Colossal barocaloric effects in plastic crystals
Li, B.*; Kawakita, Yukinobu ; Kawamura, Seiko ; Sugahara, Takeshi*; Wang, H.*; Wang, J.*; Chen, Y.*; Kawaguchi, Saori*; Kawaguchi, Shogo*; Ohara, Koji*; Li, K.*; Yu, D.*; Mole, R.*; Hattori, Takanori ; Kikuchi, Tatsuya* ; Yano, Shinichiro*; Zhang, Z.*; Ren, W.*; Lin, S.*; Sakata, Osami*; Nakajima, Kenji ; Zhang, Z.*
Refrigeration is of vital importance for modern society for example, for food storage and air conditioning- and 25 to 30% of the world's electricity is consumed for refrigeration. Current refrigeration technology mostly involves the conventional vapour compression cycle, but the materials used in this technology are of growing environmental concern because of their large global warming potential. As a promising alternative, refrigeration technologies based on solid-state caloric effects have been attracting attention in recent decades. However, their application is restricted by the limited performance of current caloric materials, owing to small isothermal entropy changes and large driving magnetic fields. Here we report colossal barocaloric effects (CBCEs) (barocaloric effects are cooling effects of pressure-induced phase transitions) in a class of disordered solids called plastic crystals. The obtained entropy changes in a representative plastic crystal, neopentylglycol, are about 389 joules per kilogram per kelvin near room temperature. Pressure-dependent neutron scattering measurements reveal that CBCEs in plastic crystals can be attributed to the combination of extensive molecular orientational disorder, giant compressibility and highly anharmonic lattice dynamics of these materials. Our study establishes the microscopic mechanism of CBCEs in plastic crystals and paves the way to next-generation solid-state refrigeration technologies.