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Final Report Summary - THERMO-SPINTRONIC (High Performance Energy Conversion by the interplay between Thermoelectricity and Spin Seebeck Effect)

In view of the global energy and environmental demand, the necessity to use the energy sources more efficiently becomes relevant. Since most of energy is still being lost into the environment as waste heat, significant amount of renewable energy remains unused. In this context, thermoelectric materials, which can generate electricity from waste heat, could play an important role in a sustainable energy solution optimizing its consumption. However, the application of thermoelectric generation based classical Seebeck effect is limited to specific cases due to efficiency problems.This work was focused on obtaining a more efficient heat-to-electricity conversion by the combination of these two properties: the classical Seebeck effect and Spin-Seebeck effect being pioneer in applying this concept. The project included the development of new elements and devices that can be used to recycle waste heat and go beyond of the “state of the art” in the field of “Spin Seebeck Effect” in Thermoelectricity showing the potential use and application. The objectives proposed by this project are in line with the investigation on:

1. Suitable interfaces with large spin-to-charge conversion in Metals/Magnetic Materials.
2. Devices based on the Spin Seebeck effect for heat-to-electricity conversion.

Then, throughout ThermoSpintronic project the design and characterization of suitable materials and nano-heterostructures were addressed and successfully achieved for the investigation on the Spin Seebeck effect. Optimization of heterostructures formed by several bilayers with one ferromagnetic layer and one non-magnetic layer to maximize the Spin Seebeck signal were found to be successful in the enhancement of the extracted voltage signal. In this way, the maximum efficiency of the transformation of heat into electricity can be obtained. The discover was granted with an European patent: PCT/EP2014/073451: SPIN SEEBECK THERMOELECTRIC DEVICE, METHOD AND USE- R. Ibarra, L. Morellón, MH Aguirre, R. Ramos, A. Anadón, P.A. Algarabel, I. Lucas, E. Saitoh, K. Uchida, T Kikkawa, S. Maekawa, H. Adachi
In the initial stage, the project was focused to study the interplay between these two effects, with suitable binary oxide like the selected material magnetite (Fe3O4), an archetypal conductive oxide. Magnetite is an ancient well-known magnetic binary oxide, as soon we got knowledge about the spintronic phenomena, we openned the study os Spin Seebeck Effect to others materials with stablished colaboration around the world (for example Czech Republic, Colombia, and Argentina).
The project was ambitious and tried to cover new knowledge in cutting-edge research areas as well as to make progress towards the realization of elements and devices that eventually could be transferred to industry in the sensitive area of the global energy and environmental demand, by the necessity to use the energy sources more efficiently. ThermoSpintronic project has made a small step on that sense.

During ThermoSpintronic project a new set-up for Seebeck Effect, Anomalous Nernst Effect and Spin Seebeck effect measurements were developed, and successfully tested and calibrated at INA-Unizar. The “home made” sample holder is unique in Spain and permits to perform all the measurements with high degree of flexibility (B, T, geometry).

In the light of the scientific advances of the project, the transfer of knowledge from the Researcher (Dr. Myriam H. Aguirre) to the postdocs and PhD students of the group at INA, independent thinking and the capacity to attract funding at national and European level, the internal and external collaborations developed, the career integration of the researcher meets the expectations.

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