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nanoHUB-U: Thermoelectricity: From Atoms to Systems

This five-week short course aims to introduce students to the thermoelectric theory and applications using a unique, “bottom up” approach to carrier transport that has emerged from research on molecular and nanoscale electronics.

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THERMOELECTRICITY: FROM ATOMS TO SYSTEMS

This five-week short course aims to introduce students to the thermoelectric theory and applications using a unique, “bottom up” approach to carrier transport that has emerged from research on molecular and nanoscale electronics.



PROFESSORS SHAKOURI, LUNDSTROM & DATTA


ALI SHAKOURI (Center) is the Mary Jo and Robert L. Kirk Director of the Birck Nanotechnology Center and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University. His group studies the mutual interaction of heat, light, and electricity in nano and microscale materials and devices and is working to achieve high efficiency and high power density direct thermal to electric energy conversion.

SUPRIYO DATTA (Right) is the Thomas Duncan Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University. The Datta group is well-known for its contribution to quantum transport modeling in nanoscale electronic devices.

MARK LUNDSTROM (Left) is the Don and Carol Scifres Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University. The Lundstrom group explores the physics and technology of nantransistors, solar cells, and thermoelectric devices.



Scientific Overview Video


Course Objectives

This five-week short course aims to introduce students to the thermoelectric theory and applications using a unique, “bottom up” approach to carrier transport that has emerged from research on molecular and nanoscale electronics. Intuition about thermoelectric relations and efficiency limits are obtained by studying a single atom. The first two weeks of the course introduce this new perspective and connects it to the traditional treatment of thermoelectric science. Landauer formalism provides a unified framework to study both electron and phonon transport.

The following three weeks introduce latest nanoscale and macroscale characterization techniques, the design of thermoelectric systems, and recent advances in nanoengineered thermoelectric materials and physics. Online simulations using nanoHUB will illustrate transport in realistic TE materials and energy balance in thermoelectric devices. System requirements for electronics cooling and for large scale direct heat to electricity conversion in waste heat recovery and topping cycle applications, and trade-offs beyond material’s thermoelectric figure-of-merit, in terms of the heat sink requirements, thermal stress, material usage and overall cost will be briefly introduced.

The course is taught at the level of a Purdue University course for undergraduate seniors or first year graduate students. The course also provides experts on thermoelectric science and technology with a new perspective. The instructor-led online course can be taken from anywhere in the world from October 3 through November 6, 2013 for a nominal fee of $30.00 and after that, for free in a self-paced mode through nanoHUB-U (http://nanoHUB.org/u). Certification is available to students in the instructor-led course.

Who Should Take the Course

Thermoelectric devices are being used in a growing number of applications such as energy harvesting and precision cooling. The course should be useful for advanced undergraduates, beginning graduate students as well are researchers and practicing engineers and scientists seeking an understanding of basic concepts and how these concepts are translated into practical devices.

Prerequisites

This course follows the nanoHUB-U philosophy of aiming to be as broadly accessible as possible to those with a background in the physical sciences or engineering. No familiarity with thermoelectric theory or technology is assumed, but an introductory level understanding of solid-state physics is necessary (e.g. energy bands, density-of-states, Fermi functions, doping etc.). A basic familiarity with topics usually covered in a two-semester college course in introductory physics is assumed. Selected topics from upper-division undergraduate courses in electricity and magnetism, thermodynamics, and quantum mechanics will be reviewed as required. A working knowledge of both integral and differential calculus is assumed. Pointers to web-based lectures that cover background topics will be provided.

Course Outline

Preview the lectures below, or join the course by clicking the yellow button on the right and entering your nanoHUB login information!

Week 1: Bottom Up Approach by Supriyo Datta

Week 2: Thermoelectric Transport Parameters by Mark Lundstrom

Week 3: Nanoscale and Macroscale Characterization by Ali Shakouri

Week 4: Thermoelectric Systems by Ali Shakouri

Week 5: Recent Advances in Thermoelectric Materials and Physics by Ali Shakouri

Course Resources

  • A nanoHUB.org account is required to perform the simulation exercises. Sign up for free now!
  • Prerecorded video lectures distilling the essential concepts of thermoelectricity into a concise, five-week module.
  • Homework exercises with solutions and homework tutorials.
  • Online quizzes to quickly assess understanding of material after each video lecture.
  • An online forum, hosted by nanoHUB and monitored by the professors. Students enrolled in the course will be able to interact with one another.
  • Exams for each weekly module. Once a student starts a test, the student will have two hours to complete it. The tests are scored instantly.

Registration

This self-paced course is available at no cost to anyone with a nanoHUB.org account.

nanoHUB-U is powered by nanoHUB.org, the home for computational nanoscience and nanotechnology research, education, and collaboration.

nanoHUB.org, a resource for nanoscience and nanotechnology, is supported by the National Science Foundation and other funding agencies. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.