnow the scarcity of materials with a high energy conversioncoefficient has limited their use to specific sectors such asspace probes or special types of refrigerators for wine. Makinguse of a new class of high performance and cost-effectivematerials could significantly extend their industrial use inthe future, improving the efficiency of devices such ascomputer processors and automobile engines. More specifically,the research revealed the great potential of a family of oxideswhich, in addition to being endowed with a high energyconversion coefficient, are also non-toxic and capable ofwithstanding very high temperatures. . .