Colloquium - Structuring Intuition with Theory: Materials for Thermoelectric Energy Conversion | Department of Physics

Colloquium - Structuring Intuition with Theory: Materials for Thermoelectric Energy Conversion

Event Information
Event Date: 
Tuesday, September 25, 2012 - 3:30pm
Event Location: 
Physics Building, Room 104

TITLE:

Structuring Intuition with Theory:

Materials for Thermoelectric Energy Conversion

ABSTRACT:

The thermoelectric effect is the direct conversion of a temperature gradient

in electrical power. It provides a fully solid-state solution for power generation

and is technologically attractive for compact energy recovery systems.

Conversion efficiency critically relies on the electrical and thermal transport

coefficients and the active materials must satisfy contradictory requirements that

depend on the details of the electronic structure, the anharmonic terms in the

vibrations, and the effects of chemical disorder and defects.

Although the task of predicting and tailoring specific properties is formidable,

first principles methodologies have grown in applicability to the point

where computational experiment can be used to disentangle the microscopic degrees of

freedom and distill specific design rules. In turn, these design rules

can be exploited in systematic searches for materials with the desired functional

properties.

Focusing on thermoelectric materials for automotive energy recovery systems I will

build on the synergy between theory and experiments to discuss the challenge

of increasing the efficiency of thermoelectric devices.

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