CORDIS - EU research results

Nano-engineered high performance Thermoelectric Energy Conversion devices

Final Report Summary - NANO-TEC (Nano-engineered high performance Thermoelectric Energy Conversion devices)

One of the major social problems for the 21st century is going to be making available a sustainable supply of energy to the world’s population since world demand increases while fossil fuel supplies decrease.
Thermoelectric energy converters are solid-state devices are able to convert waste heat into electricity, with no moving components, they are silent, totally scalable and extremely reliable. For all that reasons, they are expected to play an increasingly important role in meeting the energy challenge of the future.
Some of the most important advances in enhancing the efficiency of these materials are found in nanostructuration. It is known that by nanostructuration the thermal conductivity of the material is reduced. So increasing the total efficiency of the thermoelectric materials.
The main outcomes of this ERC Starting grant have been, so far:
- To reduce the dimensionality of the thermoelectrics materials down the onset where the quantum confinement effects should be presented for the best room temperature thermoelectric material Bi2Te3. And for P3HT polymers. We have been able to achieve 15 nm alumina templates and fill them with nanowire arrays by different methods.
- To improve the power factor of electrodeposited thermoelectrics versus the values already published by the use of surfactants, complexing agents, controlling the pH, and improving the electrochemical bath composition.
- Study the effect of a topological insulator in a thermoelectric material like Bi2Te3. And study that the topological effects are not affecting by passing current through a working device.
- We have observed a reduction in the thermal conductivity in inorganic thermoelectrics nanowires upon size reduction and an increase of the surface electrical conductivity of the nanowires. That together with the higher Seebeck we have obtained recently make an improvement in the figure of merit of thermoelectrics.
- We have studied the effect of ordering and confinements on polymers.
- We have generated a new thermoelectric device based on three-dimensional porous alumina template.
- Finally, as a collateral result of the project we have been able to generate surfaces similar to porous alumina, but in others materials with hydrophobic and hydrophilic properties opening the door to new applications.