Thermoelectric materials are attracting huge attention due to their peculiar functional properties allowing for direct conversion of heat into electricity, solid state cooling, and sensing of thermal quantities. Nowadays, thermoelectric material performance and technology is under dynamic development aimed at improved device applications for energy converters, Peltier coolers and thermoelectric sensors. The proposal target is the development of compaction technology and optimisation of sintering conditions to fabricate nano-structured thermoelectric materials with improved performance.
The experimental work will focus on Skutterudites based on CoSb3 and Bi2Te3 materials. Further highly effective thermoelectric materials like Zn4Sb3 and Clathrates will be involved. To bridge the gap between preparation of nano-precipitates and testing of thermoelectric performance, advanced compaction techniques are required to conserve the beneficial effects of the nano-structure but reaching high mechanical strength. This topic currently appears as a bottleneck to implement theoretically predicted improvement of nano-structures to thermoelectric devices and up-scaled technologies, which are promising a breakthrough in thermoelectric technology with widespread product applications.
Methods applied include synthesis of nano-particles by chemical alloying, forming of compacts by cold pressing, sintering of nano-structured components by hot pressing with rapid heating rate, and subsequent characterization. Modelling work on densification and grain growth of nano-particles will provide theoretical understanding and guidelines to obtain high performance nano-structured thermoelectric materials. The fellow will deepen his knowledge and experience on compaction of nano-powders and is expected to develop superior optimised compaction technologies. He will work as an integrated part of a dynamic excellent team of international composition.
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