Thermoelectric devices exploit thermal energy carried by electrical charges for the conversion between heat and electricity for cooling, heating, and power generation applications. The efficiency of thermoelectric energy conversion systems depends on the materials thermoelectric figure of merit, heat source temperatures, and heat transfer in and out of the devices. This talk will start with an introduction to thermoelectric effects, and move on to discuss ways to understand and engineer electron and phonon transport in thermoelectric materials to improve the figure of merit. On phonon transport, thermal conductivity spectroscopy and coherent heat conduction will be discussed. Modulation doping in 3D random structures and invisibility of nanoparticles to electron transport will be explored for improving the electron performance. Device and system challenges will be discussed, with a focus on solar thermoelectric energy conversion, including the demonstration of flat-panel solar thermoelectric generators at 4.6% efficiency with no optical concentration.
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ME 1061, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN