Porous Thermoelectric Materials
A formulation to increase the efficiency of thermoelectric materials by reducing density.
Thermoelectric effects enable direct conversion of thermal to electrical energy, which provides an alternative power generation and temperature conditioning. Although thermoelectric systems are environmentally friendly, the efficiency of thermoelectric devices cannot compete with current gold-standard conversion methods, such as the Carnot Cycle. There is an unmet need for an improved thermoelectric figure of merit and optimization of thermoelectric materials via porosity.
Researchers at The Ohio State University, led by Dr. Joseph Heremans, have developed a formulation to increase efficiency of materials used in thermoelectric energy converters. By creating porous materials with an optimum density range on the order of 80% of the theoretical density of fully massive metal, the thermoelectric figure of merit can be improved by scattering more phonons than electrons.